Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: SRO Media
Luca Stolz and Maro Engel went on winning after their win in race 2 at Brands Hatch. They even managed to make it three in a row, taking the checkered flag in both races at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo just outside Valencia. For the second race of the day, the duo started from Pole and took a start-to-finish win almost unchallenged.
The foundation for TokSports dominance last weekend was laid in qualifying. In Q1, Ben Barnicoat in the #38 JOTA McLaren 720S was able to squeeze out a lap an inch quicker than Luca Stolz in the #6 TokSport Mercedes AMG. A great result for the British JOTA crew, especially after Wilkinson's big crash last time out in Brands Hatch. Four cars out of the top-6 were AMG's, with the other TokSport Mercedes of Tunjo and Puhakka in p3, the #88 AKKA ASP of Boguslavskiy and Marciello in p5 and the #90 MadPanda Motorsport of Perez Companc and Breukers in p6. The Mercedes' were split by the #99 Attempto Audi of Marschall and Aka. Newly crowned champions Weerts and Vanthoor started p8. Nice side note was the return of Adrien De Leener in the #54 Dinamic Porsche, after his sustained back injury at Misano back in July.
In the session that determined the starting positions for race 2, Stolz' teammate Engel improved one more spot and claimed pole for race 2. This time, Mercedes proved even stronger, locking out the first four positions on the grid. First non-AMG was the #54 Dinamic Porsche of De Leener and Engelhart.
Barnicoat maintained the lead right after the start, followed closely by Stolz and Boguslavskiy. The first part of the race saw two safety cars, one following the lap 1 incident that took out the #188 Garage 59 Aston of Jonny Adam and Alex West, postponing the decision in the Pro-Am championship until the last race, and the second one following the stranding of the CMR Bentley after being taken out by Charles Weerts in the #32 Audi.
In the run up to the pit stops, Stolz managed to keep up with Barnicoat. The #6 Mercedes then made an early stop during the pitstop window. The JOTA crew waited until the end of the window. TokSport turned out to have changed the tires and switched Stolz for Engel 3,5 seconds quicker compared to the JOTA crew, after which some quick laps from Engel did the rest and secured the lead.
After losing the lead, Wilkinson in the McLaren was taken out by Alex Fontana in the #14 Emil Frey Lamborghini and did not finish. Fontana was dealt a drive-through penalty that meant he would not claim the Silver Cup title in this race.
Behind Engel, who built a comfortable gap of almost 9 seconds towards p2, Chris Haase laid claim on the seconds podium step in the #25 Sainteloc Audi, Marciello finished 3rd in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes.
In Pro-Am, Hugo Chaves and Miguel Ramos in the #77 Barwell Lamborghini just missed out on the win, as they couldn't get past the #52 Ferrari of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini. However, their 15.5 points lead over Pierburg and Bauman in the #20 SPS Automotive Mercedes meant they only had to finish race 2 to secure the Pro-Am title.
The 100th Sprint Cup race saw again a big incident in lap 1 of the race, where Weerts' move led to another early Safety Car. In front, Engel held on to the lead ahead Jules Gounon in the #89 AKKA ASP Mercedes.
TokSport opted for the same pit stop strategy as in race 1, bringing Engel in early during the window. The AKKA ASP crew decided to do the exact opposite, making a late stop, with Gounon delivering a couple of quick laps in free air. Their stop was quick, three tenths quicker even than TokSports' stop, but they were still an inch too late to grab the lead.
In the remainder of the race, like earlier on the day, the #6 Mercedes managed to built a comfortable lead now in the hands of Luca Stolz. Behind, Siedler in the #163 Emil Frey Lamborghini managed to catch up to Umbrarescu who'd taken over control of the #89 Mercedes, but did not find a way passed the Romanian and had to settle for p3 at the finish.
Further down the field, the Silver Cup title was secured by Alex Fontana and Ricardo Feller in the #14 Emil Frey Lamborghini with a decent points finish. Ramos and Chaves also managed to finish the race, crowning themselves to 2021 Sprint Cup Pro-Am champions.
The GT World Challenge Europe will conclude its season in two weeks, 8-10 October, with the 3 hours of Barcelona at the Circuit de Catalunya in Spain.