Thursday, July 7, 2022

Overall podium and two class wins for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing at Le Castellet

Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing rewarded itself with an overall podium result and two class wins in the second season round of the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, the demanding Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km. After a faultless performance, Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP) and Raffaele Marciello (SUI) secured a deserved third place with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP. Al Faisal Al Zubair (OMA), Axcil Jefferies (ZIM) and Fabian Schiller (GER) finished in seventh place with the #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT car and won the high-class Silver category as a result. Classified second in this class, the #87 AKKODIS ASP Team GT3 rounded out the 1-2. The SPS automotive performance team was able to celebrate another class win, having taken over the lead in the PRO-AM category just before the end. 

  • #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP finishes third in Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km
  • #777 and #87 Mercedes-AMG GT3s make it a 1-2 in Silver Cup
  • Further class win by SPS automotive performance in the PRO-AM category
  • AKKODIS ASP Team wins PRO- and Silver class in Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series

Since 2015, the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km has already been a regular fixture on the GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup calendar. Following the successful season opener with a pair of podium results at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola, the seven Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams had high ambitions coming to the six-hour race at the French Rivièra. In total, eleven Mercedes-AMG GT3s took on the second season round of the prestigious endurance series.

The three-part qualifying on Saturday morning turned out into a huge challenge for the teams, not just because of the high temperatures in the south of France. As there were 54 cars spread out over the almost 5.8 kilometres long track in total, it was difficult to determine the right time for a clear lap. The best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 was the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP in fourth place.

Raffaele Marciello claims the lead in the first stint

Mercedes-AMG Performance Driver Raffaele Marciello did the opening part of the race in the #88 car and initially lost two positions prior to the first safety car intervention at the end of the opening lap. Subsequently, however, the Swiss advanced to become the fastest driver in the field, working his way up into P3 after not even 30 minutes completed. For the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed entry, the opening stint was less successful. Maro Engel (GER) had to park his Mercedes-AMG GT3 after being touched shortly into the race.

Meanwhile, Marciello continued his fantastic drive in an unimpeded way and headed into the pitlane after around one hour while in second place. There, the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP made a quick pit stop that enabled the #88 car to take the overall lead. In Silver Cup, things looked promising as well: both the #87 AKKODIS ASP Team and the #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT already were on course for the podium at this time.

Numerous punctures lead to regular yellow and safety car phases

Hard racing over the kerbstones as produced by many drivers led to numerous punctures and retirements. One of these led to a full-course yellow that all cars used for the second stop after around two hours. Marciello handed responsibility for the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Daniel Juncadella, who found himself faced with competitors closing up following another safety car intervention. The new situation led to Juncadella initially dropping back to second place after his next pit stop.

Because race control also identified a fuel stop that was too short in this situation, the team was handed a time penalty that cost the #88 entry another position, in spite of the fastest lap time the Spaniard posted at that time. Final driver Jules Gounon rejoined the race in third place.

Subsequently, action in the race, meanwhile running in total darkness, increasingly settled down. One hour before the end of the race, Gounon benefited from another puncture, this time affecting the second-placed car. However, the Frenchman could not hold on to the position he had gained just a few minutes before the finish. Eventually, the Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP scored another podium success in the still young season by finishing in third place after second position in the season-opening round at Imola, enabling the French Performance team to defend its second place in the overall standings.

Class wins in Silver Cup and the PRO-AM classification for Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing

The Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing Teams racked up further wins in the various classes. In Silver Cup, Al Faisal Al Zubair, Axcil Jefferies and Fabian Schiller claimed victory with the #777 Al Manar Racing by HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3. The #87 AKKODIS ASP Team GT3 with Thomas Drouet (FRA), Tommaso Mosca (ITA) und Casper Stevenson (GBR) finished the race in second place of this category and thus completed the 1-2.

For SPS automotive performance, the day also ended with a class success: Dominik Baumann, Martin Konrad (both AUT) and Valentin Pierburg (GER) again secured first place in the PRO-AM class with the #20 GT3 following their victory in the season opener at Imola. Only a few minutes prior to the end, final driver Baumann managed to move up into first place, further extending the margin in the championship lead.

The next GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup round will be held from 28th till 31st July: without any doubt, the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps are the highlight of the series’ calendar every year and are known as the world’s most demanding GT3 race.

A 1-2 for AKKODIS ASP Team in Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series

Like in every GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup event, the first championship points of the weekend were already awarded prior to the start of the actual race. In the one-hour second season round of the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, held at the virtual Circuit Paul Ricard simultaneously with the real-world event, AKKODIS ASP Team scored an outstanding 1-2. In Silver Cup, Tommaso Mosca raced for the #87 crew and made it a commanding lights-to-flag victory that brought him and his team five points. PRO driver Raffaele Marciello came home second overall with the #88 Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP entry, winning his class, which was also rewarded with five points.

Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “The high temperatures and really tough conditions required everything from our teams. Therefore, we can be even prouder with the outstanding overall result. Of course, we would have liked to secure second place or even the victory, but we can be very happy with the second podium result in the second Endurance Cup race. With the class wins in Silver Cup and PRO-AM, we have also proven our strong endurance performance once again. Therefore, we can head to Spa at the end of July full of anticipation and with huge confidence.”

Daniel Juncadella, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “Eventually, it was a good result. Normally, the track doesn’t particularly suit our car. I had never been on the podium here at Le Castellet before. Second place would have been even better, but keeping the opposition at bay was difficult. Now, at least we are in a good second place in the overall standings heading to Spa.”

Jules Gounon, Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP #88: “We are happy with the pace and with third place. Raffaele, Daniel and the entire team have done an outstanding job. Even though we were unable to keep second place, we still scored good points. Now, our full focus is on the 24-hour race at Spa.“

Fabian Schiller, Al Manar Racing by HRT #777: “We have won the Silver Cup and finished seventh overall. That is a good result for us. We had a good strategy and compared to Imola, the car was much better. My teammates laid a solid foundation and did a super job, so it was quite easy for me to bring the result home.”

Dominik Baumann, SPS automotive performance #20: “Of course, winning the class here at Le Castellet is extraordinary. We were third for a long time and then moved up into second. That the leader then still got a problem was unbelievable, really. Qualifying already was super from all of us. But this team achievement, this result in this race, in which I always retired so far, is simply mega.”

Result GT World Challenge Europe Endurance Cup, Circuit Paul Ricard*:

POS

overall

POS

class

Nr.

Car

Team                   

Drivers

1.

1.

PRO

71

Ferrari 488 GT3

Iron Lynx

Antonio Fuoco (ITA), Davide Rigon (ITA), Daniel Serra (BRA)

2.

2.

PRO

51

Ferrari 488 GT3

Iron Lynx

James Calado (GBR), Miguel Molina (ESP), Nicklas Nielsen (DEN)

3.

3.

PRO

88

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team AKKODIS ASP

Jules Gounon (FRA), Daniel Juncadella (ESP), Raffaele Marciello (SUI)

7.

1.

Silver

777

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Al Manar Racing by HRT

Al Faisal Al Zubair (OMA), Axcil Jefferies (ZIM), Fabian Schiller (GER)

8.

2.

Silver

87

Mercedes-AMG GT3

AKKODIS ASP Team

Thomas Drouet (FRA), Tommaso Mosca (ITA), Casper Stevenson (GBR)

16.

5.

Silver

4

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Haupt Racing Team

Jannes Fittje (GER), Jordan Love (AUS), Alain Valente (SUI)

24.

1.

PRO-AM

20

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SPS automotive performance

Dominik Baumann (AUT), Martin Konrad (AUT), Valentin Pierburg (GER)

28.

8.

Silver

3

Mercedes-AMG GT3

GetSpeed Performance

Sébastien Baud (FRA), Valdemar Eriksen (DNK), Jeffrey Kingsley (CAN)

35.

11.

GOLD

57

Mercedes-AMG GT3

WINWARD Racing

Lucas Auer (AUT), Lorenzo Ferrari (ITA), Jens Liebhauser (GER)

NC

NC

Silver

90

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Madpanda Motorsport

Franco Girolami (ARG), Ezequiel Pérez Companc (ARG), Sean Walkinshaw (GBR)

NC

NC

GOLD

93

Mercedes-AMG GT3

SKY – Tempesta Racing

Edward Cheever (ITA), Chris Froggatt (GBR), Jonathan Hui (HKG)

NC

NC

PRO

2

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed

Maro Engel (GER), Steijn Schothorst (NED), Luca Stolz (GER)

NC

NC

GOLD

5

Mercedes-AMG GT3

Haupt Racing Team

Hubert Haupt (GER), Arjun Maini (IND), Florian Scholze (GER)

* excerpt subject to confirmation by the organiser 

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