The opening rounds of the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS Sprint Cup provided Nicolai Kjærgaard and Benjamin Goethe with the opportunity to demonstrate why they had stepped up from the Silver Cup to the Pro class this year. And they did just that!
Garage 59 ran just one McLaren 720S GT3 Evos at Brands Hatch as the team’s second Sprint Cup car is entered into the Bronze Cup and due to space restrictions at the Kent circuit, all the Bronze Cup entries sat this one out.
It was Goethe who opened proceedings by taking a Top 10 in class result in Qualifying 1 before Kjærgaard jumped in for Qualifying 2 and grabbed seventh on the grid, which was sixth in the Pro Class.
The results of Race 1 didn’t reflect the pace of both drivers, who finished 17th overall and 12th in class. Benji took the start and was muscled out of position on the opening lap, which dropped him to 16th. The reigning Silver Cup Champion kept his cool and set about picking off the cars in front to regain positions.
All that hard work was unfortunately lost during the pitstop as Benji stopped long and Nicolai jumped in to join the race in 17th position. He was soon setting purple sectors, hammering home the pace of the #159 McLaren, which would become even more apparent in Race 2.
It was Nicolai behind the wheel for the start of Race 2 and he make an clean getaway, holding on to fifth and keeping that position all the way to the pit stops, despite coming under intense pressure. A slick pit stop saw Benji join the race in fourth position. With Raffaele Marciello rapidly approaching in the #88 Mercedes, Benji wasn’t the least bit concerned as he was busy trying to work out how to get past the BMW in third place!
All too soon the hour was up and when the chequered flag fell, the #159 McLaren was in fourth place and Benji crossed the line just half a second shy of the third place podium spot.
“We’ve made big improvements in comparison to where we were at Monza,” said Goethe. “We just missed out on the podium in Race 2 as I couldn’t get past the BMW but I think it was a positive weekend for us. A big thank you to the team for working so hard on the car. We go to Paul Ricard next and hopefully onto the podium.”