Niklas Nielsen won the final Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series race of the season, but it was Daniel Juncadella and the AKKODIS ASP Team who were crowned overall champions.
The fifth and final round of the 2022 Fanatec Esports Pro Series had found its venue in the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. Voted in by fans, both the PRO and Silver class championships were up for debate heading into the last hour of sim racing available to the real-world grid.
AKKODIS ASP found themselves second placed in both hunts. They lay behind in the Silver class by five points to Attempto Racing, whilst the deficit was only one point to Beechdean AMR in the PRO class; a particularly interesting scenario given Beechdean’s absence from this round.
So close were the standings that any of the top six teams still had a mathematical chance to come out on top in the PRO category.
A disappointing qualifying effort at Suzuka was put to rest by Niklas Nielsen who placed his Iron Lynx Ferrari on pole position. Alongside the Dane would be Suzuka’s race winner Daniel Juncadella, eager to make it back-to-back victories and push AKKODIS towards championship glory.
His Silver class stablemate Tommaso Mosca started from fifth on the grid and second in the category behind direct rival Alex Aka of Attempto.
n between the two lay Arthur Rougier of the PRO Class who knew exactly what it took to win after all of his 2021 success. The third-highest PRO driver, Dries Vanthoor, rounded out the top six.
An incredibly messy first lap ensured, but the front row got away nicely. Both Aka and Mosca got into trouble surrounding the perfectly valid Rougier, the Frenchman ultimately only losing position to Vanthoor and Luca Ghiotto in the end. Aka had fallen to eighth overall by the end of the first lap but for Mosca it was a dismal twenty-first.
For the first time this year, the top six all read as PRO class ten minutes into the contest. Dan Harper was someone isolated with the recovering Aka behind (now in seventh place), but the scrap up ahead was something fierce.
Nielsen simply couldn’t pull away with his first place down to Ghiotto in fifth being covered by less than two seconds.
With the gaps ebbing and flowing with no real movement, Rougier made the call to break from the slipstream train and pit before the halfway mark. Ghiotto fancied covering off this potential undercut the following lap whilst Aka intended to make one of his own; still struggling to get past Harper.
The ploy had certainly worked for Rougier who cleared Ghiotto by some two and a half seconds. Vanthoor simply had to respond as soon as possible, joined in the pitlane by Harper. Whilst the British pilot found himself comfortably covering off the threat of Aka, Vanthoor had become the architect of his own downfall thanks to a pitlane speeding penalty.
Nielsen and Juncadella were soon in themselves although the Iron Lynx was brought onto pitroad much more gingerly than its AKKODIS rival. The gap of almost two seconds was gone though reestablished thanks to a fortunate pit exit for the Dane.
His Ferrari emerged ahead of the out-of-sequence Luca Patrese. Juncadella meanwhile was forced to sit behind for an entire lap whilst fighting off the ultimately retirement-bound Vanthoor.
With the race entering its final third, Aka was back on the attack. Thanks to judgement falling up Vanthoor, Harper now found himself in the fifth and final points scoring position for the PRO class. In the end, he did not need to worry himself fighting the German and thus left the door open for the Audi to waltz through into Repsol.
Aka was firing on all cylinders, dropping Harper and catching Ghiotto rapidly. On the stroke of eight minutes, the Italian found himself staying well clear into Turn 1.
Controlling the race up until the final lap, Nielsen almost threw all of his hard work away with a mistake into his last traversal of the first corner. Junacadella’s pressure was intense across the following four kilometres but it remained not good enough nor necessary for his personal quest.
Nielsen’s victory was a singular source of pride, yet Juncadella’s second provided AKKODIS with the PRO championship title. Aka locked in the same accolade for Silver class.
Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, Barcelona 2022 race results
- #51 PRO – Niklas Nielsen – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo Iron Lynx 1:00:29.257
- #88 PRO – Daniel Juncadella – Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo AKKODIS ASP Team +0.132
- #19 PRO – Arthur Rougier – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Emil Frey Racing +0.971
- #99 SILVER – Alex Aka – Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3 Attempto Racing +2.824
- #12 PRO – Luca Ghiotto – Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3 Tresor by Car Collection +6.941
- #50 PRO – Dan Harper – BMW M4 GT3 Rowe Racing +8.456
- #111 PRO – Dennis Lind – McLaren 720S GT3 JP Motorsport +39.023
- #54 PRO – Alessio Picariello – Porsche 911 GT3-R II Dinamic Motorsport +46.678
- #30 SILVER – Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer – Audi R8 LMS Evo II GT3 Team WRT +51.697
- #87 SILVER – Tommaso Mosca – Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo AKKODIS ASP Team +58.977