The decisive round of the 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season has officially started after a busy day at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.
A pair of official practice sessions enabled the entire peloton to run hour-long races at 9:00 a.m. and 1:10 p.m., while the traditional pre-event bronze test concluded the proceedings at 5:00 p.m. Friday’s activity kicked off the campaign’s closing weekend, which culminates Sunday afternoon with the decisive three-hour race.
Two of the four teams chasing the overall Endurance Cup crown were in particularly strong form during official practice. Winner the last time on the Nürburgring, Orange1 FFF Racing dominated the first session thanks to a time of 1.45.221 from Marco Mapelli in the Lamborghini n ° 63. This put the Chinese team 0.822 seconds ahead of Raffaele Marciello in the No.88 Mercedes-AMG AKKA ASP, but the positions were reversed in the second run when Jules Gounon clocked a time of 1.46.709. It was only 0.058 seconds faster than the # 63 Lamborghini driven by Mirko Bortolotti, while the # 71 Ferrari Iron Lynx was 0.060 seconds in third.
There was more good news for Mercedes-AMG as AKKA ASP won the Silver Cup in both sessions with its No.87 machine, while SPS Automotive Performance swept the Pro-Am class with the No.20. The latter almost passed three out of three in the Bronze Test, but Martin Konrad was propelled to first place by Miguel Ramos (# 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini). The Portuguese posted a 1m47.804s, 0.022s ahead of the # 20 Mercedes-AMG.
The # 93 Sky Tempesta Racing Ferrari was third in the hands of Rino Mastronardi. The 13 cars eligible for the session were all on track during the hour, which was interrupted by a brief red flag caused by the No.97 Aston Martin.
There have been a handful of changes to the attendee list since it was first posted last week. Notably, Jack Aitken is back behind the wheel of the # 114 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini for the first time since his accident at the 24 Hours of Spa TotalEnergies. Berkay Besler replaces Paul Petit in the # 7 Mercedes-AMG Toksport WRT, while Dennis Lind has joined the # 26 Saintéloc Racing Audi crew. The full list of registrants can be viewed here.
Saintéloc’s # 26 entry will see the Audi R8 LMS Evo II racing ahead of the car’s full-season debut in 2022, while BMW Motorsport will give the new M4 GT3 its Endurance Cup debut this weekend. Both cars will compete as invitational entries and will therefore be considered invisible in the results.
Activity on the track takes a notch higher tomorrow, with free practice (9am) and pre-qualifying (1:40 pm) both lasting 90 minutes. There is also a virtual competition as the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series holds its final race of 2021 at 6:20 pm. Sunday will start at 9:00 am with qualifying, followed by the decisive three-hour Endurance Cup race at 3:00 pm. All of the action will be streamed live on the series’ official website and social media platforms, as well as the GTWorld and GTWorld Français YouTube channels.