In what can only be called a masterclass, ROWE racing secured a flawless 1-2 victory at the 3 hour race at Monza. At the Temple of Speed, the winning #98 only had to give up the lead shortly during the second pitstop window, but for the rest of the race, Philip Eng, Marco Wittmann and British driver Nick Yelloly were firmly in the lead. They finished the race well over 13 seconds ahead of the sister car, the #998, with drivers Max Hesse, Neil Verhagen and Dan Harper. The final spot on the podium was for the #63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini of Mirko Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper, who finished an inch ahead of the #25 Sainteloc Junior Audi of Chris Mies, Patric Niederhauser and Simon Gachet.
BMW's dominance started of in the shortened qualifying sessions, of which the third had to be cancelled due to a power outage at the Monza track. After Q1 and Q2, no less than 4 (!) BMW's topped the chart, despite Henrique Chaves' spectacular fastest time in Q1 in the Bronze cup #188 Garage 59 McLaren. The #98 was on pole, joined on the first row by the #46 WRT BMW of Augusto Farfus, Maxime Martin and Valentino Rossi. The #32 WRT BMW of Vanthoor, Weerts and Van der Linde started 3rd, the #998 4th. Best of the rest was the #25 Saintéloc Audi, followed by the #63 Iron Lynx Lambo. The #188 McLaren still started 7th, ahead of the #6 K-Pax Lambo, the #777 AlManar Mercedes and the #54 Dinamic Porsche which completed the top-10.
A bit of a disappointing qualification for the new Ferrari 296, with the #71 on p18 and the #51 on p23.
As a result of the 2 front rows' lock out, the 10kg weight break the M4 was given ahead of the weekend was cancelled after qualifying.
At the start, Maro Engel in the #777 AlManar Mercedes catapulted himself up to third, exactly in the middle of the four BMW's. Mayhem in the back between the #38 Ferrari of Samantha Tan and the #3 GetSpeed Mercedes immediately sparked the first SC-phase. As Safety cars breed safety cars, two laps after the restart we saw another interruption, after which the race really got underway.
We can be rather short about it, the #98 was never under real pressure and secured the win quite comfortably. Especially as the competition fell victim to either technical issues or flat tires. First, the #46 WRT BMW in the hands of Rossi, who set the fastest lap of the stint, went off, lost 12 positions and later retired after a puncture. Next, the #777 Mercedes that in the hands of Maro Engel climbed up as high as second, and the other Mercedes ace, the #88 Akkodis ASP of Gounon, Marciello and Boguslavskiy were forced to retire half-way through the race after contacts. Next, the #6 K-Pax Lambo that ran steadily in the top-5 also encountered issues at the start of the final stint.
Finally, the #32 WRT BMW was forced to pit half an hour before the finish due to a left front puncture, dropping the car to 6th. This gave p2 to the #998 and the final podium spot to Bortolotti in the #63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini. Despite a change from the Ferrari 488 to the Lamborghini Huracan, following the partnership of the Italian team with the Lamborghini Hypercar program, Iron Lynx seems to remain a front-runner in the series.
Newcomer ComToYou racing had a great series debut with their Audi R8s winning both the Gold (Hofer, Baert and Soulet) and Silver Cup (Hezemans, Dejonghe and Hutchinson) categories. British team Barwell Motorsport claimed the victory in Pro-Am with a late pass from Dennis Lind in the final minutes of the race.
The next race in the GT World Challenge will take place on British soil as the Sprint Cup kicks off in the weekend of 13 and 14 May at Brands Hatch.