Fierce title showdown in prospect @ Sprint Cup finale Fanatec GT Europe campaign

Fierce title showdown  in prospect @ Sprint Cup finale Fanatec GT Europe campaign

Image: Marciello and Boguslavskiy return to winning ways as Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG takes Race 2 victory at Hockenheim•

Sprint Cup titles on the line in three classes, overall Gold Cup crown also to be settled
• Field of 30 cars ready to contest final two races of 2023
• Trip to the Netherlands concludes 10-round Fanatec GT Europe season


The curtain will fall on the 2023 Fanatec GT Europe season next weekend (13-15 October) when the Sprint Cup titles are decided at Zandvoort.


The 4.3km circuit on the North Sea coast will play host to a 30-car field comprising Pro, Gold and Silver Cup entries. All three class titles are up for grabs in the Sprint Cup, while the combined Fanatec GT Europe crown is also on the line in the Gold Cup.


It marks the conclusion of the 10-round championship, the Endurance Cup campaign having come to a close at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 1 October. As such it is the final chance to see Europe's premier GT3 series in action before the winter break.
 

Three-way showdown in prospect for overall Sprint Cup title
This year's battle for the overall Sprint Cup crown has been the most competitive in some time, with three crews heading into the finale with a legitimate shot at the title and two more holding an outside chance. 


Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy (#88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG) lead the way with 83 points having taken a victory from all four events thus far. Should they wrap up the Sprint championship, the duo will complete a clean sweep of top-tier titles in 2023.


But they will not have it easy. Ricardo Feller and Mattia Drudi (#40 Tresor Orange1 Audi) are just 7.5 points adrift and have outscored the Akkodis ASP crew at each of the previous two weekends. There's added hunger, too, as both drivers are searching for a maiden overall Fanatec GT Europe title. 


A further seven points back, Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts (#32 Team WRT BMW) are looking to make it four Sprint crowns in a row. It remains a tall order, but it would be foolish to dismiss such a successful pairing, particularly as they now have a maiden win with BMW machinery under their belts. 


Two more crews could theoretically take the title. Christopher Haase and Lucas Légeret (#11 Comtoyou Racing Audi) have score points in every race this season and are 33 off top spot heading into the finale. Albert Costa and Thierry Vermeulen (#69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari) took a pair of podiums at Valencia, though with a deficit of 34.5 points and 35 to play for they are the definition of a long shot in this title battle. 


The teams' championship is a three-horse race and considerably closer than the drivers' contest. Akkodis ASP leads with 89.5 points, but Team WRT is within three and Tresor Attempto Racing is just 8.5 points back. There is a very real chance that the titles will be split. 


A further 11 Pro crews will contest the finale. Team WRT will have additional firepower as it chases the teams' crown thanks to the #46 of Rossi/Martin and the #31 of Neubauer/Simmenauer. There will be a trio of extra Audi entries, with Saintéloc Junior Team fielding its #25 for Niederhauser/Bastard and the #27 for Mies/Demoustier, while Comtoyou Racing has Vervisch/Baert in its #12 machine.


A second Emil Frey Racing effort sees Altoè/Lappalainen share the #14 Ferrari, while Dinamic GT has momentum on its side following a good showing at Valencia for the #54 Porsche of Engelhart/De Leener. There is an additional Pro class Porsche as Bronze Cup regular CLRT enters its #44 machine for Ayhancan Güven and Laurin Heinrich.


VSR retains the all-star pairing of Caldarelli/Mapelli in its #60 Lamborghini, while a pair of McLaren entries will run in the hands of Garage 59 and JP Motorsport. The former with its pairing of Goethe/Kjærgaard earned a top-10 finish last time out, while the latter duo of Klien/MacDonald has a final opportunity to put points on the board at Zandvoort. 


Close championship battles in store for Gold Cup and Silver Cup contenders
Remarkably, all five full-season Gold Cup crews can still snatch the title at Zandvoort. Aurélien Panis and Alberto di Folco (#9 Boutsen VDS Audi) lead the standings on 90 points having scored three wins and three further podiums. Their chief rivals are Niklas Krütten and Calan Williams (#30 Team WRT BMW), who are six points adrift heading into the finale. 


Gilles Magnus and Finlay Hutchison (#21 Comtoyou Racing Audi) have 75.5 points on the board and bagged their maiden win last time out at Valencia, so momentum is on their side. The very same thing can be said of Simon Gachet and Paul Evrard (#26 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi) who are just one point further back. 


The final title hopefuls are Adam Eteki and Cesar Gazeau (#10 Boutsen VDS Audi) who have score 72 points and are the only Gold Cup crew yet to earn a class win. The class is bolstered by a further entry as Bronze Cup squad JP Motorsport adds its #112 McLaren for Patryk Krupinski and Norbert Siedler.


The Silver Cup is impossible to call. Lorenzo Patrese and Alex Aka (#99 Tresor Attempto Racing Audi) lead the way on 102 points after sweeping the Valencia weekend, but their advantage is just one point over season-long rival Jordan Love (#77 HRT Mercedes-AMG). The Australian will be rejoined at the finale by Frank Bird, who makes a welcome return after stepping down for Hockenheim and Valencia.


Though they are yet to win a race, a consistent campaign from Ezequiel Perez Companc and Jesse Salmenautio (#90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG) ensures that they retain a mathematical chance at taking the title. However, with a 31.5-point deficit and 35 to score, it is a tall order. 


Five more crews will compete for Silver Cup honours. Nova Race will field the #28 Honda for Moncini/Guidetti and the sister #68 for Zanotti/Di Fabio. VSR slims down to a single Lamborghini for Paverud/Paul, while the #71 AF Corse Ferrari will run with Hudspeth/Marinangeli. GSM AB1 completes the field with a to-be-confirmed duo sharing its #18 Lamborghini.


TIMETABLE

FRIDAY 13 OCTOBER

10:25–11:45 – Free Practice
15:20–16:40 – Pre-Qualifying

SATURDAY 14 OCTOBER

09:35-09:55 – Qualifying 1 LIVE
14:00-15:00 – Race 1 LIVE

SATURDAY 15 OCTOBER

09:30-09:50 – Qualifying 2 LIVE
14:00-15:00 – Race 2 LIVE


SUPPORT SERIES

• Formula Regional European Championship by Alpine (2x 30 minutes + 1 lap races)

• GB3 Championship (2x 20-minutes races & 1x 25-minute race)

• Clio Cup Series (2x 25 minutes + 1 lap races)
 


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