SPS automotive performance drivers Valentin Pierburg (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT), at the wheel of the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, narrowly missed out on a class victory in a dramatic finale to race two of the Sprint Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe, which took place in Misano, Italy. Sprint Cup debutants Lance David Arnold (GER) and Jordan Love (AUS) finished seventh and eighth in the Silver Cup to pick up points in both races in the high-quality GT3 series.
In Saturday’s opening race, start driver Jordan Love started from tenth place in the Silver Cup in the #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Love climbed two positions on the opening laps of what proved to be an eventful start to the race, and was running eighth in the fiercely-competitive Silver Cup when he came into the pits. Lance David Arnold, who took over at the wheel of the #40 car for the second part of the 60-minute race, managed to gain another position. This put the German/Australian duo seventh and earned them their first Sprint Cup points in the strong Silver Cup competition in the GT World Challenge Europe. The #20 car, with Valentin Pierburg at the wheel, dropped to the back of the field following an incident early in the race. Over the course of the race, however, Pierburg and his driving partner Dominik Baumann were able to close back in on their rival sin the Pro-Am class. In a sprint finish, Baumann managed to force his way into third place in the class to earn the Willsbach-based team its next Pro-Am podium and more valuable points in the Sprint Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe.
On Sunday, Lance David Arnold and the #40 car started the second 60-minute race of the weekend from 11th place in the Silver Cup. Arnold was also able to gain a number of positions in his stint, before handing over to Jordan Love during the mandatory pit stop. Love continued to battle for positions and crossed the finish line in eighth place in the class to secure another top-ten result on his first appearance in this season’s Sprint Cup in the GT World Challenge Europe. In contrast, the battle for victory in the Pro-Am was extremely dramatic. Start driver Dominik Baumann, in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, held onto third place in the class during his stint, before he handed over to Valentin Pierburg. The German first climbed into second place, before closing in on the leader in the Pro-Am class, lap by lap. By the final lap, Pierburg was within striking distance of the leading car and launched an initial attack, but without any success. He then brought more speed out of the final corner and onto the start/finish straight, which allowed him to pull level with his rival. Both cars were neck-and-neck as they crossed the finish line. It took the official timings to reveal the result. The black #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was beaten by the smallest possible margin of one thousandth of a second, putting it second in the Pro-Am class. Despite missing out on the class victory, this result was still sufficient for SPS automotive performance to successfully defend its lead in the Pro-Am sprint standings in the GT World Challenge Europe.
Next up for SPS automotive performance is the legendary 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, from 29th July to 1st August.
Dominik Baumann, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20: “Unfortunately, we had an incident in the first race, as Valentin was forced to swerve to avoid a car that had spun in front of him. We lost a lot of time and positions as a result. Despite this, we still made it onto the podium. In race two, I initially stayed out of trouble at the start, as there was a lot of fighting and minor incidents. Valentin did a mega job in his stint and almost claimed the class win from P3. It is obviously a shame that we missed out on the win by one thousandth of a second. However, I believe we can be very happy with the performance again. We will now prepare for Spa. The tests here were also very promising.”
Jordan Love, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40: “First of all, I would like to thank the team for giving me the opportunity to start here in the Sprint Cup. This gave me more driving time than in the Endurance Cup, where you share the car with more drivers. Working with Lance was also a lot of fun and very informative. He has a wealth of experience in this field. We expected a bit more from the qualifyings, but improved in both races. Despite the fierce battles, we managed to get the car round in one piece. I will take a lot from this weekend and am now really looking forward to the 24 Hours of Spa.”