The Final Word: Misano

The Final Word: Misano

Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS made its annual trip to Misano last weekend, staging the second Sprint Cup meeting of the season two weeks after the opening event at Brands Hatch. 

Like the British round, it featured a packed schedule: two races, both on Saturday, with the second taking place after dark. As the home race for Valentino Rossi – and the scene of his maiden series win last year – there was a particularly strong contingent of the Italian's fans. Once again, Rossi gave them exactly what they came for by triumphing in Race 1 alongside Maxime Martin. 

It proved to be a dream weekend for their Team WRT squad, which swept the overall wins and bagged a pair of Silver Cup victories with the #30 BMW. The Gold Cup and Bronze Cup classes produced different winners in each race, the latter making its first appearance in Sprint to complete a 35-car entry list. Before everyone’s attention turns to the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa, this is the Final Word on Misano 2024. 

- Rossi and Martin took Race 1 victory by just 0.275 seconds. Martin was able to build a small advantage during the opening stint, while Rossi soaked up the pressure from the sister car of Charles Weerts during the second. This earned Rossi his second Sprint Cup triumph and Martin a third.

- The #46 crew backed up their win by scoring a podium in Race 2, making Misano their best Sprint Cup weekend to date. The second contest was arguably Rossi's finest performance in a GT3 car, particularly when he made an incisive pass on the #111 CSA Racing Audi.

- Weerts and Vanthoor scored Race 2 victory with a typically assured drive from pole. This was their eighth win at Misano – easily the most by any crew at a single track – and their 15th as a duo. 

- This marked the first time that a team has won both races at a Sprint Cup weekend with different crews since Zolder 2017, when WRT swept the board with Markus Winkelhock/Will Stevens and Robin Frijns/Stuart Leonard. The Belgian squad now has 50 Sprint Cup wins, while BMW has six. 

- The #32 BMW set the fastest lap time in both races, with Weerts the quickest man in Race 1 and Vanthoor matching his teammate in Race 2. The former set the best racing lap of the weekend, a 1m32.207s, capping what was arguably his best showing yet in BMW machinery. 

- On a weekend when several Mercedes-AMG runners struggled for outright pace, the #48 Winward Racing Team Mann-Filter entry of Maro Engel and Lucas Auer produced two strong runs to stay within striking distance at the top of the standings. Auer was especially impressive in both qualifying and race conditions. 

- Weerts and Vanthoor hold a slender lead at the top of the Sprint Cup table. The three-time series champions have 49 points, four more than Engel/Auer. 

- Emil Frey Racing maintained its strong start to the season. Both cars scored points in both races, the #69 Ferrari of Giacomo Altoè and Thierry Vermeulen taking a podium in the opening contest. The Swiss squad occupies third in the Sprint Cup teams' championship with 46.5 points, behind Team WRT (56 points) and Winward Racing (48.5 points). 

- The second outing brought a best finish of the season for Rutronik Racing, with the #96 Porsche coming home fifth. The Sven Müller/Patric Niederhauser-driven car was also seventh in Race 1, earning a solid haul of points.

- Madpanda Motorsport earned its first points of the season by taking P8 in Race 2. Notably, the Argentine squad has made a significant step forward with its pit stop work: the #90 Mercedes-AMG completed the third-fastest stop in both races, behind only Team WRT. 

- As was the case last year, Tresor Attempto Racing endured a disappointing weekend at Misano. The Audi squad failed to register points with either of its cars, a significant setback in its title defence. 

- Team WRT could hardly have hoped for more at Misano thanks to a double Silver Cup win for its #30 BMW, which finished an excellent sixth overall in Race 1 and was 10th in Race 2. This double victory has elevated Sam De Haan and Calan Williams to the top the class standings with an advantage of 20 points over their closest rivals. 

- AF Corse scored a brace of Silver Cup podiums with its #52 Ferrari of Sean Hudspeth and Jef Machiels. This was a welcome result for the Italian squad after the sister #71 Ferrari crashed on Friday morning, forcing its withdrawal from the event. 

- The #58 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG scored P3 in Silver in Race 1, while the #26 Saintéloc Racing Audi was runner-up in in Race 2. In doing so, both crews earned a first class podium finish of the campaign. 

- Saintéloc Racing took the opening Gold Cup victory, the second in succession for Gilles Magnus and Paul Evrard after their Race 2 triumph at Brands Hatch. They were clear winners, finishing 16 seconds ahead of the Liqui Moly team Engstler by OneGroup Audi. The #51 Racing Team Turkey Ferrari was third, securing its first podium of 2024.

- CSA Racing took Gold honours in Race 2. The French squad started both races from class pole, but endured a difficult Race 1 outing. The second contest saw Simon Gachet and Lucas Légeret take their revenge, finishing comfortably clear of fellow Audi runners Team Engstler and Saintéloc Racing. 

- The three Audi squads are closely matched at the top of the Gold Cup standings. Magnus/Evrard have 53 points on the board, while Luca Engstler/Max Hofer have 52.5 and Gachet/Légret have 47.

- Misano saw the Bronze Cup make its first appearance of the season at a Sprint event. Race 1 went to Dinamic GT with its #54 Porsche. Pro driver Marvin Dienst showed formidable speed throughout the weekend, running second overall in Race 1 before handing over to Philipp Sager. Dienst was also the fastest Bronze Cup driver in both races. 

- Jonathan Hui hadn't contested a Sprint Cup round since Magny-Cours in 2021, which ended with a pair of Pro-Am wins. Now competing in the Bronze Cup, he showed the same level of performance at Misano, securing pole and the class win in Race 2 with Eddie Cheever. Hui also set the best lap of the weekend for a Bronze-rated driver, posting a 1:33.272 in Qualifying. 

- Contesting its first full Fanatec GT Europe campaign, Imperiale Racing produced a strong showing on home soil with its #85 Lamborghini. The Dmitry Gvazava/Ugo De Wilde-driven car was second in class in Race 1 and came home third in Race 2, putting them firmly in contention at the top of the class standings.

- Hui/Cheever hold the smallest advantage with 22 points to 21.5 for Gvazava/De Wilde. The Century Motorsport BMW crew of Darren Leung/Dan Harper are third with Sager/Dienst fourth, the top four crews separated by just 3.5 points.

- Three drivers made their Fanatec GT Europe debuts at Misano: Gilles Stadsbader, Marco Butti and Lorens Lecertua. Stadsbader enjoyed the most successful weekend, taking Silver Cup runner-up in Race 2 aboard the #26 Saintéloc Racing Audi. 

- James Cottingham once again stood in for Miguel Ramos aboard the #188 Garage 59 McLaren. The Portuguese racer underwent surgery earlier in the season but is expected to return for next month’s CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa.

- Last weekend’s event was the 10th to be staged at Misano since the track first appeared on the Fanatec GT Europe calendar in 2015. Since then, there have been a total of 764 racing laps, adding up to almost 3,230 kilometres.

- With only a brief safety car period in Race 2, a total of 77 laps were completed across both contests. This is the most in the event’s history, excluding 2020 when three races were staged. 

- Many teams travelled directly from Misano to Spa-Francorchamps for the CrowdStrike 24 Hours of Spa Prologue. They carried out two days of testing at the Belgian track in preparation for next month’s main event. The entry list for the centenary edition was announced during the Prologue, with 67 GT3 cars set to do battle. 

- The Belgian endurance classic is the next stop on the calendar. Track activity begins on Tuesday 25 June, followed on Wednesday by the traditional parade to Spa city centre – which will follow a special route that takes in the old circuit. The highlight of the season gets underway at 16:30 on Saturday 29 June, with the centenary winners set to be crowned 24 hours later.