The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season shifts into its busiest period this weekend (17-19 June) with the third stop on the Sprint Cup calendar taking the short-format championship to Zandvoort.
First opened in 1949, the circuit retains much of its old-school charm, while a recent facelift has added extra excitement with banking at Arie Luyendijkbocht and Hugenholtzbocht. Its setting amid the rolling sand dunes of the North Sea coast also makes for unpredictable weather, with rain showers and brilliant sunshine often coming in quick succession.
If the Fanatec Sprint events at Brands Hatch and Magny-Cours are any indication, a highly competitive contest is in store at the Dutch venue. The championship battle has quickly developed into a two-horse race between Akkodis ASP (Mercedes-AMG) and Team WRT (Audi), with the former holding a slender advantage ahead of this weekend’s encounter.
The opening phase of the season has seen AF Corse duo Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean emerge as the class of the Silver Cup field in their Ferrari, while McLaren squad JP Motorsport has taken the early advantage in Pro-Am. But with the season not quite at half distance there is still everything to play for as the paddock makes its annual trip to Zandvoort.
Marciello/Boguslavskiy form makes Akkodis ASP the team to beat
The battle for the overall Fanatec Sprint crown has quickly become a duel between reigning champion Team WRT and its long-time rival Akkodis ASP. The latter tops the standings following victories at Brands Hatch and Magny-Cours for the #89 Mercedes-AMG crew of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy, who are back to full strength after a tough 2021. They are joined by the sister #88 car, which sees Jules Gounon return alongside Jim Pla.
The #32 Team WRT Audi has started well, though a fraught run to fifth in the second Magny-Cours contest leaves Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts 11.5 points adrift of the championship lead heading to Zandvoort. The series’ most successful driver pairing has not yet won at the Dutch track and will be determined to put that right this weekend. The sister #33 car showed excellent pace at Magny-Cours with Chris Mies and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer sharing the wheel, while Valentino Rossi will hope for more progress alongside Audi Sport stalwart Frédéric Vervisch in the #46.
Tresor by Car Collection bagged a maiden series pole and a first overall podium last time out courtesy of Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet. The #11 crew are past winners at Zandvoort and will be joined by a strong sister line-up of Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto. Saintéloc Junior Team scored its first podium of the season on home turf with the #25 line-up of Patric Niederhauser and Aurélien Panis, while Attempto Racing adds another Audi for Dennis Marschall and Pieter Schothorst.
Dinamic Motorsport haș not enjoyed an ideal start to the season, but the Porsche squad put points on the board at Magny-Cours with a 10th-place finish for the #54 line-up of Christian Engelhart and Adrian De Leener. They will once again be joined by the #56 duo of Klaus Bachler and Giorgio Roda as both Dinamic crews go in search of strong result at Zandvoort.
Finally, JP Motorsport will add a further car to the Pro field with regular Fanatec Endurance drivers Vince Abril and Dennis Lind teaming up at the wheel of the #112 McLaren. This complements the squad’s full-season Pro-Am entry and ensures that another potential winner is on the grid for this weekend’s event.
AF Corse and JP Motorsport target more success in Silver Cup and Pro-Am
With three wins and a runner-up finish from the opening quartet of races, AF Corse duo Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean have established themselves as the clear Silver Cup favourites. The #53 Ferrari crew sit third in the overall Fanatec Sprint standings after a superb start to the season and will feel confident about their chances at Zandvoort having finished on the overall podium during last season’s trip to The Netherlands.
Their closest Silver Cup challenge comes from Akkodis ASP and the #87 Mercedes-AMG duo of Thomas Drouet and Casper Stevenson. Though yet to clinch a class victory they have finished on the podium in all four races and are well placed to strike should De Pauw/Jean hit problems. In contrast the sister #86 Mercedes-AMG of Petru Umbrarescu and Igor Walilko is yet to score a top-three result and the pair will hope to set that right at Zandvoort.
The #99 Attempto Racing Audi of Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll has looked strong this term, bagging a pair of runner-up finishes and sitting third ahead of the trip to Zandvoort. The only squad to beat AF Corse thus far is Saintéloc Junior Team, which triumphed in the opening Magny-Cours contest thanks to the #26 Audi of Gilles Magnus and Nicolas Baert. There has been less joy for Team WRT, whose Silver Cup entry has been the pacesetter in Fanatec Endurance but is yet to match that performance in Sprint with its #30 crew of Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe.
Having made the switch to Mercedes-AMG equipment this term, Sky Tempesta Racing is still working to recapture its old form. Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III will hope that the mid-way point in the Fanatec Sprint campaign can bring about a strong result. Garage 59 also changed brand over the winter by returning to the McLaren fold and its Silver Cup line-up has made a solid start to the campaign, with a maiden class win now a realistic target for Ethan Simoni and Manuel Maldonado.
GSM Novamarine has an all-new line-up this weekend, though both drivers have considerable experience in Lamborghini machinery. The Monegasque squad will field 2019 Super Trofeo Europe champion Danny Kroes, who makes his series debut on home turf alongside occasional Fanatec Endurance racer Lucas Mauron.
As expected, the Pro-Am battle has been closely fought. With a pair of wins on the board, Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien (#111 JP Motorsport McLaren) have the early advantage. The #21 AF Corse Ferrari duo of Hugo Delacour and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli sit second in the standings, 11.5 shy of the leaders, with both line-ups having proven an instant success in their debut Fanatec Sprint campaigns.
Reigning class champion Miguel Ramos remains firmly in the hunt, too. He and Dean MacDonald bagged opening race honours at Magny-Cours and the Garage 59 McLaren duo are just half a point shy of Delacour/Sbirrazzuoli. The #52 AF Corse Ferrari line-up of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini have fallen 27 points behind the leaders after retiring from the second Magny-Cours contest, but this experienced crew is always capable of fighting for Pro-Am honours.
Familiar support series confirmed for busy Zandvoort meeting
The Zandvoort weekend will feature support action from a quartet of high-level categories, all of which have joined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS previously in 2022. The Porsche Carrera Cup France, Alpine Elf Europa Cup and Clio Cup Series were part of the programme at Magny-Cours, while Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine joins for a second successive event having been on the Circuit Paul Ricard support package.
The weekend will follow a standard Fanatec Sprint format, kicking off with practice and pre-qualifying on Friday. Qualifying sessions will run on Saturday and Sunday morning, setting the grids for one-hour races that take place at 14:00 on both days. Live coverage begins on Saturday and will be available across a variety of online platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel, with commentary in English, French, Italian and German.
The trip to Zandvoort kicks off a busy period for Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. Indeed, once the chequered flag has fallen on Sunday afternoon teams will make the familiar journey to Belgium for the official TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa test days (21-22 June). Before that, however, it is time for Sprint racing to return to centre stage.
Source. SRO Motorsports Group