Text & images: Rick Kiewiet
It's been almost 5 weeks since the TotalEnergies 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and this weekend the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe kicks off its second half of the season with an Endurance Cup event at Hockenheim.
After three races in this season's Endurance Cup (Imola, Paul Ricard and Spa), the winners of the 24 hours of Spa, Jules Gounon, Dani Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello also lead the championship with 79 points. Not only did they win the season's blue ribbon event, they also finished 2nd in Imola and 3rd at Paul Ricard.
The #88-crew will mostly keep its eyes pinned at the #71 Iron Lynx Ferrari. if they manage to score 15 points more than Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco, who are 11 points behind with 68, they will be the 2022 Endurance Cup champions.
After a below par result in Imola for the #71 (8th), they struck back at Paul Ricard with pole position and a race win. In Spa they scored good points at the 6 and 12 hour mark and a p3 at the finish. For Hockenheim, Daniel Serra will be replaced by Alessio Rovera who raced with the team before and is currently active in ELMS and WEC in the AF Corse LMP2.
Hockenheim is new on the calendar of the GT World Challenge so whether the track suits the Mercedes or Ferrari better is yet unknown. If the DTM gives any indication of chances for either manufacturer the odds seem even. The 2021 races at the Hockenheimring saw both Mercedes' and Ferrari's on the podium, so it could be an interesting battle between the two contenders.
Theoretically, four other crews may still dream of the 2022 Endurance crown. But Stolz and Schothorst (#2 GetSpeed Mercedes), Calado/Molina/Nielsen (#51 Iron Lynx Ferrari), Harper/Verhagen/Hesse (#50 ROWE BMW) and Farfus/Catsburg/Yelloly are all 40+ points behind the leaders with only two races left this season (after Hockenheim there's only Barcelona).
Surprisingly, no WRT Audi is among the title contenders in the Endurance Cup. Spearhead of the team, the #32 with Weerts/Vanthoor/van der Linde, even won the opening race at Imola, but picked up exactly 0 points in the other two races at Paul Ricard and Spa with DNFs in both races.
In the Silver Cup however, the odds are very much in favor of WRT. After wins for the #30 of Goethe/Neubauer/Simmenauer in both the opening race and the 24 hours of Spa, and a pole position and 4th place at Paul Ricard, they defend a 34 points lead in the two remaining races. This means closest contenders Schöll/Aka/Zug in the #99 Attempto Audi wil have to score 8 points more than the #30 to prevent them from claiming the title at Hockenheim. If they fail, only the #777 Al Manar Mercedes of Jefferies/Al Zubair/Schiller can keep the title out of their hands, but they'll have to score 14 points more than the #30.
Both qualifying and the race will be held on Sunday the 4th, starting 8:45 and 14:00 BST respectively. As with all race of the GT World Challenge, you can follow all action live on SRO's youtube channel, found here.