Mercedes-AMG Motorsport celebrated numerous podium results in the third round of the Sprint Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe at Misano in Italy. In the first of the two races, Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER) drove the #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT to second place. In the second race, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS) did likewise with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP. Good achievements in the classes rounded out the successful weekend. AKKA ASP Team drivers Jim Pla (Frankreich) and Konstantin Tereschenko (RUS) claimed Silver Cup honours on Saturday. Toksport WRT pairing Juuso Puhakka (FIN) and Oscar Tunjo (COL) finished third in this class in both races. SPS automotive performance scored a third and a second place in the Silver Cup with the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
On both race days, the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams started the one-hour races at Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli from the chasers’ positions. Teams and drivers did very well in this role. On Saturday morning, five Mercedes-AMG GT3s locked out sixth to tenth place in qualifying. From this quintet, Luca Stolz (GER) made the best start with the #6 car. From seventh on the grid, he made his way past several opponents on the inside racing line, moving up to fourth place on the opening lap. After a longer phase with yellow flags, Stolz continued his charge to the front and claimed third place with an overtaking manoeuvre. Thanks to the perfectly executed driver change to Maro Engel (GER), the Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT made up another position halfway through the race. Engel commandingly held on to second place with the consistent pace of his Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the track on the Adriatic coast until the finish, securing the second podium success of the current Sprint Cup season for his team at the end of the one-hour race.
As the second driver in the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP car, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) again showed a range of overtaking manoeuvres and gradually worked his way up, having taken over from Timur Boguslavskiy (RUS). In the process, he also kept the #87 sister car at bay and eventually crossed the finish line in sixth place. With the #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3, Jim Pla (FRA) and Konstantin Tereschenko (RUS) had been leading the Silver Cup class for almost the entire duration of the race. Just before the end, however, Tereschenko had to let the fiercest class rival pass, but then countered with an attack on the final lap and brought the class win home by finishing seventh overall. A post-race penalty for an opponent saw the two AKKA ASP Team cars being promoted another position and also resulted in a top 10 classification for the second Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3. In tenth overall, the car with starting number #7 driven by Juuso Puhakka (FIN) and Oscar Tunjo (COL) added another class podium with third place in the Silver Cup.
Also third in class were Dominik Baumann (AUT) and Valentin Pierburg (GER) with the #20 SPS automotive performance car in the Pro-Am category.
Race 2: second place for Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP (#88)
On Sunday, Raffaele Marciello (#88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP) got himself a good grid position for the second race at the 4.2 kilometres long track with fifth place in qualifying. Right from the start, Marciello started chasing the drivers in front of him. However, it soon became apparent that making up positions with overtaking manoeuvres in the strong field of the best GT3 drivers would be more difficult this time. Therefore, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP relied on the pit stop strategy to make further progress. This tactic worked out perfectly: a blindingly quick driver change to Timur Boguslavskiy brought the team decisive seconds in comparison with the opposition and at the end of the pit stop window, the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was in second place. Boguslavskiy soon found his pace and continuously kept his chasers at bay. Eventually, he brought second place home in commanding fashion. With the third podium result in the sixth race of the season, Marciello and Boguslavskiy moved up into second place of the Sprint Cup drivers’ standings.
With the #89 sister car, Jules Gounon (FRA) und Petru Razvan Umbrarescu (ROM) also used the pit stop to make progress. From eleventh place in the first half of the race, the duo still made it into the top ten by finishing seventh. Once again, Juuso Puhakka and Oscar Tunjo also ended up among the best ten with the #7 Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG GT3. Ninth place overall equalled third position in the Silver Cup. Meanwhile, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT pairing Maro Engel and Luca Stolz was unlucky in this race. In the second half of the race, Stolz had to turn into the pits from fifth place following a puncture resulting from contact with another car and dropped back.
SPS automotive performance drivers Dominik Baumann and Valentin Pierburg staged an exciting duel for victory in the Pro-Am class. Having started from 18th place overall, the duo with the #20 car got closer and closer to the class leader as the race unfolded. On the final lap, Pierburg mounted a challenge for the lead and crossed the finish line wheel to wheel with his opponent. By the whisker of one thousandth of a second, he was defeated, but second place in class and 19th place overall was another respectable result for the team.
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT (#6): “Being back on the podium after the streak of bad luck we had recently is a nice feeling. I am particularly happy for the team that is doing such a good job. Thanks to Luca who put in a fantastic drive during his stint. Today, we had bad luck again with a puncture following contact with another car. But we are taking the positive things with us and we are looking forward to the next races.”
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKA ASP (#88): “It was a good weekend with important points for the championship. We are not quite happy with the fact that the opposition scored more points, but still, it was a successful weekend. We had a good pace, so we can’t complain. Nevertheless, we have to keep working hard, but I reckon that we are ready for Spa.”