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GT World Challenge Europe

Rossi Holds Off Weerts to Take Home Win

Valentino Rossi beats Charles Weerts to lead Team WRT 1-2 in Misano Race 1…

Photo: JEP/SRO

Valentino Rossi claimed his second Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup victory on home soil by holding off Team WRT stablemate Charles Weerts in Race 1 at Misano.

The Italian, sharing the No. 46 BMW M4 GT3 with Maxime Martin, crossed the line 0.275 seconds ahead of Weerts to come out on top at the same circuit where he claimed his breakthrough first win in SRO Motorsports Group competition last year.

The No. 46 car started the race from pole position, with Martin opening a gap of nearly three seconds before the pit window opened.

Weerts’ co-driver Dries Vanthoor, meanwhile, charged up from sixth to third place, most notably passing the No. 14 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 of Ben Green with a contact-heavy move 14 minutes into the contest.

While Rossi maintained the lead after taking over from Martin, Weerts moved up into second as the Bronze-Cup entered No. 54 Dinamic GT Porsche 911 GT3 R fell back when Philipp Sager took over from Marvin Dienst.

Weerts subsequently closed down a gap of some two seconds to increase the pressure on Rossi, with the two cars practically bumper-to-bumper as they navigated traffic in the final laps.

Rossi, however, managed to keep Weerts at bay to claim his second victory in Fanatec GT Europe while the No. 32 car came home to complete a BMW 1-2.

An early pitstop allowed the No. 69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari to leapfrog from ninth to third, with Giacomo Altoe and Thierry Vermeulen completing the overall podium.

The sister No. 14 Ferrari finished in fourth, ahead of the No. 48 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Maro Engel and Lucas Auer.

The mamba-liveried machine completed a strong comeback drive from 21st on the grid to round out the overall top five, with Auer fighting past Patric Niederhauser, Lorenzo Ferrari and Sam de Haan in the closing stages.

De Haan finished sixth to claim the Silver Cup class win aboard the No. 30 Team WRT BMW he shared with Calan Williams, while Niederhauser and Sven Mueller took seventh in the No. 96 Rutronik Racing Porsche.

Garage 59’s No. 159 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo finished eighth, with Boutsen VDS and Comtoyou Racing completing the top ten.

The No. 25 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II of Paul Evrard and Gilles Magnus took the Gold Cup victory in 13th overall while Dinamic GT came out in Bronze Cup.

The No. 54 Porsche, which ran as high as second overall with Dienst at the wheel in the opening stint, came under late-race pressure from the No. 991 Century Motorsport BMW of Darren Leung.

Leung, however, went off the road late in the race and dropped to fourth in class, allowing Sager to take the class win despite the car losing its right-front headlight panel.

The second Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup race of the weekend takes place at 9 p.m. CEST (3 p.m. EDT).

RESULTS: Race 1

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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