Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS title battle intensifies with mid-season trip to Zandvoort

  • Third of five short-format events brings 25-car field to Dutch seaside venue
  • Akkodis ASP (Mercedes-AMG) and Team WRT (Audi) resume the duel for the title in the dunes
  • AF Corse (Ferrari) and JP Motorsport (McLaren) seek to consolidate in Silver Cup and Pro-Am

The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season enters its busiest time this weekend (June 17-19) with the third leg of the Sprint Cup calendar taking the short format championship to Zandvoort.

First opened in 1949, the circuit has retained much of its old-school charm, while a recent facelift has added extra excitement with banking at Arie Luyendijkbocht and Hugenholtzbocht. Its location amid the rolling sand dunes of the North Sea coast also makes the weather unpredictable, with rain showers and bright sunshine often following each other in quick succession.

If the Fanatec Sprint events at Brands Hatch and Magny-Cours are any indication, a highly competitive competition is in store at the Dutch site. The championship battle quickly turned into a two-horse race between Akkodis ASP (Mercedes-AMG) and Team WRT (Audi), with the former holding a slim advantage heading into this weekend’s encounter.

The opening phase of the season saw AF Corse duo Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean emerge as the class of the Silver Cup field in their Ferraris, while McLaren JP Motorsport team took the lead in Pro Am. But with the season not quite half way through, there’s still plenty to play for as the paddock makes its annual trip to Zandvoort.

Marciello/Boguslavskiy’s form makes Akkodis ASP the team to beat

The battle for the Fanatec Sprint crown quickly became a duel between defending champion Team WRT and longtime rival Akkodis ASP. The latter leads the standings after victories at Brands Hatch and Magny-Cours for the #89 Mercedes-AMG crew of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, who are back in full force after a difficult 2021. They are joined by sister car #88, which sees Jules Gounon returning alongside Jim Pla.

The #32 Audi of Team WRT got off to a good start, although a difficult race to fifth place in the second Magny-Cours competition left Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts 11.5 points off the championship lead heading to Zandvoort. The series’ most successful driver duo are yet to win on the Dutch track and will be determined to put that right this weekend. The #33 sister car showed excellent pace at Magny-Cours with Chris Mies and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer sharing the wheel, while Valentino Rossi hopes for more progress alongside Audi Sport stalwart Frédéric Vervisch in the #46.

Tresor by Car Collection took a first series pole and a first overall podium last time out thanks to Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet. The No.11 crew are former winners at Zandvoort and will be joined by a strong sister team of Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto. The Saintéloc Junior Team signs its first podium of the season at home with the #25 of Patric Niederhauser and Aurélien Panis, while Attempto Racing adds another Audi for Dennis Marschall and Pieter Schothorst.

Dinamic Motorsport did not have an ideal start to the season, but the Porsche team scored points at Magny-Cours with a 10th place finish for the #54 crew of Christian Engelhart and Adrian De Leener. They will again be joined by the #56 duo of Klaus Bachler and Giorgio Roda as both Dinamic crews go in search of a solid result at Zandvoort.

Finally, JP Motorsport will add an additional car to the Pro field with regular Fanatec Endurance drivers Vince Abril and Dennis Lind teaming up at the wheel of the #112 McLaren. This completes the team’s Pro-Am commitment for the full season and ensures another potential winner is on the grid for this weekend’s event.

AF Corse and JP Motorsport aim for more Silver Cup and Pro-Am success

With three victories and a second place in the first quartet of races, the AF Corse duo Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean have established themselves as the great favorites for the Silver Cup. The #53 Ferrari crew sit third in the overall Fanatec Sprint standings after a superb start to the season and will be confident of their chances at Zandvoort after finishing on the overall podium on last season’s trip to the Netherlands .

Their closest Silver Cup challenge comes from Akkodis ASP and the #87 Mercedes-AMG duo of Thomas Drouet and Casper Stevenson. Although they are yet to claim a class victory, they have finished on the podium in all four races and are well placed to strike should De Pauw/Jean run into trouble. By contrast, the #86 Mercedes-AMG sister of Petru Umbrarescu and Igor Walilko is yet to score a top-three finish and the pair will be hoping to achieve that at Zandvoort.

The #99 Attempto Racing Audi of Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll has looked solid this season, taking two second places and finishing third ahead of the trip to Zandvoort. The only team to have beaten AF Corse so far is the Saintéloc Junior Team, who triumphed as soon as Magny-Cours opened thanks to the n°26 Audi of Gilles Magnus and Nicolas Baert. There was less joy for the WRT team, whose Silver Cup entry was the leader in Fanatec Endurance but has yet to match that performance in Sprint with its #30 crew of Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe.

After switching to Mercedes-AMG kit this season, Sky Tempesta Racing is still striving to recapture its old form. Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III are hoping the midpoint of the Fanatec Sprint campaign can bring a solid result. Garage 59 also rebranded over the winter as they returned to the McLaren fold and their Silver Cup range got off to a good start to the campaign, with a first class victory now a realistic target for Ethan Simoni and Manuel Maldonado.

GSM Novamarine has a brand new lineup this weekend, although both riders have considerable experience with Lamborghini machines. The Monegasque team will field 2019 European Super Trofeo champion Danny Kroes, who is making his series debut at home alongside occasional Fanatec Endurance rider Lucas Mauron.

As expected, the Pro-Am battle was close. With a pair of wins on the board, Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien (#111 JP Motorsport McLaren) have the advantage early in the race. The #21 AF Corse Ferrari duo of Hugo Delacour and Cédric Sbirrazzuoli sit second in the standings, 11.5 behind the leaders, with both teams enjoying instant success in their first Fanatec Sprint campaigns.

Defending class champion Miguel Ramos also remains firmly in the hunt. He and Dean MacDonald took the opening race honors at Magny-Cours and the Garage 59 McLaren duo are just half a point behind Delacour/Sbirrazzuoli. The #52 AF Corse Ferrari of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini fell 27 points behind the leaders after dropping out of the second Magny-Cours contest, but this experienced crew is still capable of fighting for Pro-Am honours.

Confirmation of a series of familiar assistance for the busy meeting of Zandvoort

The Zandvoort weekend will feature support actions from a quartet of top-level categories, all of which joined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS previously in 2022. The Porsche Carrera Cup France, the Alpine Elf Europa Cup and the Clio Cup Series were part of the program at Magny-Cours, while the European Formula Regional Championship by Alpine joins for a second consecutive event after being part of the Circuit Paul Ricard accompanying package.

The weekend will follow a standard Fanatec Sprint format, starting with practice and pre-qualifying on Friday. Qualifying sessions will take place on Saturday and Sunday mornings, setting the grids for one-hour races which will take place at 2:00 p.m. on both days. Live coverage begins on Saturday and will be available on various online platforms, including GT World’s YouTube channel, with commentary in English, French, Italian and German.

The trip to Zandvoort kicks off a busy period for Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. Indeed, once the checkered flag has fallen on Sunday afternoon, the teams will make the usual trip to Belgium for the official test days of the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa (June 21-22). Before that, though, it’s time for Sprint racing to come back into the limelight.

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CALENDAR

friday june 17
10:00 a.m. – Free practice
2:50 p.m. – Pre-Qualifying

Saturday June 18
09:45 – Qualifying 1 LIVE
2:00 p.m. – Race 1 LIVE

Sunday June 19
09:30 – Qualifying 2 LIVE
2:00 p.m. – Race 2 LIVE

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STATS AND FACTS

• Danny Kroes makes his series debut with GSM Novamarine, while team-mate Lucas Mauron gets his first Fanatec Sprint outing.

• Kroes won the 2019 Lamborghini Super Trofeo championship in the Pro category. Five of the six events in the series were held alongside Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS

• Vince Abril is ready for his first Fanatec Sprint outing since his double victory at the Hungaroring in 2019. His team-mate Dennis Lind makes his Sprint debut.

• Raffaele Marciello has set the fastest lap in every Fanatec Sprint session he has contested this season, a total of 10 in a row.

• This will be the seventh Fanatec Sprint weekend in Zandvoort. Only Brands Hatch and Misano (both 8) have held the Short Format Championship on more than one occasion.

• Serial lap record: 1m33.586s – Ricardo Feller, #14 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini (2021)

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