*** Four hours of paid testing took place from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday afternoon, giving the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup time to prepare for the first-ever championship meeting in Valencia. A selection of teams had already visited the 2.488-mile circuit during their pre-season testing programs.
*** Raffaele Marciello had the fastest lap of the test, during which all 27 cars took to the track. The Italian led a 1-2 for AKKA-ASP with Jules Gounon finishing second behind, while SPS Automotive Performance driver Dominik Baumann completed a one-two-three for Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos. Marciello’s time of 1: 31.931 in the # 88 Mercedes ASP beat Gounon’s best effort by three tenths.
*** Mercedes-AMG led all three categories as Baumann dominated the Pro-Am and AKKA-ASP’s Jim Pla led the Silver Cup in fifth place overall. The last part of Friday’s race was impacted by light rain, ensuring that most of the fastest laps were accumulated during the first two hours, with the main exception of Gounon in 1: 32.227 which occurred during a last dry period.
*** Incidents during testing included a trip through the gravel for the # 31 Team WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo which caused a short red flag, as well as stops for the Porsche 911 GT3 R from Dinamic Motorsport and the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Barwell Motorsport.
*** The results of the paid test session are available here.
*** The Ricardo Tormo circuit is located just over 21 km west of downtown Valencia. The MotoGP and Formula E circuit is the first counterclockwise circuit on the Sprint Cup calendar since the Moscow Raceway in 2015. The circuit was recently confirmed as a 2022 calendar stop.
*** There has been no change in the balance of performance since the previous round at Brands Hatch which, like Valencia, is defined as a “Class D” circuit by SRO.
*** The minimum pit stop time for the Pro-Am class has been set at 61 seconds, from refueling to refueling.
*** Cars are allowed to exceed the limits of the track at turn 4, but they must stay in the green zone during runoff. “No part of the car further than the green” is allowed, according to the clerk of the course.
*** Markus Winkelhock replaced Frédéric Vervisch in the # 26 Audi Sainteloc Racing due to the Belgian driver being quarantined after testing positive for COVID-19. Winkelhock has already run two sprint heats this year, replacing WRT’s Kelvin van der Linde at Zandvoort and teaming up with Finlay Hutchison in an additional entry at Sainteloc for Misano.
*** Jack Aitken is making progress in his recovery from injuries sustained in a major four-car crash at Spa on July 31st. In an update on his 26th birthday, driver Emil Frey Racing said: “The rehabilitation is going well, my collarbone in particular has recovered quite quickly since coming out of the sling. I have a few scans coming up to check my back, but generally happy!
*** Dries Vanthoor says the WRT team may approach this weekend “a little more relaxed” than usual after he and Charles Weerts won the Sprint Cup title ahead of Brands Hatch. “It will be a good opportunity to take advantage of what we are doing with less pressure, with the whole team,” said the Audi factory driver.
*** Selected GTWC Europe teams will be competing in the Indianapolis 8 Hours next month, as part of early participation in Round 2 of the Pirelli-powered Intercontinental GT Challenge. Sportscar365 understands that Sprint Cup leaders WRT and AKKA-ASP are among the European teams preparing to take the lead in the United States.
*** The list of registrants for the 8 o’clock Indianapolis should be published next week.
*** CMR is interested in participating in the 9 Hours of Kyalami, end of the IGTC season, with a Bentley Continental GT3. The French GTWC Europe Endurance Cup team includes a South African driver in Stuart White. “Having a South African driver in the CMR family makes you want to go,” team boss Charly Bourachot told Endurance-Info. “Going to Kyalami would be a great end to the season.”
*** The GT World Challenge America Esports Endurance Cup starts this weekend with the 12 Hours of Bathurst. Saturday’s race will mark the first leg of a three-round season.
*** Both training sessions will take place on Saturday. Free practice begins at 9:30 a.m. CEST (3:30 a.m. EST) while pre-qualifying begins at 11:45 a.m. local (5:45 a.m. EST).
*** The two 10-minute qualifying sessions will also take place on Saturday, with the first scheduled to start at 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EST). Race 1 starts at 10:00 a.m. CEST on Sunday.
Laurent Mercier contributed to this report