In a gripping Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season finale that remained open until the end, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP has secured the Endurance Cup drivers’ and teams’ titles. At Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, fifth place for Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was enough to achieve the intended championship win. For the French team, this result also meant first place in the combined teams’ standings. The #20 SPS automotive performance entry was able to celebrate another title, having defended first place in the PRO-AM teams’ standings by virtue of a class win. Prior to the final round of the season, Marciello had already been confirmed as the drivers’ champion in the combined standings of Sprint and Endurance Cup.
- Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP wins teams’ and drivers’ titles in Endurance Cup
- SPS automotive performance secures PRO-AM class teams’ championship
- Thrilling season finales in Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series and GT4 European Series
With the season-ending round at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya that has become a tradition in the meantime, a thrilling and action-packed Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season came to an end this weekend. Simultaneously, the final events of the Fanatec GT Esports Pro Series and the GT4 European Series were part of the support package. Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing was still in contention in all these series, partly for multiple championship titles.
Prior to the weekend, it was already certain that Raffaele Marciello was beyond reach in the battle for the title of the best driver in the combined GT World Challenge Europe standings. However, as he, together with Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP and his teammates Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella was also still in contention for the Endurance Cup drivers’ championship as well as the combined teams’ championship, the freshly-crowned champion was still highly motivated.
Mercedes-AMG GT3 claims first and second place in pre-qualifying on Saturday
That the Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams were by no means taking it easy in the season finale, they already made clear during pre-qualifying on Saturday. First and second place by the #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the #888 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP entry were a successful dress rehearsal for the three-part qualifying on Sunday morning.
However, in excellent conditions around the 4.675 kilometres long circuit in the one-hour qualifying session, the eleven Mercedes-AMG GT3s weren’t able to build on their performance from the previous day. The best-placed GT3, the #88 started from eighth place on the grid for the three-hour race in the afternoon with the #2 of the other Performance Team, Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed, starting right behind it. The SPS automotive performance team having headed to Catalunya as the leaders in the PRO-AM standings, qualified third in its class.
Mercedes-AMG Performance Teams work up their way in the opening stages
Notwithstanding the 48 cars on track, the start in the afternoon went without any major incidents. Daniel Juncadella with the #88 car and Maro Engel (GER) with the #2 machine each made up two positions and were already up in sixth and seventh place respectively after two laps. Ian Loggie (GBR) defended third place in the PRO-AM class for SPS automotive performance.
As the main rival of the #88 car was able to maintain the lead, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP at least had to finish third in order to secure the teams’ and drivers’ titles in Endurance Cup. Prior to the first round of pit stops, the #88 and the #2 initially held their positions. Ian Loggie moved up one place in his class with the #20 car and was in second position at that time.
The subsequent driver changes only led to minimal position changes in the field. Jules Gounon took over the #88 car for the second stint in sixth place, Steijn Schothorst (NED) stepped into the seventh-placed #2 Mercedes-AMG GT3. The track lay-out only allowed for limited overtaking so that the drivers had to hope for mistakes by the opposition. Gounon, who had to deal with dense traffic after his stop, was rewarded for his patience around the halfway point and made up another position. Without anyone getting in the way, the Mercedes-AMG driver subsequently proved his speed and reduced the gap to the front-running group.
Nevertheless, the team was still 30 seconds in arrears corrected for pit stops at the time Raffaele Marciello got in for the final stint. The rivalling team meanwhile having lost its lead, however, fifth place was sufficient for the Endurance Cup drivers’ championship title. Marciello, particularly strong this year, however, didn’t want to rely on this constellation and among others posted the fastest lap time of the race.
A safety car intervention with 40 minutes remaining in the race didn’t have any effect on the final result anymore either. With fifth place, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP sealed the Endurance Cup teams’ title and at the same time also won the title in the combined Sprint and Endurance Cup standings. Gounon, Juncadella and Marciello were crowned as the drivers’ champions with a two-point margin.
Once again, the weekend was also successful in the PRO-AM class. Wirth yet another class victory on Sunday, their third from five races, Dominik Baumann (AUT), Ian Loggie (GBR) and Valentin Pierburg (GER) secured the teams’ championship title in the PRO-AM category for SPS automotive performance.
Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing with impressive season record in GT World Challenge Europe
The race in Barcelona turned out to be an appropriate finale of an action-packed season in GT World Challenge Europe. In total, 59 drivers were in action with the Mercedes-AMG customer sport teams in the five classes. The final record after the season’s ten events in Sprint and Endurance Cup is quite a decent one: four overall and ten class wins as well as 16 overall and 35 class podium results.
Now, the aim is to build on these achievements next season. The opening round of the Endurance Cup season will be held at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza on 23rd April, 2023 while the opening Sprint weekend has been scheduled at Brands Hatch on 13th and 14th May.
Daniel Juncadella secures title in Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series for AKKODIS ASP Team
On Saturday evening, Mercedes-AMG was already able to celebrate the first title win of the weekend. In the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series season finale, the Pro and Silver teams from GT World Challenge Europe competed once again. Racing the virtual #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP car, Daniel Juncadella ended up in second place of the PRO category in the one-hour session. As a result, the Spaniard secured the PRO championship titles in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series both for his team and for himself. In the Silver standings, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams ended up in second to fourth place.
NM Racing Team loses out on championship in a dramatic GT4 European Series finale
A dramatic race with numerous accidents concluded the 2022 GT4 European Series on Sunday. A major part of the race being run behind the safety car, title candidates Lluc Ibañez (ESP) and Enzo Joulié (FRA) hardly had any opportunities to make progress on track. Eventually, the NM Racing Team duo lost out on the championship title in the Silver category by only three points. The PRO-AM title, meanwhile, went to a Mercedes-AMG customer sports team. Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla (both FRA), together with the AKKODIS ASP Team, celebrated the teams’ and drivers’ title wins in this class.
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “This thrilling race was the ideal conclusion of the GT World Challenge Europe. The drivers’ and teams’ titles in Endurance Cup are the well-deserved reward for the consistently outstanding achievements by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP. Our congratulations go out to the entire team and the three drivers who have done an incredible job and have remained focused throughout. Congratulations to SPS automotive performance as well on the class win and the PRO-AM championship title.”
Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “It was an exciting weekend. Initially, we had some problems and with eighth place in qualifying we didn’t have the ideal grid position either. Fifth place was the best possible result for us and on top of that we were lucky that our rivals weren’t able to win. At the end of the day, we are the champions and I am very happy with that.”
Raffaele Marciello, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “I am very happy. Together with AKKODIS ASP, I have been trying to win this championship for many years. Now, we finally made it. As a closed formation, we secured both championship titles in the overall standings and in the Endurance Cup. That is fantastic.”
Jules Gounon, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “Unbelievable! Winning all these titles with this team and with Dani and Raffaele is great. We had a great season of which we can be very proud. I would like to thank Mercedes-AMG, AKKODIS ASP and my teammates for this unique year. Now, I am simply just happy.”
Dominik Baumann, SPS automotive performance #20: “Looking at the entire year, it was a really great experience. Today, our consistency again enabled us to win the race. The car was super to drive and everyone has done a perfect job. On track, we kept out of all the battles and then we were able to benefit from the safety car phase at the end as I still managed to overtake the leader.”