This weekend (13-15 November) will see the 2020 GT World Challenge Europe close out its season with a 40-car field tackling the 1000km of Circuit Paul Ricard. The final Endurance Cup event keeps its 1000km format to provide one last test for our teams in an ultra-competitive championship finale.
There will be Endurance Cup titles for teams and drivers up grabs in the overall classification, as well as the Silver Cup, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes. In the combined GT World Challenge Europe both the overall and Silver Cup titles are left to fight for.
The overall Endurance Cup drivers’ championship remains wide open ahead of the trip to France, with two leading crews tied on 52 points and several others close behind. After taking victory at the Nürburgring as well as a podium at the Total 24 Hours of Spa, the #54 Dinamic Motorsport Porsche squad of Christian Engelhart, Sven Müller and Matteo Cairoli have a small advantage over the always front running pair, Raffaele Marciello and Timur Boguslavskiy. For this race they are joined by former series champion Maxi Buhk in the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG.
AF Corse driver Alessandro Pier Guidi leads Ferrari’s chances of a maiden overall title with just a gap of 6 points to first place. Patrick Pilet, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet follow on 41 points, the trio are at the wheel of the #12 GPX Racing Porsche. Imola winners Kelvin van der Linde and Mirko Bortolotti are just one point further back in the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi.
For the Team’s standings, the picture is fairly similar. The Dinamic squad currently lead with 55 points, three above AKKA ASP, with Ferrari outfit SMP Racing taking 46 points through its AF Corse entry.
The fight for the overall GT World Challenge Europe drivers’ crown is more clear however. Timur Boguslavskiy holds a 24-point advantage over Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor. Currently sitting on 137, the Russian driver needs only a fifth-place finish to guarantee the title. Van der Linde also retains an outside shot on 106 points but will need a perfect weekend and for Boguslavskiy to finish no better than ninth.
The combined teams’ title will fought between two of the series’ elite squads. Belgium Audi Club Team WRT are just four points clear of rivals AKKA ASP ahead of the finale. With both taking the big prize before, they both know what it will take to once again secure the crown.
The Silver Cup class sees the battle for the Endurance title far from over. The Barwell Motorsport crew of Frederik Schandorff, Alex MacDowall and Patrick Kujala enjoy a 17 point gap going into the finale after winning at Imola and showing strongly at the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
Nothing is ever 100% secure as after clinching class honours in Belgium, Hubert Haupt and Sergey Afanasiev in the #5 HRT Mercedes-AMG, will be targeting maximum points at Circuit Paul Ricard as they seek to overhaul the points deficit. The HRT drivers are on par with Valentin Hasse-Clot and Andrew Watson driving the Garage 59 Aston Martin, while Baptise Moulin (Orange1 FFF Lamborghini) and Ezequiel Perez Companc (Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG) each retain a long shot at the title.
Like the fight for overall honours, the teams standings once again paint a similar picture. Barwell leads the way on 77 points, followed by Garage 59, on quite nicely, 59 points and HRT a further point behind. Orange1 FFF Racing and Madpanda Motorsport are outside bets, on 47 points.
The Madpanda squad has a more positive chance when it comes to the GT World Challenge Europe Silver Cup title hunt. Perez Companc has amassed 111.5 points in the drivers’ standings whilst his closest challenger will be Benjamin Hites in the #89 AKKA ASP car. Hites has it all to do as he currently sits on 29 points with 34 left to score. In the teams’ championship, Madpanda is 26.5 clear of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, with AKKA ASP a further two points down.
The final weekend of the 2020 season will begin with Friday’s bronze test, a one-hour session that gets underway at 18.30 (local time).
The full field will be out on Saturday morning, with a 90-minute free practice run going green at 08.00. Pre-qualifying is next at 13.50, giving competitors a further 90 minutes of track-time. At 17.15 the final qualifying session of the season will get underway, setting the grid for Sunday’s race. With several close-fought championship battles, the point on offer for pole in each class could prove crucial.
That just leaves the main event. Racing will get underway at 11.45 and run for 1,000km or a maximum of six hours, with the chequered flag set to fall at around 17.45.