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Oct 15, 2023

VSR just shy of podium in Sprint finale

Fanatec GT World Challenge by AWS, Sprint Cup – Zandvoort

The final round of the 2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge by AWS Sprint Cup took place at Zandvoort this weekend. VSR entered a Pro car for Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli (number 60) and a Silver Cup car for Maximilian Paul and Marcus Paverud (number 163).

Both Free Practice and Pre-Qualifying were run in the wet with Caldarelli setting the second fastest time overall in the last session. It was dry and windy for Saturday’s qualifying when Caldarelli and Paverud took to the track. Caldarelli claimed a spot on the second row and Paverud was the third quickest Silver Cup car. A short sharp shower as the cars went to the grid left the track slippery for race one and despite an extra formation lap several cars skated off track. Caldarelli moved up to third, passing Heinrich on the second racing lap, just before the Safety Car came on track for Demoustier’s crash. Racing went green again on lap seven with less that ten minutes to go to the pit window. Heinrich repassed Caldarelli then just as the pit window opened the VSR Lambo was pushed off track by Neiderhauser, sustaining damage to the right hand side. Paverud, running third in class, pitted as soon as the window opened and Paul took over the 163 car. Caldarelli stopped for Mapelli two laps later and as the pit window closed the Safety Car was once more out on track. The race resumed with just ten minutes left to go. Caldarelli moved up from eleventh to eighth whilst Paul was hit by Eteki and slipped down to fourth in class.  

The track was wet but drying for Sunday morning’s qualifying session. Paul opted to do both his runs on slicks whilst Mapelli swapped from wets to slicks halfway through. With the track drying quickly during the final minutes it was all about who took the chequered flag last. Mapelli was one of the first to cross the line and ended up fifteenth. Paul’s final lap was ruined when the GSM car span right in front of him but his penultimate time was still good enough for fourth in class. Race two started on an almost completely dry track and Mapelli made a great start, moving up to twelfth place. The Safety Car was on track on lap four while debris from several crashed cars was cleaned up and when the track went green Mapelli gained another spot, passing Hutchinson whilst Paul was hit once again by Eteki. A lap later heavy rain soaked the track and the pit window was opened under Full Course Yellow conditions. Mapelli and Paul stopped at the end of the window and Paul got delayed in the bust pit-lane. At the restart there were just over twenty minutes left of the race. Calderelli was running eighth and Paverud fifth in Silver Cup battling over the final podium spot with Guidetti and Mariangeli. On lap seventeen Caldarelli passed Kjaergaard and two laps later made a move on Love and gained a further place when Rossi ran wide. As the race entered the final minutes Paverud passed Guidetti for fourth in class and on the same lap Caldarelli wrested fourth from Lappelainen’s Ferrari to take VSR’s best finish of a challenging campaign. Paverud got ahead of Mariangeli but the Ferrari driver took the place back and then pushed the VSR car off track to remain ahead.  

VSR’s season continues with the final round of the Italian GT Sprint Championship at Imola in a fortnight.