The season-closing Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup meeting launched today (Friday) with four hours of official testing at Circuit Ricardo Tormo Valencia.
The optional pre-event test featured the full contingent of 27 cars that will compete this weekend, with all taking the opportunity to gather data at an unfamiliar venue. Conditions were not ideal, however, with light rain falling during the latter part of the afternoon. With sunshine forecast for the weekend, this prompted several squads to restrict their running between 16:00 and 17:00.
It also meant that the majority of the fast laps were logged during the opening two hours. AKKA ASP led the way with its #88 Mercedes-AMG thanks to a 1m31.931s lap from Raffaele Marciello. The Italian driver is seeking to avoid his first Sprint Cup season without a win since 2017 and made the ideal start to the closing weekend.
The sister #89 Mercedes-AMG made it an AKKA ASP sweep of the top-two thanks to a late 1m32.227s lap by Jules Gounon. He was followed by another Mercedes-AMG as Dominik Baumann put the #20 SPS Automotive Performance machine third fastest with a 1m32.286s, topping the Pro-Am classification in the process.
The #222 Allied Racing Porsche was fourth quickest courtesy of Klaus Bachler, followed by two more Mercedes-AMG runners. AKKA ASP completed a fine day's work by topping the Silver Cup order with its #87 machine, while the class rival #90 Madpanda Motorsport entry was next.
The session was stopped around the two-hour mark when then #31 Team WRT Audi founds its way into the gravel. Green flags soon signalled the resumption of the test, but track activity was limited for the next hour. It picked up again for the final 60 minutes and had dried out fully by the chequered flag, though Gounon's late move into second spot was the only change to the order. There were brief stoppages during the closing minutes as the #54 Porsche and #77 Lamborghini both hit trouble in separate incidents.
This weekend's season-closing event will be the series' first trip to Valencia and will see the Sprint Cup stage its landmark 100th race on Sunday afternoon. Teams' and drivers' championships will be decided in the Pro-Am and Silver Cup classes, with Lamborghini squads Barwell Motorsport and Emil Frey Racing leading respectively.
The competitive action begins on Saturday with Free Practice (09:30 CEST), Pre-Qualifying (11:45) and Qualifying (15:30), while the season will conclude on Sunday with 60-minute races at 10:00 and 14:45. Each session will be broadcast live on the official series websites and social media platforms, as well as the GTWorld and GTWorld Français YouTube channels.