The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS started with a podium finish in the Bronze Cup class for the #93 Garage 59-run Sky Tempesta McLaren in the three-hour, season-opener at Monza. The #188 McLaren of Miguel Ramos, Henrique Chaves and Louis Prette, also entered in the Bronze Cup, led the class until the final pit stop but had to settle for fourth after being delayed by a neighbouring team in the pits. The team’s #159 Pro class entry of Benjamin Goethe, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Nicolai Kjærgaard had a torrid time in Qualifying but cleared over half the field during the race, taking 12th in class at the chequered flag.
Race Day got off to a troubled start for all of the teams when problems with the local power network delayed the first of the three qualifying sessions and ultimately cancelled the third session with another power outage. The grid was therefore set by an aggregate time from the first two sessions.
This was great news for the #188 McLaren as Henrique Chaves had set the fastest time overall in the first session. A strong performance followed from returning Pro-Am Champion, Miguel Ramos, and that was enough for pole position in the Bronze Cup. The #93 Sky Tempesta McLaren secured third in Bronze Cup but the #159 Pro entry didn’t manage to get a good run due to an alternator problem and had to line up a long way down the grid.
When the race got underway on Sunday afternoon, over 50 GT3 cars went barrelling down to the tight first corner at Monza. Almost inevitably there was contact but all three Garage 59 McLarens got through unscathed. The race only really got going 30 minutes after the start and after two appearances from the Safety Car.
The #159 cycled through Goethe, then Kjærgaard and finally Kirchhöfer but starting from 44th meant they spent the afternoon fighting their way through traffic. All three got stuck into some epic battles and finished the race in a creditable 12th in class, which was 19th place overall.
The #93 Sky Tempesta McLaren had a strong and steady run from third on the grid in Bronze Cup. A clean start by Froggatt was followed up by top drives from Hui and then Cheever, who managed to stay just ahead of all the drama in the closing stages.
“This is a hard-earned team result and I couldn’t be more proud,” said Hui. We maximised our opportunities today and executed a clean race against 16 other formidable competitors in the Bronze Cup. We look forward to keeping the momentum going and working towards getting back to the top step.”
Right in the middle of the drama was Henriques Chaves in the #188 McLaren. After great stints by Prette and then Ramos, the #188 pitted to collect Chaves for the run to the flag. Unfortunately, the team was severely delayed by a neighbouring team, losing 30 seconds in the process. This was enough to drop the #188 from first in class all the way back to fifth so Chaves had a fight on his hands.
Throughout the closing stages of the race he fought tooth and nail with a Bronze class Mercedes and BMW, trading places multiple times before contact with the Mercedes meant that he had to settle for fourth in class.
“That stint was a real rollercoaster,” said Chaves. “It didn’t start well because of the pit stop so I had to go full attack to get us to the best position possible. Unfortunately, the BMW was very hard to overtake and the Mercedes also put up a great fight. It’s a shame as everything went so well until that final pit stop and it’s frustrating when you know you have the pace to win but something goes wrong. We are fully focused on Ricard now (the next endurance round) as that is an important race where we can score a lot of points. We have the pace to win, we just need to make sure we execute everything perfectly. We are a strong team and I know we can do it.”