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AL-MANAR RACING’S ENGEL, STOLZ AND SCHILLER DEPRIVED OF ENDURANCE CUP VICTORY BY TIME PENALTY IN BARCELONA

The Al-Manar Racing by Getspeed trio of Maro Engel, Luca Stolz, Fabian Schiller rounded off their campaign for honours in the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS Endurance Cup with a stunning performance in the Pro Cup category in the three-hour race on the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya in Spain

The trio looked set for a superb victory until race officials awarded the crew a five-second time penalty for a track incident that caused a collision earlier in the race. The resultant time loss on the yellow-flag interrupted season’s finale dropped the crew down to fourth

The trio had started the race from a similar position on the grid and Engel took the wheel for the first stint. He moved up to third on the opening lap and retained the final podium position for the remainder of his one-hour stint before Schiller took the wheel for the second session

The driver changeover was a good one and the German quickly hit the front and headed into the 30th lap with a slender advantage over the pole-winning AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3. Schiller increased his lead through the stint and handed over to Stolz with a lead over Ferrari driver Robert Shwartzman

Stolz retained an advantage over Nicklas Nielsen of more than six seconds after 62 laps with just over an hour to run. He kept his cool and maintained his pace during the stint to reach the chequered flag just clear of Nielsen in the AF Corse Ferrari

But the time penalty had been imposed and the timings were amended at the race finish, with victory going to the AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3, crewed by Alessio Rovera, Shwartzman and Nielsen

The second AF Corse Ferrari finished second in the hands of Antonio Fuoco, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon, while the Rutronik Porsche of Thomas Preining, Laurin Heinrich and Dennis Olsen moved up to third at the expense of the Al-Manar Racing Mercedes

Despite starting the race from eighth of the Pro Cup cars, the AKKODIS ASP Team Mercedes trio of Raffaele Marciello, Timur Boguslavskiy and Jules Gounon finished fifth and secured the Fanatec GT World Challenge powered by AWS Endurance Cup title. Their closest title rivals, Philipp Eng, Marco Wittmann and Nick Yelloly, finished a lowly 10th in a Rowe Racing BMW

The Al-Manar Racing trio took part in both of Friday’s optional practice sessions, the crew finishing seventh in the Pro Cup category in both stints. The fastest laps fell to Team WRT’s Valentino Rossi, Augusto Farfus and Maxime Martin in the opener and to the AF Corse Ferrari of Daniel Serra, Davide Rigon and Antonio Fuoco in the second one

Saturday morning’s free practice session saw Team WRT’s second BMW M4 GT3 set the fastest lap of 1min 39.888sec in the hands of Dries Vanthoor, Sheldon van der Linde and Charles Weerts. The Al-Manar Racing crew were classified in eighth with a best tour of 1min 40.401sec

The pre-qualifying session was a totally different story and the Al-Manar Racing trio had the Mercedes dialled in and set the fastest lap of 1min 41.075sec to beat Pro Cup rivals, Lorenzo Ferrari, Thomas Drouet and Maximilian Götz, by 0.029sec. The series-leading Marciello, Boguslavskiy and Gounon were fourth

With the three qualifying sessions combined, Engel, Stolz and Schiller qualified the Al-Manar Racing Mercedes in fourth, with pole falling to the AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3, crewed by Rovera, Shwartzman and Nielsen

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