- Overall and Pro-Am Fanatec GT Sprint titles up for grabs at 4 km Spanish circuit
- Combined series championships also at stake ahead of Endurance finale at Barcelona
- Strong 26-car entry list confirmed for concluding short-format event of 2022
Champions will be crowned next weekend at Circuit Ricardo Tormo Valencia (16-18 September) where a pair 60-minute races will bring the curtain down on the 2022 Fanatec GT Sprint season.
Both the overall and Pro-Am titles are up for grabs at the 4 km Spanish venue, which made its maiden appearance on the calendar in 2021 and stages the finale once again this term. It will conclude a five-round championship that began at Brands Hatch in May before taking in Magny-Cours, Zandvoort and Misano, setting up this weekend's decider.
A 26-car field will contest the event, maintaining the same high standard seen throughout the 2022 campaign. With seven of eight races this term won from pole, qualifying will be crucial in what promises to be a close-fought final battle for the Fanatec GT Sprint crown.
Team WRT and Akkodis ASP primed for championship showdown
From the opening weekend of the season, two squads established themselves as favourites for the overall Fanatec GT Sprint championship: Team WRT and Akkodis ASP. Representing Audi and Mercedes-AMG respectively, they will go head-to-head at Valencia to dispute both the teams' and drivers' titles.
WRT holds the advantage in both classifications. Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts lead the drivers' standings with 109.5 points, giving the Belgian duo an excellent opportunity to seal their third successive crown. The teams' championship is closer, with WRT on 114.5 points and Akkodis ASP just 4.5 in arrears.
This will be an especially significant weekend for Team WRT following the announcement that it will conclude its glittering partnership with Audi at the end of 2022. As such, Valencia will mark the final Fanatec GT Sprint event for this ultra-successful combination, which has amassed 44 race wins and 13 overall Fanatec GT Sprint titles since 2013.
The team aiming to prevent yet another success is Akkodis ASP. The #89 Mercedes-AMG crew of Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy have 98 points, placing them within striking distance of the WRT duo. What makes this battle particularly fascinating is that Mercedes-AMG was dominant at Valencia last term, suggesting that the competitive advantage could swing towards Akkodis ASP at the crucial moment.
Both teams have additional Pro entries that could play a role in the outcome of the title battle. Team WRT will call upon the #31 of Chris Mies and Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, as well as the #46 of Frédéric Vervisch and Valentino Rossi, the latter returning to a track at which he won twice as a MotoGP rider. Akkodis ASP adds the #88 Mercedes-AMG, which will see regular driver Jim Pla joined by a stand-in teammate after Jules Gounon was ruled out with a back injury.
Tresor by Car Collection will hope to conclude its maiden Fanatec GT Sprint campaign by sealing third in the teams’ classification. The Italian squad will deploy its usual two-car effort with Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet in the #11 Audi, while Mattia Drudi is joined by youngster Lorenzo Patrese in the #12 car.
There will be two more Audi entries among the Pro runners, with Saintéloc Junior Team fielding the #25 machine for Patrick Niederhauser and Aurélien Panis, while Attempto Racing retains Dennis Marschall and Pieter Schothorst in the #66 car. These two squads finished one-two in the recent Fanatec GT Endurance event at Hockenheim and will look to carry that form over to the upcoming contest.
McLaren squad JP Motorsport will hope to continue its impressive Fanatec GT Sprint speed with the #112 McLaren duo of Vince Abril and Dennis Lind. Italian squad Dinamic Motorsport completes the Pro field with a pair of Porsche entries and will aim for a strong finish at a track where it impressed last term. Christian Engelhart and Adrien de Leener will share the #54 machine, while Klaus Bachler and Giorgio Roda handle the #56.
Garage 59 and AF Corse out front in Pro-Am decider, Silver Cup settled ahead of finale
While the Pro-Am championship remains up for grabs, the Garage 59 pairing of Miguel Ramos and Dean MacDonald are in a strong position to seal top spot at Valencia. A perfect weekend at Misano left the McLaren pair with 98.5 points, 20.5 clear of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini (#52 AF Corse Ferrari). Garage 59 has been in fine form of late and could even wrap the title up in race 1.
With 71.5 points on the board Cedric Sbirrazzuoli also retains an outside shot and will be joined in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari by regular teammate Hugo Delacour. There is also a slim chance that Patryk Krupinski and Christian Klien could snatch the title, though a torrid weekend at Misano leaves the pair 32 points adrift with 35 available.
While the drivers' crown looks to favour Garage 59, AF Corse holds the advantage in the teams' championship. The Italian outfit has a three-point lead over its rival and, as a two-car effort, enjoys greater scoring potential. As such it is quite possible that title honours will be split between two squads when the final chequered flag falls at Valencia.
The Silver Cup title was settled before the summer break, with AF Corse duo Ulysse De Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean putting the teams' and drivers' championships beyond doubt at Misano. The #53 Ferrari duo have dominated since the season opener, taking five wins and three more podiums from eight races. They will go in search of yet more silverware at Valencia and could finish as high as third in the overall Fanatec Sprint standings.
The battle for second spot is considerably closer. Alex Aka and Nicolas Schöll (#99 Attempto Racing Audi) hold the advantage with 76.5 points, followed by the #87 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG duo of Casper Stevenson and Thomas Drouet on 69. Newly crowned Fanatec GT Endurance Silver Cup champions Thomas Neubauer and Benji Goethe (#30 Team WRT Audi) are also in contention having amassed 65.5 points and will hope to seal the combined class title at Valencia.
Akkodis ASP will run a second car for Igor Walilko and Petru Umbrarescu, who are searching for a maiden class podium of 2022. Sky Tempesta Racing will do likewise with Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III sharing the #93 Mercedes-AMG, while the German marque's roster is further bolstered by the #90 Madpanda Motorsport entry. The Spanish squad makes its first Fanatec GT Sprint start of 2022 on home turf, with Ezequiel Perez Companc and a to-be-confirmed teammate joining the grid for the finale.
There's further Audi representation in the Silver Cup thanks to the #26 Sainteloc Junior Team entry of Nicolas Baert and Gilles Magnus, while GSM Novamarine finishes its debut season with the #18 Lamborghini of Dutch duo Danny Kroes and Daan Pijl. Garage 59 completes the 26-car field, with youngsters Manuel Maldonado and Ethan Simoni sharing its #159 McLaren.
Versatile support package in place for season-closing Fanatec GT Sprint meeting
As well as the championship battles that will be decided at Valencia, the event will also represent the latest round of the global Fanatec GT World Challenge Powered by AWS. Mercedes-AMG currently enjoys a lead of more than 4,000 points over Audi Sport, putting the German marque on the brink of a fourth successive crown. Six of the seven competing brands will be on-track in Spain, with Ferrari, Porsche, Lamborghini and McLaren also in action.
The Valencia weekend will feature a particularly diverse support schedule. The Fanatec GT2 European Series will stage its fifth and penultimate round of the 2022 season, while further on-track action comes from Porsche Carrera Cup France and the FFSA F4 French Championship. What's more, fans can also look forward to a series of demonstrations from Volrace, a travelling track expo that will take some spectacular cars on to the Spanish circuit.
The event will follow the regular Fanatec GT Sprint programme, beginning with free practice and pre-qualifying on Friday. The opening qualifying session and 60-minute race will run on Saturday, while the same schedule will be repeated on Sunday. As such, the final chequered flag is set to fall at 15:00 on Sunday afternoon, bringing the curtain down on another action-packed season of Fanatec Sprint competition.
Friday 16 September
09:40-11:00: Free Practice
Saturday 17 September
09:00–09:20: Qualifying 1
14:00–15:00: Race 1
Sunday 18 September
09:00–09:20: Qualifying 2
14:00–15:00: Race 2
STATS & FACTS
- Ahead of its final Fanatec GT Sprint event with Audi machinery, Team WRT has amassed 44 of the Ingolstadt marque's 48 overall wins in the series.
- A win at Valencia would see Dries Vanthoor surpass brother Laurens to become the most successful driver in Fanatec GT Sprint history. They are currently tied on 14 wins
- Seven of this year's eight Fanatec GT Sprint races have been won from pole, more than in any season since the current weekend format was introduced in 2018. In the 14-race 2015 season, 10 races were won from pole.
- Raffaele Marciello can secure the combined Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS drivers’ title at Valencia. Should the Akkodis ASP driver score no more than 14 points fewer than Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts, a second overall championship will be his.
- Akkodis ASP can also wrap up the teams' title, but the Mercedes-AMG squad must outscore WRT by six points to guarantee the crown at Valencia.
- The battle for the combined Pro-Am drivers' title is the closest of all, with just 1.5 points between Miguel Ramos (Garage 59) and the AF Corse duo of Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini.
- Lap Record: 1m31.931s (Raffaele Marciello, #88 Mercedes-AMG, 2022)