Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS will join a festival of motor racing next weekend (13-15 May) when Circuit de Nevers Magny-Cours plays host to the second stop on the 2022 Sprint Cup schedule.
The annual trip to France follows a highly competitive opening round at Brands Hatch where battle lines were drawn between this year’s championship hopefuls. Mercedes-AMG squad Akkodis ASP emerged from the event with a narrow points lead and will look to consolidate its advantage on home turf, while AF Corse (Ferrari) and JP Motorsport (McLaren) top the Silver Cup and Pro-Am standings respectively.
A 25-car field will travel to the 4.4km circuit in the Nièvre department, where corner names like Imola, Nürburgring and Adelaide recall famous tracks from across the globe. Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS will be one of eight championships featured on a packed schedule, with more than 10 hours of racing set to take place between Friday and Sunday.
Indeed, Magny-Cours represents one of the busiest events on the calendar. The Sprint Cup hopefuls will contest a pair of one-hour races, the first taking place shortly before sunset on Saturday evening and the second on Sunday afternoon. With this season’s storylines beginning to develop, it promises to be a must-see contest.
Akkodis ASP on top ahead of home event
Akkodis ASP can approach its home event in a confident mood. Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy seized the early championship advantage with a dominant victory in the second Brands Hatch contest, the #89 Mercedes-AMG duo having earlier banked a podium in race 1. Marciello was on a different level at the British venue, while Boguslavskiy delivered one of his best weekends.
The sister #88 machine also enjoyed a solid start to the Sprint Cup season, with Jim Pla and Jules Gounon scoring a podium in race 2. The latter will skip his home event to contest the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour, with 2014 Sprint Cup champion Maxi Götz joining Pla. This will represent the German driver’s first appearance in the short-format series since the final round of his title-winning campaign, though Götz has remained a regular in the Endurance Cup.
Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts made a strong start to their title defence with a pair of second-place finishes in the #32 Team WRT Audi. The Belgian duo were winners at Magny-Cours last term and should be among the leading contenders again. The sister #46 crew of Valentino Rossi and Frédéric Vervisch ended the Brands Hatch weekend on a positive note with points in race 2, but the #33 Team WRT Audi duo of Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Chris Mies were caught up in a number of incidents and will hope for a calmer weekend in France.
Having put points on the board at Brands Hatch with a ninth-place finish in the opening contest, Attempto Racing will once again deploy its #66 Audi for Pieter Schothorst and Dennis Marschall. Saintéloc Junior Team has had the speed to fight for the podium at each event this season, but the French squad is yet to convert its pace into a top result. Magny-Cours has been kind to the team in the past, making the #25 Audi of Patric Niederhauser and Aurélien Panis one to watch at its home event.
Two more Audi entries come from the Tresor by Car Collection stable. The Italian squad has made a fine start to its Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS programme and sits third in the overall teams’ standings, behind only WRT and Akkodis ASP. Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet share the #11 car, while the Italian pairing of Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto handle the #12 machine.
Brands Hatch was a tough weekend for Dinamic Motorsport, with both of the Porsche squad’s cars caught up in incidents during Sunday’s races. They will aim to bounce back with Christian Engelhart and Adrien De Leener handling the #54 machine, while Klaus Bachler shares the #56 with Giorgio Roda.
The #38 JOTA McLaren completes the Pro field. Rob Bell and Ollie Wilkinson ended a challenging home event on a positive note with a 10th-place finish in race 2. The 720S was strong at Magny-Cours last term and the British outfit will hope to convert that into a strong haul of points in the season’s second Sprint Cup contest.
AF Corse and JP Motorsport looking to pull clear in Silver Cup and Pro-Am
It would be fair to suggest that the #53 AF Corse Ferrari was among the favourites for Silver Cup success this term, but few could have predicted what happened at Brands Hatch. Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean produced a sensational overall win in race 1 and backed it up with fifth in the second run, sealing a class sweep in the process. After that performance, they are clearly the crew to beat.
Among the Ferrari squad’s rivals, Akkodis ASP looked to be the strongest with its #87 Mercedes-AMG. The team will hope to triumph on home soil with the crew of Thomas Drouet and Casper Stevenson, while the sister #86 will aim for a much better weekend after a bruising opener for Igor Walilko and Petru Umbrarescu. Fellow Mercedes-AMG squad Sky Tempesta Racing also struggled at its home event and will look to bounce back with Christopher Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III sharing the #93 machine.
Attempto Racing scored a double podium at Brands Hatch and looks to be a serious contender for class honours this year with its young duo of Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll. Saintéloc Junior Team won overall at Magny-Cours in 2020 with its Silver Cup car, though for the rookie pairing of Gilles Magnus and Nicolas Baert a class podium would represent a good result. A clean weekend would suffice for the #30 Team WRT Audi after it suffered an early exit in the Brands Hatch opener. Given the opportunity, Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe are capable of fighting for the class win.
With both drivers new to this level of GT3 racing, Garage 59 will have been satisfied with its performance at Brands Hatch. Manuel Maldonado and Ethan Simioni scored a best finish of fourth in race 2 and will have a chance to add further experience at Magny-Cours. GSM Novamarine completes the Silver Cup field with its Lamborghini crew of Isaac Tutumlu Lopez and Gerhard Tweraser.
While its overall win at Brands Hatch was a first for AF Corse in the Sprint Cup, the Italian squad has no shortage of success in the Pro-Am class. Indeed, the #21 Ferrari of Hugo Delacour and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli bagged race 1 honours at the British track, while the experienced #52 duo of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini scored a double podium. Both should be back among the contenders at Magny-Cours.
Nevertheless, it is the JP Motorsport duo of Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien who lead the standings after capturing race 2 victory with a brilliant performance in their #111 McLaren. With the #188 Garage 59 McLaren of Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald also earning a podium at Brands Hatch, all four Pro-Am cars are competitive and will be vying for class victory at Magny-Cours.
Packed weekend of racing in store
Magny-Cours represents the busiest sprint cup weekend of the season, with eight series competing and no fewer than 20 races staged over three days. FFSA GT French Championship shares the headline slot and has attracted a superb grid of 40 cars this season. They include entries from Akkodis ASP and Saintéloc Junior Team, while drivers Jim Pla, Simon Gachet and Thomas Drouet will pull double duty by contesting both championships.
Further support comes from FFSA French Touring Car Championship – TC France, which features tin-top machinery from the likes of BMW, Peugeot and Renault, while F4 French Championship adds single-seater racing to the bill. There will be one-make action from the Porsche Carrera Cup France, Clio Cup Series and Alpine Elf Europa Cup, as well as Mitjet 2L Trophy on a packed weekend of motorsport.
Live coverage begins with Saturday’s opening qualifying session and will be available across a variety of online platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel, which offers commentary in English, French, German and Italian. With championship battles heating up in each class, it promises to be a thrilling weekend from start to finish.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group