Following the opening skirmishes at Brands Hatch the battle for the Sprint Cup crown moved to Magny-Cours last weekend, where the early championship favourites once again went head-to-head.
Team WRT struck first with victory in Saturday’s contest, but a resounding win for Akkodis ASP on Sunday afternoon sent the French squad back to the top of the standings. This was another hard-fought encounter between Audi and Mercedes-AMG, the latter just shading the event thanks to a one-two finish in the second contest.
As ever the battle at the front was only part of the story, with Ferrari and McLaren also enjoying winning weekends at Magny-Cours. Indeed, plenty of stories and stats emerged from a busy weekend in the French countryside.
Team WRT duo Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts won the opening contest to further enhance their Sprint Cup resumé. This was Vanthoor’s 11th overall win in the short-format series, three shy of the record held by his brother Laurens. Weerts earned his eighth win, all of which have come alongside Vanthoor. It was also Team WRT’s 41st victory and Audi’s 44th in the Sprint Cup, both of which are series records.
Not for the first time, the pit stops were crucial to WRT’s success. The #32 made the fastest stop of race 1 with a total pit time of 40.832 seconds, a few tenths quicker than the #12 Tresor by Car Collection Audi of Drudi/Ghiotto (41.175s). Had the Italian squad’s sister #11 entry completed a similar stop, Christopher Haase would have emerged ahead of Vanthoor; instead, the #32 gained 2.8 seconds on the Gachet/Haase car and 3.4 seconds on the #89 Mercedes-AMG of Marciello/Boguslavskiy.
Race 2 honours went to the #89 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy. Marciello now has nine Sprint wins, moving him above 2017 series champion Robin Frijns, while Boguslavskiy earned his fourth on Sunday afternoon. Akkodis ASP has taken 11 victories, while this was the 27th overall Sprint Cup triumph for Mercedes-AMG machinery.
With the #32 Audi finishing sixth in race 2, Marciello/Boguslavskiy lead the Sprint Cup standings with 56.5 points. Vanthoor/Weerts are second on 45, while the impressive AF Corse Ferrari pairing of De Pauw/Jean are third with 32.5 points. Marciello also tops the overall drivers’ standings, having finished all five of this season’s races on the podium.
Marciello has kicked off 2022 in scintillating form and is now on an incredible run of 10 successive fastest laps. The Mercedes-AMG factory driver has posted the best time in every Sprint Cup session he has contested this term, breaking the series track records at Brands Hatch and Magny-Cours in the process. The benchmark at the latter now stands at 1m35.444s.
With the #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG clinching runner-up in race 2, Maxi Götz scored his first Sprint Cup podium since winning at Zolder in 2014. That is a gap of 2,765 days, considerably more than the 14 days teammate Jim Pla had waited since his previous top-three at Brands Hatch.
Simon Gachet clinched his second overall pole in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS competition by topping Q1. This gave series newcomer Tresor by Car Collection its maiden series pole at only the fourth time of asking. Gachet’s previous P1 start was also at Magny-Cours in 2020.
Tresor by Car Collection went on to add a maiden podium finish in the opening race. The Italian squad has enjoyed a superb start to life in Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, demonstrating front-running pace in both the Sprint and Endurance formats.
Saintéloc Junior Team earned its first overall podium of 2022 with third-place finish in Sunday’s contest. Patric Niederhauser received a five-second penalty for contact with Maxi Götz during the opening stint, but this was negated by a 10-second penalty for the #33 Team WRT Audi.
The #33 finished second on the road in race 2 after an excellent performance from Chris Mies and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer but was penalised for an unsafe release. The car was slow to move away from its stop and emerged into the path of the #188 Garage 59 McLaren, which was already up to speed in the fast lane.
This was still a good showing for Simmenauer and Mies, who had already scored their first points of the season with a ninth-place finish in the opening contest. It followed a tough weekend at Brands Hatch where the #33 Audi was eliminated from race 1 by a multi-car accident and then spun out of a points-paying position in the second contest.
Dinamic Motorsport earned its first points of the Sprint Cup campaign in race 2, with Adrian De Leener keeping Valentino Rossi at a comfortable distance to secure 10th spot in his #54 Porsche. Klaus Bachler had earlier run as high as fifth in the sister #56 entry.
Saintéloc Junior Team scored a home victory in race 1 by taking Silver Cup honours with its #26 Audi. This was a maiden class win for the Belgian duo of Gilles Magnus and Nicolas Baert, both of whom have switched from TCR competition this term. Magnus ran at the front early on, while Baert produced a strong finish to hold off Ulysse De Pauw (#53 AF Corse Ferrari) during the second stint.
The #53 Ferrari returned to the top of the Silver podium in race 2 thanks to another impressive display from De Pauw and Jean. The AF Corse entry took fifth overall, keeping the #32 Team WRT Audi at bay during the second stint and finishing well clear of its closest class rival.
Attempto Racing came home second in race 2 with its #99 Audi, while the #87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG completed the podium in both races. De Pauw and Jean enjoy a 24-point cushion at the top of the Silver standings.
In Pro-Am, Garage 59 bagged its first class win of the season in race 1. The British squad had already topped free practice and pre-qualifying, while Miguel Ramos posted the best lap of the weekend by a Bronze driver to secure class pole in Q1.
The British squad had looked set to continue its dominance when Dean MacDonald scored class pole with a fine fourth place overall in Q2, but the Scottish driver was penalised for blocking and dropped back three spots.
MacDonald’s race was over before it had started after contact from behind forced the #188 to make a precautionary stop. It was able to continue, however, with Miguel Ramos ultimately taking the chequered flag to score important championship points.
Following Garage 59’s penalty, the #111 JP Motorsport McLaren was elevated to Pro-Am pole and duly secured the race win. With the #188 out of contention this was relatively simple victory for the duo of Krupinski/Klien, who finished eight seconds clear of the #21 AF Corse Ferrari.
The JP Motorsport crew leads the Pro-Am standings after two Sprint Cup rounds. Krupinski/Klien have 57 points, while the #21 Ferrari pairing of Delacour/Sbirrazzuoli have 45.5 and Ramos/MacDonald have 45.
A 24-car field took the start of both races. This was one fewer than the initial entry due to the withdrawal of the #38 JOTA McLaren, which suffered heavy damage when Ollie Wilkinson crashed during Friday night’s pre-qualifying session. The British team worked until 23:00 before ultimately electing to return home and focus on next month’s Circuit Paul Ricard 1000kms.
Magny-Cours 2022 proved to be a remarkably clean event, with neither a safety car nor a full-course yellow period required. All 24 runners finished the opening contest, with 23 of them on the lead lap. There were two non-finishers in race 2: the #11 Tresor by Car Collection Audi was forced out with a technical fault, while the #52 AF Corse Ferrari retired following a clash with the #26 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi.
Three drivers pulled double duty by contesting the FFSA GT French Championship alongside their Sprint Cup efforts. Simon Gachet, Jim Pla and Thomas Drouet all drove for Akkodis ASP, the latter earning a dramatic late victory in Sunday’s race. Saintéloc Junior Team, like Akkodis ASP, were also present in both paddocks.
The weather was ideal throughout the event, despite a forecast of rain. Saturday was especially hot and sunny, with clear blue skies and temperatures rising to the high twenties. Rain did fall late on Sunday afternoon, though not to the extent that was initially predicted.
Mercedes-AMG has assumed a slender eight-point lead at the top of the global Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS standings. The German marque profited from a particularly strong second race at Magny-Cours and an excellent showing at Bathurst, which staged the second round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia Powered by AWS season. Ferrari sits third in the standings followed by McLaren, Porsche, Lamborghini, and BMW.
Circuit Paul Ricard is the next stop on the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS tour. The French track will stage its annual 1000km race on 3-4 June, while the Sprint Cup campaign resumes at Zandvoort on 17-19 June.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group