Tresor Orange1 played its strategy to perfection in the second of this weekend’s Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup races at Brands Hatch to secure a richly deserved victory for Mattia Drudi and Ricardo Feller, while Valentino Rossi took the chequered flag in P2 to score his maiden series podium.
In contrast to the opening race, which saw Akkodis ASP record a lights-to-flag win, Tresor Orange1 came from seventh on the grid to earn its maiden Sprint Cup triumph. The #40 Audi had finished runner-up in race 1 but was a long shot for the afternoon contest after qualifying seventh. Feller took the start and made up a place immediately but found overtaking opportunities tough thereafter.
As such the team opted for the undercut, stopping almost as soon as the pit window opened. A quick turnaround put Drudi in clean air and the Italian made good use of it, ensuring that successive cars emerged from the pits behind the #40 Audi.
The bulk of the race was led by the #27 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi, which started from pole with Chris Mies at the wheel and maintained a comfortable advantage. However a brief safety car period on the 20-minute mark erased his early advantage, while increasing tyre degradation made it inevitable that the Tresor Orange1 car would snatch the lead.
In the end the #40 Audi held a comfortable advantage. Mies handed over to Grégoire Demoustier, but the Frenchman lost several places and ultimately fell away from the lead battle. Instead, it was the #46 Team WRT BMW that moved into second spot. It did so on merit: the car had run third early on, Maxime Martin fighting with the leaders before handing over to Rossi. The Italian looked at ease at the head of the pack, comfortably keeping the sister #32 Team WRT BMW of Charles Weerts at bay.
Drudi was similarly untroubled at the head of the order, taking victory by 3.7 seconds and ensuring that he and Feller leave Brands Hatch on top of the Fanatec GT Europe Sprint Cup standings. Rossi secured runner-up spot, sparking jubilant celebrations from the many fans who packed Brands Hatch to watch their hero.
Weerts took third to bank good points after teammate Dries Vanthoor started from 13th on the grid, followed by the #159 Garage 59 McLaren, which produced an impressive run with Nicolai Kjærgaard and Benji Goethe at the wheel. Indeed, the latter was pushing Weerts for much of the second stint, ultimately finishing less than a second behind the three-time series champion.
Lucas Légeret brought the #11 Comtoyou Racing Audi home in fifth after resisting significant pressure from Raffaele Marciello in the #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG. Timur Boguslavskiy had started 19th in the race 1 winner but made up ground in the opening phase before the French squad delivered the fastest pit stop of the weekend to give Marciello a fighting chance of points.
The Mercedes-AMG ace grabbed the opportunity with both hands, moving up to sixth before meeting his match in Légeret. Marciello very nearly found a way past during the final minutes, but the Audi man held firm to secure a hard-fought P5.
Seventh overall went to the #30 Team WRT BMW, which secured Gold Cup honours with Calan Williams and Niklas Krütten at the wheel. They vaulted to the lead during the pit stop phase, the #21 Comtoyou Racing Audi having led the early stages thanks to Gilles Magnus. He and Finlay Hutchison took second in class, with the #26 Saintéloc Junior Team Audi completing the Gold Cup podium.
Silver Cup victory went to the #119 VSR Lamborghini of Baptiste Moulin and Marcus Paverud. The Italian machine finished second on the road but claimed the win after the #77 HRT Mercedes-AMG was handed a 10-second penalty for contact. Having led the majority of the contest, the German outfit only lost victory by a second, while the #90 Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG completed the top-three.
This weekend’s event kicked off a busy period of the season for the Fanatec GT Europe paddock. Indeed, the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa Prologue takes place in less than 10 days’ time (23-24 May) before the Endurance Cup resumes with the popular six-hour race at Circuit Paul Ricard (2-4 June). As ever the Brands Hatch meeting generated plenty of storylines, and there are more to come as the season moves into the summer months.