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GT World Challenge Europe

Nürburgring Weekend Notebook

Sportscar365’s notebook from the Nürburgring’s GT World Challenge Europe round…

Photo: Dirk Bogaerts/SRO

***Black Falcon’s drive-through penalty in Race 1 was given for an unsafe release that caused a collision with Belgian Audi Club Team WRT’s No. 10 Audi. Maro Engel and Luca Stolz finished eighth, losing both the GT World Challenge Europe (Sprint) and combined championship leads.

***Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli now have a four-point lead over Engel and Stolz in the combined standings, while running six points ahead in the GT World Challenge Europe championship. Three sprint rounds remain, including today’s Race 2 and two rounds next weekend at the Hungaroring. 

***Kelvin van der Linde and Clemens Schmid will start this afternoon’s race from the pit lane because Attempto Racing made an engine change on the No. 66 Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo overnight. 

***Dries Vanthoor and Ezequiel Perez Companc will start from pole in the No. 1 WRT Audi. Stolz/Engel are fourth on the grid, while Caldarelli/Mapelli are seventh. The race will get underway at 2:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. EDT).

***Stephen Earle says he decided to make a one-off Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe entry this weekend to keep himself in the car. Earle, a Texas-based spinal surgeon, is a regular in the Blancpain GT Sports Club, having dominated the Iron Cup in recent years.

“When I’ve been home too long and haven’t been in the car, my wife says I start to get on her nerves,” he said. “She calls up Ronnie Kessel and says: ‘Look, you need to give Stephen a test or something, because whatever you’re charging him, the divorce will be more expensive!’”

***Earle and Rory Penttinen are in one of two Am Cup entries this weekend, joining full-season pairing Florian Scholze and Wolfgang Triller, who have thus far been the class’ only competitors in the Sprint races.

***Sainteloc Racing’s No. 24 Audi has a new driver in Dorian Boccolacci, who replaces Nyls Stievenart as teammate to Stephane Ortelli. The addition of Gold-rated Boccolacci moves the car to the Pro class.

***WRT has new liveries on its four Audis, moving away from its usual black/grey-dominated color schemes. Each car now has a new primary color of white, yellow, red or green.

***The team has also adorned its cars with #ForzaEnzo stickers, supporting its former driver Enzo Ide who is currently hospitalized after sustaining a head injury. Ide was driving for WRT when he won the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup title in 2016.

“Sometimes the race is no longer a top priority,” team principal Vincent Vosse told Endurance-Info. “All our thoughts are going to Enzo and his family. We are waiting and we hope for positive news. Enzo is part of the WRT family where he spent a good part of his racing career and contributed to our growth and success.”

***Tech 1 Racing’s Lexus RC F GT3 is again being driven by Jack Hawksworth and Aurelien Panis, although joint team managers Simon and Sarah Abadie aren’t at the Nürburgring this weekend. They are instead at Silverstone, looking after their pair of LMP2 cars, entered as Panis Barthez Competition, in the European Le Mans Series.

***Jota Sport (which runs the R-Motorsport Aston Martins), Kessel Racing and AF Corse are also split between the Nürburgring and Silverstone. Rinaldi Racing, meanwhile, has a Ferrari 488 GT3 in the Hankook 24 Hours of Barcelona, entered under the Wochenspiegel Team Monschau banner.

***Joel do Vale is serving as race director this weekend, with Alain Adam working on the Blancpain GT World Challenge America weekend at Watkins Glen.

***This is the only weekend in which the European and American GT World Challenge series have clashed this year, although the last European race at Zandvoort in July fell on the same weekend as a GT4 SRO America event at Portland International Raceway.

***AKKA ASP has ruled out entering cars in November’s Kyalami 9 Hours but is set to mount a two-car program in the Gulf 12 Hours three weeks later. It’s expected to have a similar program in 2020 to this year, although a larger IGTC presence hasn’t been entirely ruled out.

***Sainteloc Racing has also confirmed it won’t enter Kyalami but the French Audi outfit is set to field cars in Creventic’s 24-hour races at COTA and Dubai. 

***PROsport Performance is continuing testing with its Aston Martin Vantage GT3 after skipping the Nürburgring’s ADAC GT Masters round due to Balance of Performance concerns. It tested at Hockenheim and is set to run at the Nürburgring on Friday.

***WRT will race at the Nürburgring on three consecutive weekends. Next weekend, it will run an Audi for Matthieu Vaxiviere, Francois Perrodo and Emmanuel Collard, while the following weekend is DTM’s visit to the track.

***The provisional timetable for the inaugural FIA Motorsport Games has been released, including three days of on-track action at Vallelunga on Nov. 1-3. Pre-event formalities will be followed by a parade through Rome and an opening ceremony on Thursday, Oct. 30, meanwhile.

***Click here to view the event schedule, which includes sessions for the GT Cup, Touring Car Cup, Drifting Cup, F4 Cup, Karting Slalom Cup and Digital Cup.

Laurent Mercier contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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