SPS automotive performance in the points at an eventful opening round of the GT World Challenge Europe

SPS automotive performance produced impressive fightbacks to score its first points of the season in both the Silver Cup and the Pro-Am class in an eventful opening race of the Endurance Cup in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS. The first round of the season in the high-class SRO series at Autodromo Nazionale Monza was characterised by unsettled weather conditions and a lot of incidents.

Qualifying for the long-awaited start of the GT World Challenge Europe in Monza was by no means ideal for the two SPS automotive performance Mercedes-AMG GT3. Neither of the two SPS automotive performance cars was able to put together an ideal lap in the short individual sessions, in which more than 40 GT3 cars battled it out for grid positions. Valentin Pierburg (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT) had to settle for 39th place in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Yannick Mettler, Miklas Born (both SUI) and Jordan Love (AUS) started the opening race of the season from 38th place in the number 40 car.

Both the Mercedes-AMG GT3 fielded by SPS automotive performance made up positions in the overall standings at the start of the three-hour race. However, the onset of rain within the first few laps made it impossible to set fast lap times on the slicks. Start driver Valentin Pierburg headed to the pits in the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3, in order to switch to the safer wet-weather tyres. Yannick Mettler, on the other hand, stayed out on the track in the number 40 car. Mettler then benefitted from a safety car phase, triggered by a number of incidents, and climbed several places thanks to a well-timed pit stop.

Over the course of the rest of the race, a series of incidents and safety car phases shook up the whole field. Jordan Love, who took over from Mettler, drove a quiet but effective stint and climbed a number of positions. Youngster Miklas Born, who was at the wheel of the #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the final third of the race, put his foot down again in the final stages. He crossed the finish line in 18th place overall, which meant eighth place in the fiercely-competitive Silver Cup.

Dominik Baumann also ended the race strongly, having taken over the number 20 car in 31st place overall after a good double stint from Valentin Pierburg. Baumann overtook several direct rivals in the Pro-Am class in the closing stages of the race and, after three hours of racing, guided the black Mercedes-AMG GT3 home in fifth place in the Pro-Am class (P28 overall).

Next up for SPS automotive performance in the GT World Challenge Europe are the first races of the Sprint Cup season from 7th to 9th May. Magny-Cours, in France, hosts the next race weekend of the SRO series.

Dominik Baumann, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20: “I am actually very happy with the result, having started from a long way back on the grid. Valentin did a very good job and I was able to secure fifth place in our class. We can build on that result. I am looking forward to the next race.”

Yannick Mettler, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40: “It was an intense start into the season for us with a steep learning curve. We are not yet where we want to be but we finished the weekend on a positive note, which is great motivation for the whole team. Everybody did a faultless job in the race, thanks to the whole SPS crew and my team mates for that!”

Jordan Love, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40: “It was a very tough race, in which the conditions changed frequently. After qualifying, which was not ideal, we managed to make up a lot of positions. I am very happy with our first race.”

Miklas Born, Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40: “On the whole, I am very happy with the race. The goal was to finish in the points, and we managed that. I had an awful lot of fun and made great progress.”

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “When you see how the race panned out, as a team principal, you first have to be happy that both cars made it to the finish without any major incidents. On the other hand, we were possibly hoping for a little more this weekend. On the whole, however, we can be satisfied. We saw again how evenly matched the cars are in this strong series. We must now push hard again next time out, in order to get a better result.”