After the pro honours were wrapped up last time out in the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, the attention was solely on the Silver class championship as the last race of the series visited Barcelona.
Coming into the final event was Rinaldi Racing just a single point clear of Team WRT with Madpanda still in with a chance in third. But after a strong campaign for the squad so far from Ezequiel Companc, it was series debutant Juuso Puhakka who would be representing the Spanish outfit.
In qualifying it looked like it would be Nicklas Nielsen for Iron Lynx would line up on pole, but a last lap effort from new boy Puhakka meant a perfect start to his debut in the series. His silver class contenders Perel and Tomita would start 8th and 11th respectively and would need a strong race to deny Madpanda the title.
The hopes for Iron Lynx and Nielsen were dashed even before green as it seemed Nicklas did not enter into the race in time so his race was finished before it had begun.
As the race got underway it was Puhakka who kept his eyes ahead and managed to maximise his grid position, leading into turn one, while Dries Vanthoor who started in third struck early and managed to jump Marvin Dienst on lap one. Perel’s title hopes were given another kick after being turned around fighting with Raffaele Marciello and David Pittard and dropping him down to 14th position.
While the leaders were running four seconds clear from fourth place Alex Aka, the battle was on fire behind the Audi driver between David Pittard and Mike Grenier. An initial dive into the last chicane came to nothing and left him running wide, but it was clear he was faster and another hip and shoulders move into turn four gave him fifth place.
It would only take another five laps for both Grenuier and Pittard to find a way through the Audi of Aka and within striking distance of the podium.
The other Silver class Championship contender, Tomita for WRT, looked to be struggling in the first stint, the fast and flowing nature of Barcelona meaning he could not find a way through Marciello and Lind and only making up two positions since the start.
At the pitstop window it was Pittard who decided to dive in early, and it would prove a decisive move after managing to leap Grenier and leave him right behind the Mercedes-AMG of Marvin Dienst running in third. The leading teams chose to take to the pitlane late in the window and came in all together with 26 mins to go, and ultimately neutralising the battle and positions.
After some storming laps and quick pitstop, it looked to be David Perel who was starting to make progress, running as high as seventh and battling with Marciello, but some legacy damage from the opening skirmishes and a late drive-through penalty eventually meant he crossed the line in 11th.
Finishing just ahead of Marcielle was Tomita, who’s non-points score meant Rinaldi would seal second in the SILVER class standings ahead of Team WRT.
For the remaining stint it looked like Puhakka was in total control, the gap settled at four seconds for lap after lap before finally crossing the line just 1.5 seconds ahead of Drive Vanthoor who would secure first in the PRO class. Taking victory for Madpanda vaulted the team ahead of Rinaldi and WRT and left them first in the overall SILVER class standings for the series.
David Pittard consolidated a strong fourth position and guaranteed second in overall PRO class for the BMW driver, despite his best efforts he could not extract third from Dienst who secured the final podium position and second in the SILVER class.
After a successful first year for the series, the Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series will return in 2022 with a new calendar revealed on Sunday. The full event can be viewed below.
- 90 SILVER Juuso Puhakka Mercedes AMG GT3 Madpanda Motorsport 1:00:30.997
- 32 PRO Dries Vanthoor Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo Team WRT +1.516
- 7 SILVER Marvin Dienst Mercedes AMG GT3 TokSport WRT +9.612
- 34 PRO David Pittard BMW M6 GT3 Walkenhorst Motorsport +11.579
- 99 SILVER Alex Aka Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo Attempto Racing +16.574
- 57 SILVER Mike Grenier Mercedes AMG GT3 Winward Racing +21.104
- 31 SILVER Ryuichiro Tomita Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo Team WRT +35.970
- 88 PRO Raffaele Marciello Mercedes AMG GT3 AKKA ASP +38.501
- 16 SILVER Kikko Galbiati Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo GRT Grasser +50.745
- 14 SILVER Alex Fontana Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Emil Frey Racing +51.000
- 33 SILVER David Perel Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo Rinaldi Racing +68.730
- 87 SILVER Thomas Drouet Mercedes AMG GT3 AKKA ASP +73.765
- 40 SILVER Yannick Mettler Mercedes AMG GT3 SPS Automotive Performance +90.588
- 25 PRO Dennis Lind Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo Sainteloc Racing DNF
- 22 PRO Matt Campbell Porsche 991II GT3 R GPX Racing DNF
- 114 PRO Arthur Rougier Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Emil Frey Racing DNF
- 66 PRO Steijn Schothorst Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo Attempto Racing DNF
- 54 PRO Christian Engelhart Porsche 991II GT3 R Dinamic Motorsport DNF
- 159 SILVER Nicolai Kjærgaard Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 Garage 59 DNF
- 4 PRO Nico Bastian Mercedes AMG GT3 Haupt Racing Team DNF
- 38 PRO Ben Barnicoat McLaren 720S GT3 JOTA DNF
- 63 PRO Marco Mapelli Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo Orange 1 FFF Racing Team DNF
- 5 SILVER Indy Dontje Mercedes AMG GT3 Haupt Racing Team DNF
- 51 PRO Nicklas Nielsen Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo Iron Lynx DNF