Updated: Sep 26, 2021
Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: SRO Media
Two races along the Adriatic Coast, one winning duo: Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor took a big step towards their second Sprint title in a row with a double win at Misano in their #32 WRT Audi. WRT shows excellent form towards the season's blue ribbon event, the Total 24 hours of Spa, with two wins and a win in the Silver Cup in race 2. Jonny Adam starred in the qualifying session for race 2 with his #188 Garage 59 Aston Martin, in which he secured the first ever pole position in history for a Pro-Am car.
The first signs that the Audi R8 would be the car to beat at the circuit named after the late Marco Simoncelli, were already showing on Friday with 4 Audi's in the top-5. In Pre Qualifying, half of the top-6 cars were from the Ingolstadt brand. So, it was no surprise the front row of the grid was locked out by Audi: pole for Weerts and Vanthoor in the #32 WRT, Roussel en Haase in the #25 Sainteloc alongside. Front-runners of the last races in Zandvoort, Costa and Siedler in the #163 Emil Frey Lambo were third, Silver Cup pole went, yet again, to Ulysse de Pauw and Pierre Alexandre Jean in the #107 CMR Bentley.
At the start of the race, Albert Costa immediately got past the Audi of Leo Roussel. The Frenchman didn't gave up without a fight and managed to counter in the mid-track hairpin. Costa then had the better exit and secured p2 indefinitely. Some great racing during the opening laps saw too much position changes to count, but it was interrupted by a FCY in lap 3 following spins from the #52 Ferrari from Louis Machiels and the #20 Mercedes of Valentin Pierburg.
Special attention has to go out to Adrien De Leener who fell victim to some of the "hot dogs" alongside the track in the opening lap and was catapulted into the air in his #54 Dinamic Porsche. He later turned out to have broken several vertebrae in the incident.
Racing resumed and in the run up to the stops, a great fight emerged for p3 between Roussel, Stolz (#6 TokSport Merc), Jim Pla (#87 AKKA Merc), Aurelien Panis (Audi) and Ollie Wilkinson in the Jota McLaren. Stolz and Panis proved the strongest and were 3rd and 4th when the pit window opened. Costa and Weerst were only a couple of seconds ahead.
The #163 Lamborghini which was handed by Costa to Norbert Siedler, didn't have the best stop and dropped to p7 after the stops. Dries Vanthoor, now in the #32 Audi led comfortably some 8 seconds ahead of Maro Engel in the #6 Mercedes. In p3 and 4 were the Sainteloc Audi's of Vervisch (#26) and Haase (#25), ahead of the Silver Cup leader Tereshenko in the #87 Mercedes. Ben Barnicoat, who took over the JOTA McLaren made his way up to 6th. Raffaele Marciello (#88 Merc) was under the rear wing of Siedler's #163 Lambo.
With 20 minutes to go, the next FCY was called to recover the #107 Bentley which was pushed in the gravel by the #159 Garage 59 Aston of Kjaergaard. Kjaergaard initially followed on his way but suffered damage which made him park the car in the barriers a couple of turns later.
Racing resumed with 15 minutes to go behind the safety car. Barnicoat was well awake and managed to take p5 from Tereshenko.
Some great fights broke out between teammates in the final stage of the race. First Chris Haase won the Sainteloc-battle with Vervisch to take up the last podium spot, then Marciello had to address all his racing skills to get past AKKA ASP teammate Tereshenko to secure p6.
The order in front did not change anymore and Vanthoor secured the victory ahead of Engel. Haase took the last podium step.
In the last lap, Ricardo Feller in the #14 Lamborghini came really close to taking the Silver Cup win from Tereshenko, but the Russian managed to defend and secured victory.
Biggest surprise of the weekend was the car on Pole Position for race 2: Jonny Adam, long time Aston factory driver, put the #188 on top of the field as the first ever Pro-Am car. Next to him was no Pro-car as well: Patrick Kujala in the #33 Rinaldi Ferrari, who transfered from Barwell Motorsport earlier this year, secured the Silver Cup pole and p2 on the grid. Vanthoor was 3rd with Jack Aitken in the #114 Lamborghini alongside him. Norbert Siedler in the #163 had a terrible qualifying, resulting in starting position 20.
After a clean start, the status quo was maintained for the first couple of laps. Adam, helped by the straight line speed of the Aston, led with Kujala on his tail. Vanthoor, Aitken, Marcielle and Kelvin van der Linde followed. The opening stages of the race were a lot less exciting than the day before, most eye-catching fight was between Maro Engel (#6 Mercedes) and Ben Barnicoat in the McLaren.
Just before the opening of the pit window, Dries Vanthoor started to reel in the Ferrari of Kujala and managed to take p2 in the hairpin. Adam was a second or four ahead, but was bound to drop down the field due to the minimum stop time for Pro-Am cars, while Pro and Silver Cup cars can pit as fast as possible.
After all cars made their stop, Weerts, who took over from Vanthoor led the field by over 6 seconds. The AKKA ASP team did a great job during the stops, as they managed to get the #88 up from 5th to 2nd after the stops. In 3rd and 4th were the WRT Audi's of Goethe and Frank Bird, Luca Stolz was 5th in the TokSport Mercedes. The Rinaldi Ferrari of Kujala and Hites dropped to p7 after the stops.
Stolz caught up to the rear of Bird in the remainder of the race and tried to overtake round the outside of the Audi. From the resulting contact Stolz suffered a right front puncture and was forced to make an extra stop.
The last phase of the race saw no change in positions in the top-4 anymore, and so Weerts and Vanthoor took their second win of the weekend. Boguslavskiy and Marciello took p2 in the AKKA ASP Mercedes, Goethe in the second WRT Audi took p3. WRT also secured the victory in the Silver Cup as Frank Bird brought the #31 home in 4th overall.
Valentin Pierburg in the #20 SPS Mercedes managed to close the gap to Pro-Am leader Alex West in the #188 Aston after the stop, but at the finish line, he was 0.001s short to take the win.