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GT World Challenge Europe

Nürburgring Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first notebook from the GTWC Europe paddock at the Nürburgring…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Like the Imola season opener and the first round of GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup at Misano, the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring is being held under Phase 1 of SRO Motorsports Group’s three-stage COVID-19 protocol.

***Despite this rating, limited public access has been approved by the Nürburgring circuit organization. Spectators can access the grandstands in the arena section, with tickets sold in blocks of four, although fan paddock access is prohibited. A similar measure was piloted during an ADAC GT Masters round three weeks ago, and last weekend during an NLS race.

***Under Phase 1, each car is limited to 15 personnel including three drivers, while no more than 2,495 people can be in the paddock areas and circuit buildings at any time.

***All teams are using fuel sensors this weekend, facilitating the introduction of minimum refueling times during pit stops. Full services carry a minimum refuel time of 37 seconds, while short stops have a 10-second maximum. Tire changes at all stops are optional and without time limits. A minimum pit time was enforced at Imola.

***Friday’s GT3 track action consisted of a Bronze driver test in the afternoon. Martin Konrad led the 60-minute session with a time of 1:57.525 in the RAM Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, while Rino Mastronardi was second-quickest for Rinaldi Racing.

***The rest of the Endurance Cup field had a rest day after four 50-minute paid testing sessions on Thursday, in mostly wet conditions. Mercedes driver Raffaele Marciello set the pace for AKKA-ASP with a 1:54.265 effort that came during the second spell of running.

***Ricky Collard will make his debut in a Lamborghini, as part of Orange 1 FFF Racing Team’s Silver Cup crew. Collard and Lamborghini Super Trofeo ace Jonathan Cecotto are partnering Baptiste Moulin, whose regular co-drivers Andrea Amici and Florian Latorre are absent on Super Trofeo North America and Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup duty respectively.

***Collard’s father Rob is also driving a Lamborghini this weekend, for Barwell Motorsport in Pro-Am.

***Thomas Drouet is making his GT3 debut in AKKA-ASP’s Pro-Am class No. 87 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. The 21-year-old currently drives for the French squad in FFSA GT and will partner Fabien Barthez and Jim Pla at the Nürburgring.

***Haupt Racing Team principal Sean Paul Breslin has hinted at some of the Mercedes-AMG squad’s plans for early next year, depending on schedules. “We will aim for a similar program to what we had with Black Falcon,” Breslin told Sportscar365. “Dubai 24 in the new year, and Bathurst [for IGTC]. I don’t think Bathurst [as an event] will happen straight away but we would love to be back there to go for the win.”

***HRT is currently based at a former Black Falcon facility in Meuspath, the industrial village beside the Nürburgring. Breslin explained that the team, which is led by Hubert Haupt whose other business interests include property development, is likely to stay there through next year before moving. “We’ve already found a bit of land and we’re already designing a new building for the future,” said Breslin.

***Endurance Cup has not raced at the Nürburgring since 2016, when Lamborghini squad Grasser Racing Team won the round as a three-hour enduro. Two of GRT’s winning drivers on that occasion, Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen, are now in the Endurance Cup points-leading WRT Aui R8 LMS GT3 Evo alongside Kelvin van der Linde.

***Boutsen Ginion Racing has teased an art car livery that will adorn its BMW M6 GT3 at the Total 24 Hours of Spa. The Belgian squad plans to unveil the special design, which has been created by American artist Peter Halley, during the Spa test days later this month.

***Defending 24 Hours of Spa winner GPX Racing is currently on a roll in the Fun Cup series, having recently won a 12-hour race at Magny-Cours. Team principal Pierre-Brice Mena and Porsche Young Professional Julien Andlauer were among the drivers.

***GPX is set to field two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs at Spa, while its third car – which was initially poised for an Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli campaign – is now likely to contest only the Kyalami 9 Hour IGTC round and Creventic’s 12-hour Coppa Florio race at Enna. “It [the Coppa Florio] makes so much sense for us with our Targa Florio livery,” Brice Mena told Sportscar365.

***KCMG’s Porsche that is competing this weekend is set to run at the 24H Spa test days on Sept. 29-30, while the team’s Nürburgring 24 cars will contest the Spa race itself. “They’ll be completely new by the time they arrive at Spa, but they will have just finished a heavy weekend at the Nurburgring, so we’ll use one car over two days for the test,” said KCMG sporting manager Matt Howson.

***Saturday’s track action begins with a 90-minute Free Practice session starting at 9 a.m. local time (3 a.m. EST). Qualifying takes place in the evening.

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

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