Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts are celebrating a third consecutive Fanatec GT Sprint Drivers’ title after the #32 Team WRT Audi duo finished P3 in Saturday’s race at Valencia, which was won by the #52 AF Corse Ferrari of Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre. Cowboy.
The Pro-Am drivers’ title was also decided in favor of Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald, despite the #188 Garage 59 McLaren finishing fourth in its class. The #111 JP Motorsport McLaren of Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien won on the road, but it was not enough to deprive the British team of championship glory with one race to spare.
Having secured the Silver Cup crown last time out at Misano, the #52 Ferrari started the penultimate Fanatec GT Sprint contest of 2022 from overall pole. De Pauw was not questioned as the action began, while Weerts, the second-place starter, looked ready to be swallowed by the pack. In fact, he dropped just one position behind the #11 Tresor by Car Collection Audi driven by Simon Gachet, in what was an eventful opening tour.
In order, Weerts and Vanthoor’s only championship threat was in a pinch. Timur Boguslavskiy started 19th at the wheel of the #89 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG and made limited progress early on, though he did well to avoid further trouble as 26 cars battled for space. There was only one incident worth mentioning, with contact sending the #54 Porsche Dynamic Motorsport into the barriers and out of the race.
As the green flag waved, De Pauw quickly began to establish a lead at the front of the order, while Weerts pressured Gachet but was unable to make a move. The Belgian had no need to take any chances, with P3 more than enough to secure the crown, while the #89 Akkodis ASP car remained in the order.
As the pit window opened, Tresor by Car Collection were the first team to blink, calling out Gachet a lap ahead of their rivals. The Italian team pulled off a lightning-quick stop, ensuring that Christopher Haase stayed ahead of the no32 Audi and closed in on the no53 Ferrari as they both pitted on the following lap. Vanthoor climbed aboard the first, while Jean took the controls of the lead car.
With the #32 Audi sitting in third place, the story was now about what Akkodis ASP could do. Raffaele Marciello came out of the pits in 11th place, five places short of where he needed to be to keep the championship alive until the final day. The field was packed with 20 minutes remaining to clear the stranded No. 90 Madpanda Motorsports Mercedes-AMG, which had suffered a technical failure and crashed into the barriers.
When racing resumed, Marciello had 15 minutes to perform a minor miracle. He gained a place when the #88 sister Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG found itself in the gravel, but was powerless against the #25 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi driven by Patric Niederhauser. Marciello couldn’t afford a risky move, with yet another Audi, Chris Mies’s #33 Team WRT entry, filling his mirrors.
Marciello finally managed to pass Niederhauser with less than five minutes to go, the pair racing side-by-side for several corners before the Mercedes-AMG finally completed the move into Turn 11. That moved him up to ninth, which became eighth next time. when Thomas Drouet moved the sister entry #87 Akkodis ASP to the side to help his teammate’s charge.
But it was not enough to prevent the WRT team from claiming its third consecutive drivers’ title with the unstoppable combination of Vanthoor and Weerts. Jean took the checkered flag to seal a second overall win of the season for the #53 Ferrari, followed by Haase and then championship winner Vanthoor.
On a stellar day for Audi, three more R8s completed the top six. The #30 Team WRT machine was fourth and second in the Silver Cup standings, followed by the #66 Attempto Racing entry and the #12 Tresor by Car Collection team. The #112 JP Motorsport McLaren crossed the line in seventh, but a post-race penalty dropped it down the order and promoted Marciello to a higher place.
In fact, the #89 Akkodis ASP team finished just one place away from keeping the title alive, although Marciello can take solace in the fact that he has a chance to clinch the combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS drivers’ championship tomorrow at the afternoon. The overall Fanatec GT Sprint Teams Championship is yet to be settled, with Akkodis ASP just a few points behind WRT heading into tomorrow’s decider.
The Pro-Am drivers’ crown was put to sleep in today’s competition as the Garage 59 pair of Ramos and MacDonald did enough to seal their class championship. A late-race collision with the #52 AF Corse Ferrari left the #188 McLaren fourth at the checkered flag, but having built up a sizeable lead ahead of the decider weekend, they can now afford to celebrate.
JP Motorsport took victory in their #111 McLaren of Krupinski and Klien, beating the #21 Ferrari AF Corse of Hugo Delacour and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli on pole. The team championship remains on the line in tomorrow’s final, with AF Corse leading Garage 59 ahead of the decider.
Qualifying for tomorrow’s season-closing Fanatec GT Sprint contest in Valencia will begin at 09:00 CEST, while the race turns green at 14:00.