Text: Rick Kiewiet
What's there to win during a race weekend of the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup? Well, on Saturday morning there's a prize awarded to the fastest driver in Qualifying 1, which determines the starting grid for Race 1 on that same day. Sunday has the same schedule, with the second Qualifying session early morning, also in which there's a prize to be won, and Race 2 itself of course. This weekend in Misano, Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor in their #32 WRT Audi R8 won all of them. All. With one race weekend to go in the Sprint Cup, they now have an 11.5 point lead over Boguslavskiy and Marciello in the #89 AKKODIS ASP Mercedes, as they finished second in both races.
As is a bit of risk with the same winners and runners-up in two race, both races at Misano showed quite some similarities. Both starts were controlled by first Weerts, and Vanthoor on Sunday. At the pitstop windows in both races the #32 Audi enjoyed a pretty comfortable lead of about 6 to 7 seconds and in both races the #89 emerged to 2nd only afters the stops.
Both races were also interrupted by quite a lengthy safety car phase. Race 1 saw an early neutralisation after Eddie Cheever in the #93 Sky-Tempesta Mercedes tapped around Aurelien Panis in the #25 Sainteloc Audi. Hugo Delacour in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari couldn't avoid the Audi and drove right into the back. The neutralisation in race 2 was almost at the end of the race, when Lorenzo Patrese in the #12 Tresor by Car Collection Audi drove straight into the wall at the fastest part of the track after what looked like a mechanical failure of the car. Despite the safety car bringing the field back together again, a backmarker in between Weerts and Boguslavkiy prevented the lead of Weerts ever to come under pressure, as racing resumed with only one lap to go.
Valentino Rossi in the #46 WRT Audi had somewhat of a mixed weekend. On Saturday, damage to his left front wheel prevented him and Vervisch, with whom he shares the car, from finishing the race. Sunday though, he booked his best result in the GT World Challenge with a 5th place.