Ricardo Feller and Mattia Drudi put Tresor Orange1 back on the top step of the Fanatec GT Europe podium today with a commanding Race 1 victory at Hockenheim.
The #40 Audi started second on the grid, alongside the #60 VSR Lamborghini of Jordan Pepper, and slotted into P2 when the lights went out. The order remained unchanged during the opening laps, though Feller looked comfortable as he matched the leader’s pace.
The Swiss driver pounced just as the pit window opened, getting a run on the Lamborghini at the final corner and then diving past on the outside as they negotiated turn 1. His work complete, Feller stopped next time by and passed the baton to Drudi. The Tresor Orange1 squad lost time in the pits, but when the #40 Audi emerged in front of Dries Vanthoor (#32 Team WRT BMW) it seemed that they had done just enough.
However this did not account for the #12 Comtoyou Racing Audi, which had received a lightning-fast service as Fred Vervisch handed over to Nicolas Baert. Having run fourth at the end of the opening stint, the Belgian squad found itself out front when the stops were complete.
It was now a question of pure pace, something Drudi demonstrated in abundance by reeling off a succession of fastest laps. A three-second gap quickly diminished to a little over one second, putting the Italian firmly in position to snatch the lead. He did so with a cool manoeuvre some 15 minutes from the chequered flag, returning the #40 Audi to a lead it would not surrender.
Baert now faced the daunting prospect of being chased down by three-time series champion Vanthoor, but the younger Belgian showed impressive speed to maintain a three-second advantage over the #32 BMW. What’s more, Vanthoor was coming under pressure from another youngster as Thierry Vermeulen put on his best performance yet in the #69 Emil Frey Racing Ferrari.
Having made good progress with Albert Costa in the first stint, the #69 car continued its forward march by passing the #60 VSR Lamborghini, which Pepper had handed to Franck Perera. Vermeulen proceeded to catch Vanthoor and was all over the BMW during the final laps, while the pole-sitter’s day ended in a disappointing retirement.
Drudi pulled comfortably clear during the closing stages, ultimately taking the chequered flag by a margin of 6.614s. The victory reignites the Tresor Orange1 crew’s title challenge after a disappointing outing at Misano, moving Feller and Drudi to within just 1.5 points of the championship lead. Indeed, the manner of their win will be a major confidence boost. Baert came home second, his best result yet in the series.
Vermeulen looked ready to settle for fourth, only to make a forceful pass at the final corner and ensure that he too scored a maiden Fanatec GT Europe podium. Fourth-placed Vanthoor was followed home by the sister #30 Team WRT BMW of Calan Williams and Niklas Krütten, who captured Gold Cup victory ahead of class rival Adam Eteki (#10 Boutsen VDS Audi).
Seventh place went to the #11 Comtoyou Racing Audi driven by Christopher Haase, followed by Maxime Martin in the #46 Team WRT BMW. The latter made extraordinary progress from 35th on the grid, with Valentino Rossi making up 10 places in the opening stint before handing to Martin. The Belgian was at his very best, completing several passes to claim important championship points for the #46 crew.
Silver Cup honours went to the #77 HRT Mercedes-AMG of Jordan Love and Alain Valente in 12th spot overall. This was an emotional win, coming the day after regular driver Frank Bird’s father Paul passed away. Both men paid tribute afterwards, while Love also praised Valente’s performance after a last-minute call-up.
Tresor Attempto Racing took the Bronze Cup with its #66 Audi. Dennis Marschall was among the stars of the opening stint, running P3 overall before handing over to Andrey Mukovoz. He resisted pressure from the experienced Ralf Bohn (#91 Herberth Motorsport Porsche) to take the victory, the first for Tresor Attempto in this class.
In contrast to a clean second half of the race, the opening 30 minutes featured a number of incidents and interruptions. There were two safety cars, the first caused by a stranded Mercedes-AMG following contact at the hairpin and the second to clear up an accident that involved the #119 Lamborghini, the #52 Ferrari and the #28 Honda.
The #88 Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG was also an early retirement. Timur Boguslavskiy brought the car into the box on lap four after contact caused terminal damage to the championship leader. Boguslavskiy and Raffaele Marciello retain their place at the top of the Sprint Cup standings, but their advantage has been greatly diminished.
The field will reconvene tomorrow morning for Qualifying 2, which takes place at 09:55 CEST. The second race of the Hockenheim weekend is scheduled for 14:35, with both sessions airing live and in full on the GT World YouTube channel.