The Fanatec GT World Challenge Endurance Cup closed out its season this past weekend in Barcelona with a three-hour race. It was the last of five longer races that make up the Endurance Cup championship, with the first four rounds taking place at Monza in Italy, Paul Ricard in France, the Nürburgring in Germany, and Spa in Belgium.
The ROWE Racing team with drivers Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann, and Nick Yelloly had a shot at the Pro Cup class championship going into the finale, but left as runners-up to the Akkodis ASP Mercedes-AMG team with drivers Raffaele Marciello, Jules Gounon, and Timur Boguslavsky. The Eng, Wittmann, Yelloly trio had wins at the Monza opener and the Spa 24 Hour, but a thirteenth-place finish at the ‘Ring cost them dearly in the fight for the championship.
In qualifying at Barcelona, Eng, Wittmann, and Yelloly had the fastest combined time, with an average lap of 1:40.020 in the #98 M4 GT3, but that was only good enough for thirteenth on the grid as the pole went to the #51 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 with a combined time of 1:39.454. A few other BMWs were in the top twenty overall, with Max Hesse, Neil Verhagen, and Dan Harper in sixteenth in the #998 M4 GT3, Dries Vanthoor, Sheldon van der Linde, and Charles Weerts seventeenth in the #32 M4 GT3 and Augusto Farfus, Valentino Rossi, and Maxim Martin in nineteenth in the #46 car.
The Ferraris proved to be the fastest in the race as well, with the #51 296 GT3 taking the overall and Pro Cup win, followed by the #71 car, also entered by AF Corse with works drivers. They were followed on the podium by the #96 Porsche 911 GT3. The #98 M4 GT3 was the best BMW finisher in tenth, with the #32 in eleventh and the #998 in twelfth. The #46 retired early in the race. “Even though the ending didn’t go as planned, it was an overall great season,” said Eng. “We became vice-champions and won the most important race of the year at Spa. We had an incredibly reliable car with no technical issues throughout the season. Plus, I had great teammates, both in the #98 and the sister car. Ultimately, our disappointing weekend at the Nürburgring set us back significantly in the title race, and we couldn’t recover it here at Barcelona. Congratulations to the Mercedes crew!”
The best class finish among the BMWs was the #30 Team WRT M4 GT3 of Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer, Calan Williams, and Niklas Krütten, which finished fourth in the Gold Cup class.
There’s still one round of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe championship still to run, with the final Sprint round of the season taking place at Zanvoort in Holland on October 14th-15th. BMW M Team WRT has a busy week, as they are heading to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to compete in the Indy 8 Hour, which is the final round of the Intercontinental GT Challenge series.
[Photos courtesy BMW, SRO, ROWE Racing]