The Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS season continued this weekend with the second Sprint Cup event of the season. After securing their first podium finish by taking third at Brands Hatch earlier this month, Miguel Ramos and Dean Macdonald were focused on moving up the podium steps. In Race 1 they did just that, taking the Pro-Am victory after starting on pole position for the first of the two, one-hour sprint races at Magny Cours. They followed this up in Race 2 with another podium finish, this time in third place.
Despite showing great pace again in the #159 McLaren 720S GT3, Manuel Maldonado and Ethan Simioni finished shy of the Silver Cup podium in fifth and sixth places for the two races.
Miguel Ramos put his marker down during Qualifying 1 on Saturday, grabbing the Pro-Am pole position for the #188 McLaren, while Maldonado had to settle for seventh in the super competitive Silver Cup class for the #159 car.
When Race 1 got underway on Saturday evening, both Ramos and Maldonado had good starts. It was a refreshingly uneventful race for the team who delivered well executed pit stops at the half way point as Macdonald and Simioni joined the fight. Simioni was able to bring the #159 McLaren home in an improved sixth position in class and Macdonald took the #188 to the line to secure the first victory of the season for Garage 59!
Qualifying 2 on Sunday morning got the day off to a great start when Macdonald delivered some sensational lap times, running as high as second overall at one point. At the end of the session he had secured the second Pro-Am pole position of the weekend and an incredible fifth place overall. Simioni took the #159 McLaren to its best qualifying spot of the season so far, taking fourth in the Silver Cup class, so both cars were set for a good race.
Ahead of Race 2 getting underway on Sunday, Macdonald received a penalty for impeding another car during Qualifying 2. It was an unintentional error but Dean apologised to the competitor and took his punishment on the chin, losing three grid positions.
At the start of Race 2 Macdonald was hit in the rear by the #46 Audi of Fred Vervisch, forcing the Scot to make a precautionary pit stop. The team soon got him on his way again but he was right down the order. He recovered to third in class before handing over to Ramos, who had to take evasive action leaving the pits when the #33 Audi nearly broadsided him! The Audi was subsequently penalised for an unsafe release. Ramos took the chequered flag in third place, adding another trophy to the collection.
This weekend’s results also mean that Miguel Ramos now leads the standings for the GT World Challenge Europe Pro-Am drivers
“Overall I am very happy with the weekend we had and the pace we were able to show,” said Macdonald. “The car feels great and we are constantly improving as a team. It was great to finally get our first win of the season and to show that we had the fastest McLaren on the grid, which shows what a great job Garage 59 are doing. Of course I am a bit disappointed with the Race 2 result as we were in a good position to fight for a win again in this race but having contact from behind at the start hindered that. My main focus now is on the next round at Zandvoort where we will be pushing very hard for more wins and pole positions. Thank you to Garage 59 and Miguel for a great weekend once again; everyone did an amazing job!”
In the #159 McLaren, Ethan Simioni made a great start and gained a class position, which put him third. Unfortunately the car dropped to fourth at the pit stops when the #87 Mercedes pitted earlier and made good use of a clear track in front. Maldonado continued the fight and crossed the line fifth in class.
It's the turn of the Endurance Cup squads next as the GT World Challenge Europe heads to Le Castellet in France for the Paul Ricard 1000kms on 5th June.