Title glory hangs in the balance as the 26-car Fanatec GT heads to the 2022 Sprint Cup Final in Valencia

  • Absolute titles and Pro-Am Fanatec GT Sprint at stake in the Spanish 4 km circuit
  • The combined series championships are also up for grabs ahead of the endurance final in Barcelona
  • Strong 26-car entry list confirmed to wrap up 2022 short-form event

The champions will be crowned next weekend at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit in Valencia (September 16-18), where a pair of 60-minute races will close the curtain on the 2022 Fanatec GT Sprint season.

Both the overall and Pro-Am titles are on the line at the Spanish 4km venue, which made its first appearance on the calendar in 2021 and is hosting the final once again this term. It will conclude a five-round championship that began at Brands Hatch in May before passing through Magny-Cours, Zandvoort and Misano, preparing for this weekend’s decider.

A 26-car field will contest the event, maintaining the same high level seen throughout the 2022 campaign. With seven of the eight races this term won from pole position, qualifying will be crucial in what promises to be a close final battle. for the Fanatec GT Sprint crown.

Team WRT and Akkodis ASP set for championship showdown

From the first weekend of the season, two teams established themselves as favorites for the overall Fanatec GT Sprint championship: Team WRT and Akkodis ASP. Representing Audi and Mercedes-AMG respectively, they will face each other in Valencia to dispute both the teams’ and drivers’ titles.

WRT has the advantage in both classifications. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts lead the drivers’ standings with 109.5 points, giving the Belgian duo an excellent chance to seal their third successive crown. The teams championship is closer, with WRT on 114.5 points and Akkodis ASP just 4.5 behind.

This will be a particularly significant weekend for Team WRT following the announcement that it will conclude its glittering partnership with Audi at the end of 2022. As such, Valencia will mark the final Fanatec GT Sprint event for this highly successful combination, which has amassed 44 race wins and 13 overall Fanatec GT Sprint titles since 2013.

The team trying to prevent another success is Akkodis ASP. The #89 Mercedes-AMG team of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy has 98 points, putting them within striking distance of the WRT duo. What makes this battle particularly fascinating is that Mercedes-AMG dominated at Valencia last season, suggesting that the competitive advantage could tip towards Akkodis ASP at the crucial moment.

Both teams have additional Pro Tickets that could play a role in the outcome of the title battle. The WRT team will call on the #31 of Chris Mies and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, as well as the #46 of Frédéric Vervisch and Valentino Rossi, the latter returning to a track he won twice as a MotoGP rider. Akkodis ASP adds the #88 Mercedes-AMG, which will see regular driver Jim Pla accompanied by a backup teammate after Jules Gounon was ruled out with a back injury.

Tresor by Car Collection hopes to conclude its inaugural Fanatec GT Sprint campaign by sealing third place in the team standings. The Italian outfit will field its usual two-car effort with Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet in the #11 Audi, while Mattia Drudi will be joined by youngster Lorenzo Patrese in the #12 car.

There will be two more Audi entries among the professional racers, with the Saintéloc Junior Team fielding the #25 machine for Patrick Niederhauser and Aurélien Panis, while Attempto Racing retains Dennis Marschall and Pieter Schothorst in the #66 car. These two teams finished one-two at the recent Fanatec GT Endurance event in Hockenheim and will be looking to carry that form into the next contest.

The McLaren JP Motorsport team hope to continue their impressive Fanatec GT Sprint speed with the #112 McLaren duo of Vince Abril and Dennis Lind. Italian team Dinamic Motorsport completes the Pro field with a pair of Porsche cars and will be looking for a strong finish on a track where it impressed last year. Christian Engelhart and Adrien de Leener will share the #54 machine, while Klaus Bachler and Giorgio Roda will drive #56.

Garage 59 and AF Corse in front in the decisive Pro-Am, the Silver Cup was settled before the final

While the Pro-Am championship remains on the line, the Garage 59 pairing of Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald are in a strong position to seal the top spot in Valencia. A perfect weekend at Misano left the McLaren duo with 98.5 points, 20.5 ahead of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini (#52 AF Corse Ferrari). Garage 59 has been in good form lately and could even end up with the title in race 1.

With 71.5 points on the board, Cedric Sbirrazzuoli also retains an outside shot and will join his regular teammate Hugo Delacour in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari. There is also a slim chance that Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien could take the title from him, although a torrid weekend at Misano leaves the pair 32 points adrift with 35 available.

While the drivers’ crown seems to favor Garage 59, AF Corse has the upper hand in the teams’ championship. The Italian outfit hold a three-point lead over their rivals and, as a two-car effort, enjoy greater goalscoring potential. As such, the title honors may very well be split between two squads when the final checkered flag falls in Valencia.

The Silver Cup title was settled before the summer break, with the AF Corse duo of Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean putting the teams’ and drivers’ championships beyond question at Misano. The #53 Ferrari duo have dominated since the season opener, taking five wins and a further three podium finishes in eight races. They will be looking for even more trophies in Valencia and could finish third in the overall Fanatec Sprint standings.

The battle for second place is considerably closer. Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll (#99 Attempto Racing Audi) hold the lead with 76.5 points, followed by the #87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG duo of Casper Stevenson and Thomas Drouet on 69. The newly crowned champions Fanatec GT Endurance Silver Cup champions Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe (#30 Team WRT Audi) are also in contention having collected 65.5 points and hope to seal the combined class title in Valencia.

Akkodis ASP will race a second car for Igor Walilko and Petru Umbrarescu, who are seeking a podium finish from the inaugural class of 2022. Sky Tempesta Racing will do the same with Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III sharing the #93 Mercedes-AMG, while the the German marque. The list is bolstered by the #90 Madpanda Motorsport entry. The Spanish team makes its first Fanatec GT Sprint start of 2022 on home soil, with Ezequiel Pérez Companc and a teammate to be confirmed joining the grid for the final.

There is more Audi representation in the Silver Cup thanks to the entry of the #26 Sainteloc junior team of Nicolas Baert and Gilles Magnus, while GSM Novamarine ends its debut season with the #18 Lamborghini of Dutch duo Danny Kroes and Daan Pijl. Garage 59 rounds out the 26-car field, with youngsters Manuel Maldonado and Ethan Simoni sharing their #159 McLaren.

Versatile support pack ready for the Fanatec GT Sprint season-closing meeting

In addition to the championship battles to be decided in Valencia, the event will also represent the final round of the global Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS. Mercedes-AMG currently enjoys a lead of more than 4,000 points over Audi Sport, putting the German marque on the verge of a fourth successive crown. Six of the seven competing brands will be on track in Spain, with Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and McLaren also in action.

The Valencia weekend will feature a particularly diverse support programme. The Fanatec GT2 European Series will host its fifth and penultimate round of the 2022 season, while more on-track action comes from the Porsche Carrera Cup France and the FFSA F4 French Championship. In addition, fans can also look forward to a Volrace Demonstration Series, a traveling on-track exhibition that will bring some spectacular cars to the Spanish circuit.

The event will follow the regular Fanatec GT Sprint schedule, starting with free practice and pre-qualifying on Friday. The opening qualifying session and 60-minute race will take place on Saturday, while the same schedule will be repeated on Sunday. As such, the final checkered flag will fall at 15:00 on Sunday afternoon, bringing the curtain down on another action-packed season of Fanatec Sprint competition.

___

CALENDAR

friday september 16

09:40-11:00: Free practice
13:10–14:30: Prequalification

saturday september 17

09:00–09:20: Classification 1
14:00–15:00: Race 1

Sunday September 18

09:00–09:20: Classification 2
14:00–15:00: race 2

___

STATISTICS AND FACTS

– Ahead of its final Fanatec GT Sprint event using Audi machinery, the WRT team has amassed 44 of the Ingolstadt-based marque’s 48 overall wins in the series.

– A win at Valencia would see Dries Vanthoor overtake his brother Laurens to become the most successful driver in Fanatec GT Sprint history. They are currently tied at 14 wins.

– Seven of this year’s eight Fanatec GT Sprint races have been won from pole, more than in any season since the current weekend format was introduced in 2018. In the 14-race 2015 season, 10 races were won from pole.

– Raffaele Marciello can secure the combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS drivers’ title in Valencia. If the Akkodis ASP driver scores no more than 14 points less than Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, he will claim a second overall championship.

– Akkodis ASP can also clinch the team title, but the Mercedes-AMG squad must edge WRT by six points to secure the crown in Valencia.

– The battle for the combined Pro-Am drivers’ title is the closest of all, with just 1.5 points between Miguel Ramos (Garage 59) and the AF Corse duo of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini.

– Lap record: 1m31.931s (Raffaele Marciello, #88 Mercedes-AMG, 2022)

___

See also  Port Clinton's Meyers fills the big shoes with style on offense/defense

Leave a Comment