After a one-month interval, the Fanatec GT2 European Series travels to Misano, Italy, this weekend (2-3 July) to mark the halfway stage in its inaugural season.
The opening two rounds at Monza and Hockenheim have already set the scene for a gripping title fight in both the Pro-Am and Am Cups, with this weekend’s double-header around the 4.2km Italian circuit set to mark the next thrilling chapter in both classes.
The series will also break new ground with a first-ever evening race to round out the weekend’s action on Saturday and, as part of the support package for the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup, there’s plenty to look forward to on an action-packed weekend in the Adriatic sunshine.
Pro-Am: Can the chasing pack topple Audi from their perch?
It’s been a strong start to the campaign for the Audi R8 LMS GT2, with High Class Racing’s #33 in the hands of Mark Patterson and Anders Fjordbach currently leading the way from the #88 entry of Peter Guelinckx and Bert Longin.
The pair shared the spoils at the season opener in Monza, but High Class found another gear in Hockenheim last time out, timing their switch to slicks on a drying track surface to dominate the first race by nearly a minute, before a blistering start from Fjordbach and a solid second stint from Patterson made it three wins from four, and established the pair’s current 23-point advantage atop the standings.
In contrast, Guelinckx had led that opening contest in fine fashion before a safety car interruption wiped out his 20-second lead, the pair eventually finishing third. That, plus contact on the approach to Sachs Kurve for Longin in race two left the #88 wondering ‘what might have been’ and will have fuelled their desire to strike back this time around.
Both will need to be wary of the ultra-consistent #5 Speed Factory Racing Porsche, however. Although yet to take a breakthrough win, Aurelijus Rusteika and Michael Vergers have three podium finishes – as many as Patterson and Fjordbach – to their name and sit just four points further back.
If the 911 GT2 RS can find its feet at Misano this weekend, there’s time yet for the pairing to cement their title credentials and begin to reduce the deficit to the top.
Luca Pirri and Stéphane Ratel have enjoyed a podium finish apiece at each of the first two events in the #88 LP Racing Audi, including a superb charge through the field from sixth to the runner-up spot in race two at Hockenheim. It could be ‘third time lucky’ for a first victory for the duo this time around, particularly on home soil for the team and Pirri.
A heavy impact for the #16 True Racing KTM of Sedhi Sarmini and Stefan Rosina put them on the sidelines – then out of the second race – at Hockenheim in May, but they return to the action this weekend looking to return to their podium-contending form at Monza.
Another KTM rounds out the Pro-Am runners, this time the #23 Reiter Engineering KTM in the hands of Peter Kox, with newcomer Einar Thorsen alongside.
Am: Ulrich, Sportec and KTM look to continue silverware-laden start to season
The #7 Sportec Motorsport KTM has been the class of the field so far among the Am runners, with a clean sweep of podium finishes and a brace of victories, pole positions and fastest laps from the opening two events.
As a result, Christoph Ulrich has a 26-point advantage over the #17 True Racing KTM of Hubert Trukenpolz and Klaus Angerhofer heading to Misano, and the Swiss driver will be re-joined by his team-mate from Monza, Adrian Spescha, for this weekend as they look to extend their points lead.
Trukenpolz and Angerhofer have been one of the most consistent outfits in the field so far, however, with podium finishes in three of the opening four rounds. Should the #7 run into any misfortune this weekend, it’s a good bet the all-Austrian pairing will be waiting in the wings to inherit the spoils.
It could have been a very different story for Kris Rosenberger and Hans-Joachim Stuck, but as things stand the #24 Reiter Engineering KTM sits third in the standings, three markers further back from Trukenpolz and Angerhofer.
A popular first victory for the pair in Am looked to have been secured at Hockenheim last time out after a near-miss at Monza, but a 25-second penalty for working on tyre pressures with the engine running during their mandatory stop unravelled all the progress made by ‘Streitzel’ off the start, plus Rosenberger’s charge to first on the road in the second stint.
They will be determined to put things right and make good on their race-winning pace thus far in Italy and could yet haul themselves back into the championship picture if they can keep their recent momentum – three second place finishes in a row – going.
The Am runners for this weekend’s double-header are completed by another newcomer to the category in Target Racing, the Italian outfit looking for glory on home soil with the #84 Lamborghini Supertrofeo for Mauro Casadei and Cédric Leimer, ensuring the famous Italian marque will be represented on the grid at their home event.
Watch the action live this weekend, plus plenty more GT action!
The two-day event will begin on Friday with a pair of extended free practice sessions. The first will run at 10:40 and the other at 15:50 (CET), with each now lasting one hour to improve the balance of seat time across the two-driver entries. Qualifying follows on later in the evening at 20:25.
On Saturday, the first of two races will go green at 12:40, before the series marks new ground with its first-ever evening race at 20:20 to round out the weekend’s action.
Fans will be able to watch all the action unfold live and free-to-view on SRO’s GT World YouTube channel on Saturday, as well as a pair of thrilling races from the Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS Sprint Cup, which boasts a bumper 29-car grid for the trip to Misano.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group