Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: SRO Media, Rick Kiewiet
This weekend the GT World Challenge heads for the dunes of Zandvoort for the penultimate round of the Sprint Cup. After the sunny and dry races this season, this time we're very likely in for some wet racing, as the weather predictions are far from favorable. Both one-hour races will be held on Saturday, in order to allow drivers to head for the Nürburgring after the second race and attend the 24 hours race there. Whether or not this is possible remains questionable, as the German government declared the Zandvoort region as a risk-zone.
Most eye-catching news in the run-up to this weekend was that despite the team's title aspirations, Haupt Racing Team will not participate in Zandvoort. As Germany declared the Province in which Zandvoort is situated a risk-zone, team members and drivers Luca Stolz and Maro Engel who attend the Zandvoort races, will likely have to go into self-quarantine upon their return to Germany. This made the team decide to withdraw their entry in order to guarantee their participation in the 24 hours of the Nürburgring.
If we look at last year's race, there is no clear favorite for the victory. Race wins and podium spots were nicely spread over Mercedes, Audi and Lamborghini. It can be questioned though if these results are still representative for the upcoming edition, as significant changes have been made to the track to make it suitable for the return of Formula 1. Two corners, among which the last corner leading up to the main straight, are now severely banked at an angel of 18°. That's almost twice as steep as Indianapolis, which is 9,2°.
Besides HRT's withdrawal, there is another change to the entry list due to the collision with the 24 hours of the Nürburgring. Timur Boguslavskiy will be accompanied by Felipe Fraga in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes, as Raffaele Marciello will be part of the driver crew of the #8 GetSpeed Mercedes at the Nürburgring. After their 2nd place in the second race at Magny Cours, the team will aim to continue its current form and aim for nothing less than the win.
The Emil Frey Lamborghini's have found their way upwards since Magny Cours as well. In France, the #14 of Mikael Grenier and Norbert Siedler was on the first row of the grid in both races and scored its first podium finish in race 1.
The car to beat however might very well be the Audi R8 yet again. Three out of five Sprint Cup races this season were won by the R8. With Pro entries from WRT, Sainteloc and Attempto, the Ingolstadt brand is well represented. Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor lead the championship standings in the #31 WRT Audi, while Simon Gachet and Steven Palette in the Silver Cup #26 Sainteloc Audi took the victory in the last race at Magny Cours.
No spectators are allowed at the races this weekend due to the current health crisis, as decided by SRO. But as usual, the races are streamed live on their youtube channel. Race 1 is Saturday at 9.00 local time, race 2 at 13.45.