The penultimate round of the Fanatec GT Pro Series took a visit to the iconic Nürburgring track, and with championships up for grabs, teams were taking it as seriously as ever.
With some drivers away on other duties, there were some new names on the grid; Raffaele Marciello representing the AKKA Asp in the Pro class and Dries Vanthoor taking the driving seat for WRT with Kelvin Van Der Linde away.
But a lack of previous series experience didn’t seem to matter, with Vanthoor putting the Audi on pole ahead of his WRT teammate Ryuichiro Tomita – locking out the front row. The surprise qualifier was Kikko Galbiati, the GRT Grasser driver in the Silver class starting third on the grid showing brilliant pace.
The race got underway with a clean start in comparison to previous races, and it was Tomita who hung it around the outside of his teammate at turn one to take the inside and the lead through the Mercedes-Benz arena.
Arthur Rougier also made a good start, managing to get ahead of fellow Lamborghini driver Galbiati and giving him a clear sight of the Audi pair ahead. In comparison, it was Rougier’s principal contender Marciello who was the big loser, and all but halted any championship hopes after not even a racing lap – the Mercedes-AMG driver getting caught up in an incident with a spinning car and casing heavy damage leading to retirement.
Throughout the first 20 minutes, the battling in the top ten was fierce, and Alex Fontana and Matteo Cairoli traded positions every corner until eventually a mistake into the last chicane meant Cairoli had to let the position go. But out front, it was Tomita in charge and gradually pulling away from his WRT stablemate.
Just as the pit window opened, it was obvious the tyres of Vanthoor had left him, losing position to both Rougier and David Pittard in the space of the first three corners, then losing a further two positions after an excursion into the gravel at the hairpin. Even coming into the pits, the bad luck did not stop after copping a drive-through penalty ending any hope of a good result.
After the pitstops had all cycled through it was Tomita who was fully in control with a lead over nearly 10 seconds ahead of Rougier and Pittard. Matt Campbell was pushing Pittard, but it would be for nothing as the GPX driver did not take on the mandatory one litre of fuel during the stop and therefore disqualified – a costly mistake.
The race was on between Ezequiel Pérez Companc and Thomas Drouet, both fighting for Silver cup positions and points. After defending so well for so many laps, Companc made the move on the outside going into the final chicane but ran wide over the grass and dropped two positions making the Argentinian driver rage quit as he crossed the finish line.
The remaining 15 minutes of the race was consolidation for the leaders with first and second in different classes, Rougier only had to bring it home in second to secure the championship for Emil Frey Racing and Tomita could afford to ease off with a healthy 13-second advantage going onto the final lap.
Another podium finish would crown Arthur Rougier and Emil Frey the Pro Champions, while Tomita’s domination of the fourth round makes him the fourth different winner of the series with one round to go.
The series resumes with the final round at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya on 9th October where the Silver cup will be decided.
2021 Fanatec Esports GT Pro Series, Nürburgring results
- SILVER Ryuichiro Tomita – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Team WRT 1:00:10.061
- PRO Arthur Rougier – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Emil Frey Racing +13.948
- PRO David Pittard – BMW M6 GT3 – Walkenhorst Motorsport +17.511
- SILVER Kikko Galbiati – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – GRT Grasser +22.533
- SILVER Alex Fontana – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Emil Frey Racing +33.023
- PRO Matteo Cairoli – Porsche 991II GT3 R – Dinamic Motorsport +38.068
- PRO Nicolas Scholl – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Attempto Racing +56.120
- SILVER Miklas Born – Mercedes-AMG GT3 SPS – Automotive Performance +58.774
- SILVER Marvin Dienst – Mercedes AMG GT3 – TokSport WRT +1:00.609
- PRO Frederic Vervish – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Sainteloc Racing +1:17.586
- SILVER Thomas Drouet – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – AKKA ASP +1:20.989
- SILVER Alex Aka – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Attempto Racing +1:22.646
- PRO Nicklas Nielsen – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – Iron Lynx +1:31.400
- SILVER Benjamin Hites – Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo – Rinaldi Racing +1:35.431
- PRO Matt Campbell – Porsche 991II GT3 R – GPX Racing +2:31.514
- SILVER Alex MacDowall – Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 – Garage 59 +2 laps
- SILVER Ezequiel Companc – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Madpanda Motorsport DNF
- PRO Dries Vanthoor – Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo – Team WRT DNF
- PRO Nico Bastian – Mercedes-AMG GT3 Haupt – Racing Team DNF
- PRO Ben Barnicoat – McLaren 720S GT3 – JOTA DNF
- SILVER Michele Beretta – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – Haupt Racing Team DNF
- PRO Marco Mapelli – Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo – Orange 1 FFF Racing Team DNF
- SILVER Mikael Grenier – Mercedes-AMG GT 3– Winward Racing DNF
- PRO Raffaele Marciello – Mercedes-AMG GT3 – AKKA ASP DNF
Images: SRO media