The GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup arrives at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first title showdown of the 2020 season. With the season commencing later due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the time has flown by since the opening round atMisano in mid-August and this weekend sees the culmination of the Sprint Cup over three races.
The three one-hour races bring the total points on offer to 52.5. This then means that more than half of the 22-car field are mathematically in with a chance to lift the championship trophy. There are two primary contenders however that realistically are fighting for the crown with a few other teams that could spring a surprise.
Dries Vanthoor and Charles Weerts currently lead the way going into the Spanish finale. The #32 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT squad established a firm championship advantage by taking two wins at Misano as well as getting a strong points haul from Magny-Cours, although a tough weekend at the last race at Zandvoort means that although they sit on 60.5 points, there is still a battle to be had.
That battle comes from the HRT Mercedes-AMG duo of Maro Engel and Luca Stolz, who, despite missing the last round, are just 6.5 points off the top. Having been title winners before in the Endurance category, the duo know how to close out a championship and will be looking to surmount the gap.
The sister Team WRT crew of Kelvin van der Linde and Ryuichiro Tomita are also in with a shot at the title after a win at Zandvoort. They come into the finale pairing on 48 points, just 0.5 ahead of Timur Boguslavskiy in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG. Raffaele Marciello returns to the AKKA ASP car to give Timur all the support he needs to overhaul the points gap to the lead Audi.
The #25 Sainteloc Racing Audi crew of Christopher Haase and Arthur Rougier have harnessed their consistency to keep them in with a shout at the championship after trio of podium finishes leaves them on 46.5 points. The #163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini duo of Albert Costa and Giacomo Altoe completes the crews who have a realistic chance at the title in Spain. After a maiden Sprint Cup win at Zandvoort, they sit on 38 points.
The Silver Cup title is still to be decided but there is a clear favourite in the #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi crew of Steven Palette and Simon Gachet. The duo have been brilliant this season capturing three class wins and two further podiums to establish a 17-point cushion. The duo also became just the second Silver entrants to take an overall win when they triumphed on home soil at Magny-Cours.
The #90 Madpanda Motorsport crew of Ezequiel Perez Companc and Axcil Jefferies are the crew most likely to be able to usurp the Audi off the top spot. They have been winners this season at Misano and they will be looking to return to the top step at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya and ignite their title push. If Madpanda come away with the class title it would become the fourth successive Mercedes-AMG squad to take the Silver class in the Sprint Cup.
While the other titles are all set to be fought over this weekend, the Pro-Am class is close to being settled. Sky Tempesta Racing has dominated the class this year having taken six wins from seven races. The full-season #93 crew of Chris Froggatt and Eddie Cheever III won four times on the way to accumulating 104 points which leaves them 29 clear of their closest rivals. Louis Machiels and Andrea Bertolini are next in the #52 AF Corse Ferrari. The duo took a win at Misano but will need a return to the top step if they are to take the challenge the Tempesta squad.
The weekend properly gets underway on Friday with free practice sessions at 10:00 and 14:50 local time. Pre-qualifying starts off Saturday at 09:15, followed by the first qualifying session of the weekend at 12:50. This will set the grid for the opening race, which goes green at 17:15. The battle for the overall Sprint Cup title is guaranteed to be alive on the final day of the season. Two more qualifying sessions will take place back-to-back at 09:00 on Sunday, establishing the grids for the season-closing contest. Race two will get underway at 12:25, followed by the final Sprint event of the year at 16:30.