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27 CAR FIELD PRIMED FOR CRUCIAL GT WORLD CHALLENGE EUROPE SPRINT CONTEST AT MISANO

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS makes its annual trip to the Adriatic coast next weekend when the biggest Sprint Cup grid of the season will tackle a pair of 60-minute races at Misano.

A 27-car field has been confirmed for the 1–3 July event, which has been ever-present on the Fanatec Sprint calendar since 2015 and this year represents the penultimate round of the short-format championship. As such the stakes are increasingly high, while the presence of local superstar Valentino Rossi should ensure an especially busy weekend.

It comes just two weeks after the most recent Fanatec Sprint contest at Zandvoort where Team WRT (Audi) and Akkodis ASP (Mercedes-AMG) continued to trade blows in their duel for the overall title. AF Corse (Ferrari) appears increasingly secure at the top of the Silver Cup standings, while the Italian squad has also seized the advantage in the race for the Pro-Am title. While titles may not be decided at Misano, it could prove crucial to the outcome of the 2022 season. 

Still nothing to choose between Team WRT and Akkodis ASP 

The battle for the overall Fanatec Sprint crown has been one of the most competitive in years, with Team WRT and Akkodis ASP locked in an ultra-close battle for supremacy. WRT duo Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (#32 Audi) snatched the advantage by winning the opening race at Zandvoort, but Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy (#89 Mercedes-AMG) struck back for Akkodis ASP by taking the second outing and trail by just half a point. 

Who will emerge on top at Misano? There’s a case to be made for both crews. Weerts/Vanthoor have a superb record at the Italian track, but Marciello’s qualifying form this year has been unmatched while Boguslavskiy has made clear progress with his race craft. This one is too close to call. 

Aside from the championship battle, the major talking point ahead of the weekend is Valentino Rossi (#46 Team WRT Audi). Misano is very much home for the Italian and was the scene of three hugely popular MotoGP victories. It holds deeper significance for Rossi, as its full name – Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli – honours his late friend and colleague. After an especially tough weekend at Zandvoort, this would be the ideal place for The Doctor and teammate Frédéric Vervisch to bounce back. 

Jim Pla sits third in the overall Fanatec Sprint standings ahead of the Misano event. Having secured podium finishes at all three rounds, a maiden series win must be the next objective for the #88 Akkodis ASP driver and teammate Jules Gounon. Their race pace has never been in question, so a strong qualifying performance will be crucial to the Mercedes-AMG crew’s chances.

The Pro field has an additional entrant at Misano courtesy of Imperiale Racing, which make its first Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS start since contesting an Endurance round at Imola in 2020. Both of its drivers are Lamborghini experts: Albert Costa is among the brand’s leading factory representatives, while Alberto di Folco pilots a Huracán for Imperiale Racing in the Italian GT Championship.  

JP Motorsport made its first Pro appearance of the campaign last time out at Zandvoort with Vince Abril and Dennis Lind sharing the #112 McLaren. They enjoyed a strong run to fifth in race 2 and will aim to bring more experience to this young team at Misano. Dinamic Motorsport tackles its home race with a familiar two-car line-up. The #54 Porsche of Christian Engelhart and Adrian De Leener will hope for more of the same after a sixth-place finish at Zandvoort, while the sister #56 sees Giorgio Roda and Klaus Bachler hunting a first points-paying finish of the season. 

Four more Audi squads complete the Pro field. Tresor by Car Collection heads into its home event with the all-Italian pairing of Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto in the #12 machine, while Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet will target another podium in the #11 entry. Attempto Racing scored a top-three finish last time out thanks to the #66 of Dennis Marschall and Pieter Schothorst, while  Saintéloc Junior Team (#25, Patric Niederhauser & Aurélien Panis) and Team WRT (#33, Chris Mies & Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer) should also be among the fight at the front of the pack.

AF Corse duo on the cusp of Silver Cup title, everything to play for in Pro-Am

The Silver Cup title could be settled at Misano. Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean enjoyed another fine weekend at Zandvoort, winning the opening contest before taking second spot in race 2. With four victories from a possible six the #53 AF Corse Ferrari duo enjoy a commanding 29.5-point lead, making it entirely possible that they will wrap up the championship with a round to spare. 

Two crews retain a realistic hope of stopping them. Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll (#99 Attempto Racing Audi) can count on momentum after sealing race 2 honours at Zandvoort, while Thomas Drouet and Casper Stevenson (#87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG) have five podiums from six races, albeit without a win. Both crews know that victory at Misano is essential if the AF Corse title party is to be postponed. 

Misano is a particularly strong circuit for Audi, so its representatives should be a major factor in the battle for Silver Cup honours. Along with the title chasing Attempto crew, Team WRT (#30, Thomas Neubauer & Benji Goethe) and Saintéloc Junior Team (#26, Gilles Magnus & Nicolas Baert) also have realistic hopes of fighting for victory. 

The 2022 season has been a baptism of fire for Lamborghini squad GSM Novamarine. The Monegasque outfit will tackle the marque’s home event with Danny Kroes, who made his series debut last time out at Zandvoort, and newcomer Daan Pijl. Building further experience will be the aim of the game for the #159 Garage 59 McLaren of Manuel Maldonado and Ethan Simioni. Both have shown flashes of speed this term, though have also encountered the hurdles that face all rookie drivers.

A pair of Mercedes-AMG crews complete the Silver class. The #86 Akkodis ASP of Petru Umbrarescu and Igor Walilko showed improved pace at Zandvoort, qualifying well but ultimately slipping from the podium places. Sky Tempesta Racing also showed signs of improvement at the Dutch track, but Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III ultimately endured another frustrating weekend and will continue to chase a breakthrough at Misano. 

The Zandvoort meeting saw the Pro-Am championship advantage swing towards AF Corse. Cedric Sbirrazzuoli won the opening contest alongside Stefano Costantini, the latter subbing for an unwell Hugo Delacour. Sbirrazzuoli now occupies top spot in the drivers’ standings and will have Delacour back alongside him for the trip to Misano. 

The #111 JP Motorsport McLaren of Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien was arguably the fastest Pro-Am runner at Zandvoort, but retirement in race 2 cost the squad a potential win. Klien will miss the Misano weekend, with the equally experienced Norbert Siedler slotting in alongside Krupinski. Fellow McLaren outfit Garage 59 took race 2 honours at Zandvoort, a result that puts Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald firmly back in the hunt for the class title. 

Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini (#52 AF Corse Ferrari) also remain in contention following a pair of runner-up finishes, though securing a win on home soil is crucial if the Italian squad is to compete for the Fanatec Sprint championship. Finally, LP Racing adds a fifth Pro-Am contender and completes the Misano grid. The Italian squad, which also runs cars in the Fanatec GT2 European Series, will make its series debut with a Lamborghini for Mattia Di Giusto and Jonathan Cecotto. 

Packed Misano meeting promises more than eight hours of racing action

The upcoming weekend features a busy schedule with no shortage of action on the 4.2km circuit. Lamborghini Super Trofeo will make its annual trip home to contest the third round of its 2022 championship, while the ATCC touring car series once again features as a one-off for the Misano meeting. The Fanatec GT2 European Series and GT4 European Series also join Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS on the programme, marking the second and final time this season that all three share the same weekend. 

The event follows a standard Fanatec Sprint format, kicking off with practice and pre-qualifying on Friday. The opening qualifying session takes place on Saturday morning and is followed by race 1 in the afternoon, while this format is repeated on Sunday. From Saturday onwards, every second of the action will be broadcast live on a variety of online platforms, including the GT World YouTube channel, in English, German, French and Italian. 

The trip to Misano comes less than four weeks before the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, with track action in the Ardennes scheduled to begin on Tuesday 26 July. Before full attention can be turned to the biggest event in GT3 racing, there is plenty of action to look forward to as the Fanatec Sprint campaign moves into its deciding stages. 

Source. SRO Motorsports Group

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