THE ROUNDUP WEEKEND // VALENCIA

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After 368 laps over 10 races at five venues, the 2021 Sprint Cup season ended last weekend at the Ricardo Tormo Valencia circuit.

The 4km track on the outskirts of town was a new addition to the schedule, making it impossible to know what to expect. It turned out to be a happy hunting ground for Mercedes-AMG riders Maro Engel and Luca Stolz taking full advantage to secure a pair of dominant wins.

With the overall titles decided in favor of Team WRT last time at Brands Hatch, the No.6 Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT was fighting for second place. Nonetheless, there were titles up for grabs in the Pro-Am and Silver Cup classes, both of which were contested on Sunday afternoon.

The event also had additional significance, with the second round of the weekend marking the 100th race of the Sprint Cup since the series launched in 2013. These are the stories and stats from the trip to Spain.

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Engel and Stolz have won three straight wins after their last triumph at Brands Hatch. This capped a superb 2021 Sprint Cup end to the season for Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT, who started their first effort with a Pro car that joined the series with a Silver Cup contender last season.

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Engel and Stolz concluded the season with 95 points, more than the Sprint Cup champions scored in 2017, 2019 and 2020. The final deficit of the title-winning team Team WRT was only 8.5 points, though. that this doesn’t reflect how good Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor were on the first four events.

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Sunday’s second triumph represented Mercedes-AMG’s 25th overall victory in the Sprint Cup, just behind Audi (44). It was the sixth victory for Stolz and Engel, who all came as teammates, while the Toksport WRT team claimed their fourth overall victory in the Sprint Cup.

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On the other end of the spectrum, Valencia was a rare weekend for the WRT team and its title-winning # 32 crew of Weerts and Vanthoor. Indeed, it was the first time in 10 Sprint Cup events as teammates that the Belgian duo did not register a single point. Speaking next, Weerts described Valencia as a “wildcard weekend” for the team.

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Evaluating the 2021 season, two-time Sprint Cup champion Vanthoor said: “With WRT and Audi we have put together a solid package. We have tried to maximize every race weekend and always score points. We have great people on the team – riders, engineers and mechanics – and everything has run very well which has been the key to our success, and it’s important to keep that up and try to improve. Our goal now is the Endurance title, and we have to do everything we can for Barcelona because they won it won’t be easy. “

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Although Valencia was a tough test for the WRT team, the Belgian team was able to win the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS teams title after Race 1. This follows previous triumphs in 2014, 2015 and 2020. WRT also won the Pit Stop. Title of the Challenge 2021 thanks to its # 32 team made up of Alexandre Riquier and Gil Botelho.

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Audi racers also enjoyed success in Valencia. Saintéloc Racing clinched a podium in race 1 thanks to Christopher Haase and Léo Roussel, the latter thus obtaining the best career result in the Sprint Cup. There was also a Silver Cup victory for Attempto Racing in the opening competition, proving the R8 can be competitive on the track.

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After securing their first podium together last time at Brands Hatch, Jules Gounon and Petru Umbrarescu ended the season on a high note by finishing second in the second round. After a slow start to the campaign, the # 89 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG crew have made significant progress in recent events.

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Valencia turned out to be another bittersweet weekend for JOTA. The McLaren team clinched pole for the opening race and were on their way to a podium when Alex Fontana tipped Ollie Wilkinson into a costly spin in the finals. The team rallied in Race 2, dropping from 11th place on the grid to tie their best result of the season in P4.

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Dinamic Motorsport returned to Sprint Cup action with their # 54 Porsche after injury to Adrien De Leener forced the team to skip Brands Hatch. The comeback was successful and saw Christian Engelhart in great shape, putting his Porsche P5 on the grid for race two. The German raced into the lead pack and passed the baton to De Leener, who brought the No.54 machine home with a fifth best season.

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After an extremely difficult campaign, the # 108 CMR Bentley crew of Stéphane Richelmi and Nelson Panciatici finally won their first Sprint Cup points of the season with a seventh place in Race 1. Unfortunately, their luck turned in Race 2 when Vanthoor’s contact finished his challenge in the first round.

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Emil Frey Racing sealed the Silver Cup title, while Alex Fontana took the drivers’ crown, with a fourth place in Race 2. After an exceptional start to the season, the team suffered several setbacks during recent events, most notably Fontana’s collision with Wilkinson in the opening contest. Nonetheless, the Swiss team led at every event with their Lamborghini # 14.

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Fontana said afterwards: “It was a bit complicated at the end! We lost a few points, but we are here now because of what we have achieved throughout the season. Even though we have committed some points. mistakes, we probably made fewer mistakes than everyone else. “

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Although crowned the only champion, Fontana was quick to congratulate his co-drivers for helping to win the 2021 crown. Ricardo Feller shared the # 14 Lamborghini in four events, taking two category wins and a sensational overall triumph at Zandvoort , while Arthur Rougier was on board at Magny-Cours and helped Fontana to victory in Race 1.

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Attempto Racing claimed their first victory of the season in the opening competition. Dennis Marschall and Alex Aka finished in a fantastic fourth place overall, the best result for the Attempto team this year. Marschall was particularly impressive in the first 30 minutes, staying in the lead and overtaking the # 88 Mercedes-AMG at the end of the stint.

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AKKA ASP closed the season with a third Silver Cup victory for Jim Pla and Konstantin Tereschenko, as much as champion Fontana. Speed ​​hasn’t been an issue for the # 87 Mercedes-AMG crew this quarter, with consistency proving to be the difference between a title push and a third place in the standings.

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Barwell Motorsport had many reasons to celebrate in Valencia. Second place in Race 1 and third in Round 2 were more than enough to seal the British team’s Pro-Am title, while the # 77 Lamborghini duo of Miguel Ramos and Henrique Chaves took the crown of the pilots. Additionally, Barwell also won the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Pro-Am Team Championship with one round to lose.

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In addition to the title, Ramos also celebrated his 50th birthday on Sunday. “It’s a special day to be here to play the sport that I love since I was young and to win the championship,” said the Portuguese driver afterwards. “I am very grateful. It has been a great season and I have to thank Henrique and our team.”

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The opening race saw AF Corse win with their Ferrari n ° 52. The battle between Chaves and Andrea Bertolini was one of the highlights of the opening competition, with the Italian drawing on his vast experience to keep the Lamborghini driver at bay. Bertolini and his co-driver Louis Machiels finally took third place in the standings.

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Second place went to SPS Automotive Performance, who claimed their second victory of the campaign by triumphing in Race 2. Dominik Baumann and Valentin Pierburg’s pair swept through qualifying in Valencia and ultimately finished just 8.5 points by Ramos and Chaves.

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2017 Sprint Cup champion Robin Frijns returned to the series after a three-year hiatus, alongside Benji Goethe in Audi # 30 Team WRT. The Dutchman is also expected to back the team’s Endurance Cup title bid in next month’s final at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, joining Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts in entry # 32.

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Valencia became the 20th circuit to host a Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS event since the series launched in 2011. It is the third Spanish circuit after Barcelona and Navarre and only the third counterclockwise circuit. ‘a watch after the Moscow Raceway and Imola.

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Until last weekend, the most recent SRO event on the Spanish site was in 2004 when the FIA ​​GT Championship hosted a 500km race. The 2021 Pro-Am champion, Miguel Ramos, is the only rider to have participated in both. Other notables on the 2004 grid were sports car legend Stéphane Ortelli; Lillian Bryner, who won the 24 Hours of Spa TotalEnergies a few months later; and future Mercedes boss in Formula 1 Toto Wolff.

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While the qualifying sessions and the races remained dry, Valencia were hit by severe thunderstorms on Saturday evening. Lightning lit up the sky above the Spanish track and torrential rains flooded the venue, although on Sunday morning the sun was shining again. It was as if nothing had happened.

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The 2021 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season will end October 8-10 with a three-hour Endurance Cup race at the Barcelona-Catalunya circuit. Titles are still up for grabs in each category, with the battle for the overall championship featuring four teams representing four different manufacturers.

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