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GT World Challenge Europe

Misano Weekend Notebook

Daniel Lloyd’s notebook from the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup paddock at Misano…

Photo: Patrick Hecq/SRO

***The penultimate round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup season takes place at Misano this weekend. The circuit on Italy’s Adriatic coast has staged the series seven times before, but this is only the second time it has been second-to-last in the schedule after its 2015 debut.

***A field of 27 cars is present for the pair of 60-minute races, with the entry bolstered by single Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos from Imperiale Racing and LP Racing, which transferred from Pro-Am to Silver Cup on Friday. Click here for the final entry list.

***The No. 88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Jules Gounon and Jim Pla has been moved to the back of the Race 1 grid after qualifying fourth. Gounon was originally nominated to do the session, but Pla took part instead. According to a stewards’ report, the team intended to ask for a change of driver based on Pla’s commitments in both GTWC and the GT4 this weekend, but an “administrative error” from ASP meant the request was not sent.

***Imperiale Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo will also start from the back, one place ahead of the No. 88 Mercedes-AMG, after losing its times due to repeatedly breaching track limits in qualifying, where it went the fifth-fastest overall.

***Sprint Cup debutant Imperiale considered entering the previous round at Zandvoort but it was unable to find a co-driver for Alberto Di Folco before the entry deadline passed, according to sporting director Luca Del Grosso. The Italian team will not attend the Valencia season finale because that clashes with the Italian GT round at Vallelunga.

***Di Folco is competing in GTWC Europe Sprint Cup for the first time since 2015 when he raced at Misano for Grasser Racing Team.

**Misano is the home circuit of Valentino Rossi, whose presence has attracted plenty of fans to the WRT garage and hospitality area.

***Rossi described how the 2.62-mile lap feels in a GT3 car: “Turn 10 is very difficult and you make a different line compared to the bike, where you go more wide and you come back to use the acceleration. With the car, you have to stay more inside. But you have also some places that are similar, for example Turn 13.”

***While Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts lead Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy by 1.5 points in the drivers’ standings, the latter pairing’s Akkodis ASP squad sits atop the Sprint Cup teams’ championship with 86 points, 5.5 more than Team WRT.

***WRT has historically been very strong at Misano, winning eight of the 15 races held at the venue. Vanthoor and Weerts swept last year’s event, claimed two wins in 2020’s triple-header and won a race in 2019, the latter marking their first GT3 triumph together.

***Weerts’ time of 1:31.268 that led Qualifying 1 on Saturday morning was the fastest-ever pole lap at Misano for Sprint Cup. The Belgian previously took pole in 2019 with a 1:34.227 and last year with a 1:32.333, all in dry conditions.

***Sainteloc Junior Team sporting director Frederic Thalamy explained why the Audi package has been historically strong at Misano: “We use a lot of aero, and the Audi in this condition is quite good,” he told Sportscar365. “When you have a car with a lot of aero on a flat track, it is easier to manage because the balance of the car does not move around.”

***Vanthoor can match the Sprint Cup wins haul of his brother Laurens if he and Weerts sweep the Misano weekend again. Laurens Vanthoor claimed 14 victories during his time with WRT and is the championship’s most successful driver. This factors in the 2013 FIA GT Series, which ran under a different name but to the same rules as early Sprint Cup seasons.

***Christian Klien is absent from the Pro-Am JP Motorsport lineup due to his presence at the British Grand Prix, where he is working in a punditry role with Austrian broadcaster Servus TV. Klien’s withdrawal from Misano effectively precludes him from the Pro-Am title fight, which he currently leads alongside Patryk Krupinski, but the Austrian is set to return for Valencia.

***JP Motorsport and Zakspeed are set to collaborate on future racing programs. Both teams used their official social media channels to share the same images of a McLaren 570S GT4 in a half-and-half livery, with the caption reading that the organizations “will be represented at the racetrack as a unit”. A Zakspeed truck is part of JP Motorsport’s paddock setup, although team owner Patryk Krupinski described the collaboration as “top secret” when approached by Sportscar365.

***Jordan Pepper is at Misano on coaching duties for FFF Racing Team, which has four cars competing in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe round. FFF team principal Andrea Caldarelli is absent due to his attendance at the Le Mans Classic.

***Motorcycle racing star Dani Pedrosa is part of the FFF roster and is participating in his second Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe event with the team, after making his car racing debut at Imola.

***Ducati MotoGP rider Pecco Bagnaia was spotted in the paddock on Saturday, visiting the WRT garage complex.

***SRO Motorsports Group has embarked on a reforestation project in Belgium’s Ardennes region as part of its sustainability strategy. A total of 2,050 trees will be planted in a 1.5-hectare area previously affected by ash dieback that is located around 100 km from Spa-Francorchamps.

***TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa general manager Laurent Gaudin commented: “SRO Motorsports Group is fully committed to sustainability and this project adds a new dimension to our efforts. By planting new trees, we can contribute to the regeneration of this area and help to protect it for future generations.”

***Porsche is “really open” to running its brand-new GT3 car in pre-homologation form during a GTWC Europe meeting later this year, according to the manufacturer’s GT3 project manager Sebastian Golz. The first official photos of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R were revealed on Wednesday.

***BMW and Audi fielded their 2022 models as invitation entries into last season’s Endurance Cup finale at Barcelona. “It makes sense because it gives the possibility for organizations like SRO to get the first data out of it,” said Golz, who is not at Misano.

***The minimum pit stop time for the Pro-Am category at Misano is 77 seconds, with a single one-second tolerance allowed.

***An example of next year’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 is on display outside the manufacturer’s paddock hospitality unit. There is also a Diablo GT-R bearing the names of Diablo development driver Luigi Moccia and Lamborghini’s Head of Motorsport Giorgio Sanna, who drove the car in a 2001 Lamborghini Supertrophy round.

***GSM Novamarine is expected to have another different driver pairing for the final round at Valencia, although it is understood that Danny Kroes will continue with the Italian team after appearing at Zandvoort and Misano.

***Raffaele Marciello’s helmet design pays tribute to the late Jules Bianchi. The seventh anniversary of Bianchi’s death from injuries sustained in an accident at the 2014 Japanese Grand Prix will occur later this month, on July 17.

***The No. 87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG only required front bumper and splitter replacements after Thomas Drouet’s accident that brought out the red flags during Free Practice, according to team principal Jerome Policand.

***Pirelli says that it has been investigating why several Lamborghinis and Audis experienced punctures at the Paul Ricard 1000km Endurance Cup round. Its racing technical manager Matteo Braga stated that some were caused by cars running on debris. “In some other cases, we believe that a combination of factors were contributing to tire deflations: a high severity circuit, extreme setup and low running pressure, to mention some of them.”

***Some drivers have expressed concern about the tire situation for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa after some punctures occurred at the official test. However, Sainteloc’s Thalamy feels that part of the onus is on teams and manufacturers to find the right setup: “I remember in the past with some other brands, we had the same issue,” he said. “These are customer tires but not the same car concepts. So we have to think about how Pirelli build these tires. This is our job, to understand what they try to do.”

***Thalamy also suggested that, for Paul Ricard, utilizing the chicane on the Mistral Straight could be an option to prevent punctures by easing the rear tire load into Signes corner. “If you put the chicane in, I think we would have less issues,” he said.

***Akkodis ASP’s Jules Gounon and Petru Umbrarescu were spared penalization for missing the pre-event drivers’ briefing after their rental car experienced a flat tire.

***Sunday’s track action begins with a 20-minute qualifying session starting at 9 a.m. (3 a.m. ET) on Sunday, with the second race of the weekend scheduled for 2:45 p.m. (8:45 a.m. ET).

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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