Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts clinched their third consecutive Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup title by finishing third in the penultimate race of the season in Valencia.
The Team WRT pair established an insurmountable 18-point gap with rivals Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, who finished seventh, to seal the championship with one race to go.
Silver Cup drivers Ulysse de Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean won Saturday’s 60-minute competition in their 2020 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo, despite a post-qualifying Balance of Performance change that gave all the cars except the Ferraris and Audis a 10kg break.
Weerts started from second on the grid but was dropped behind Tresor by Car Collection Audi driver Simon Gachet at the first corner.
De Pauw led from Gachet and Weerts through an early safety car period, caused by an accident involving the No. 54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Weerts put pressure on Gachet during the opening period, but seemed hesitant to make a risky move that could have affected his and Vanthoor’s title bid, while De Pauw started with a six-second lead.
Car Collection and WRT gained ground on AF Corse during the mid-race pit window, with Jean leading less than two seconds after driver changes took hold.
However, the Frenchman held off Gachet’s co-driver Christopher Haase and Vanthoor to secure his and De Pauw’s second win of the year, also moving the AF Corse pair to third place overall in the race. Sprint Cup.
Further back in the field, it was an uphill battle for Marciello and Boguslavskiy, who entered Race 1 trailing Vanthoor and Weerts by 11.5 points in the standings.
His cause was hampered by Boguslavskiy qualifying in 16th, before receiving a three-place drop on the grid due to his accumulation of three behavioral warning points, most recently earned by hampering the No. 188 Garage 59 McLaren 720S GT3.
Boguslavskiy claimed a handful of positions during the first stage, while Marciello came out of the pits in eleventh place.
The Swiss driver moved into the top 10 when his Akkodis ASP teammate Tristan Vautier was brought down by JP Motorsport’s Vincent Abril at Turn 8.
He was then given a chance to make further progress when a second safety car period ensued with 12 minutes to go, after Ezequiel Companc’s Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG crashed due to a suspension problem.
However, Marciello was stuck behind Sainteloc Junior Team’s Patric Niederhauser for several laps and only pulled away with three minutes to go.
A move past Akkodis ASP teammate Thomas Drouet yielded eighth place, while a 10-second penalty after the race for Abril gave Marciello seventh place, but this was not enough to keep the fight alive. for the championship.
A sixth-place finish for the No. 89 Akkodis ASP pair would have left the championship mathematically open heading into the final race of the season.
Benjamin Goethe and Thomas Neubauer finished fourth in their Silver WRT Audi class, which was seventh in the first stage before gaining three places in the pits.
Goethe held off Attempto Racing Audi driver Dennis Marschall in the end, while Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto took sixth place in the No. 12 Car Collection Audi Tresor.
Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald sealed the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup Pro-Am title with one race to go despite finishing fourth and last in class on Saturday.
The Garage 59 pair fell back in the running order after late contact with the No. 52 AF Corse Ferrari of their main championship rivals Andrea Bertolini and Louis Machiels.
Bertolini crossed the line in third place, leaving MacDonald and Ramos with a mathematically safe margin of 18 points in the class standings.
Christian Klien and Patryk Krupinski won the Pro-Am race in their JP Motorsport McLaren.
With De Pauw and Jean already confirmed as Silver Cup champions ahead of the Valencia weekend, the titles of all three drivers are locked in before the final race of the season, although the team championship remains open between WRT and ASP. .
RESULTS: Race 1