Unlucky weekend for SPS automotive performance at Paul Ricard

At the second round of the Endurance Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe at the Circuit Paul Ricard, a good performance of the SPS automotive performance team was unrewarded. In the Pro-Am class, the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was on a podium course for a long time before it was forced to slow down by a safety car phase. The #40 sister car had to retire from the race.

Already in qualifying, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40 with Yannick Mettler, Miklas Born (both SUI) and Jordan Love (AUS) was pursued by bad luck. In the final section of qualifying, the silver Mercedes-AMG GT3 was struck by a part that had come loose from a competitors’ car in front. The resulting damage meant that fast laps were no longer possible and so the driver trio had to settle for 13th on the Silver Cup grid. In the Pro-Am category, Valentin Pierburg (GER), Dominik Baumann and Martin Konrad (both AUT) gained a promising starting position for the six-hour race on the Grand Prix circuit in southern France by finishing sixth in their class.

At the start of the second race in the Endurance Cup of the GT World Challenge, Valentin Pierburg as the starting driver in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #20 maintained his position in the strong field of 47 cars. Pierburg initially alternated with Martin Konrad at the wheel of the black Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the team was on course for the podium in the Pro-AM category for long periods of the race. The key scene occurred at the penultimate pit stop. Dominik Baumann had just taken over the car for the final double stint when the only full-course yellow was declared followed by a safety car phase. Baumann was therefore at a disadvantage compared with some of his competitors who had not yet completed their stop and lost a lap to the podium positions as a result. Although Baumann started a race to catch up with consistently good lap times in the last two hours of the race, Pierburg, Baumann and Konrad ultimately had to settle for fifth place in their class.

The opening phase of the race was characterized by many duels and overtaking maneuvers in all classes. This circumstance was the undoing of the sister car with the number 40. After starting driver Jordan Love had already gained to eighth place in the Silver Cup in the first half hour, a competitor in front of him spun and hit the left front of the silver Mercedes-AMG GT3. The resulting damage forced Jordan Love to make a longer pit stop for repairs. Once restored, Love returned to the track several laps down. As a result, a good finish this weekend was a long way off. Although Mettler, Born and Love made up a few positions, two punctures in the further race forced the team to take the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #40 out of the race. Thus the Willsbacher team remained without points in the Silver Cup in the second round of the Endurance Cup this time.

The second round of the Sprint Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe is scheduled for June 18-20 at Zandvoort in the Netherlands, before heading to Belgium for testing for the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa.

Dominik Baumann, #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “Overall, we had a good race. Valentin and Martin did a super job. Unfortunately, we had really bad luck with the full-course yellow after the pit stop, otherwise a podium finish would have been possible. Nevertheless, we can be satisfied with our performance.”
Yannick Mettler, #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “It’s a real shame. Our pace was really good until Jordan had the unfortunate accident. He was completely innocent there. On top of that came the tire punctures, which then took us completely out of the race. Now we have to look ahead and prepare for the next race.”
Jordan Love, #40 Mercedes-AMG GT3: “I’m absolutely gutted. It was definitely one of those races where everything that can go wrong does. The team did a great job to get the car fixed and back on track so quickly. We were then just unlucky with the punctures that ended the race for us. It’s disappointing that we had to end the race early and couldn’t show our true potential.”