AF Corse Ferrari duo Ulysse de Pauw and Pierre-Alexandre Jean took a narrow win in the first of the two races at the opening weekend of the sprint segment of the GTWCE.
De Pauw led from pole position in their Ferrari 488 GT3, a Silver Cup class entry, prior to a short safety-car period following a first-corner accident.
The Belgian then built up a lead of more than three seconds over the chasing Auto Sport Promotion Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jules Gounon.
Jean emerged from the pit cycle with a similar lead over the WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II that Dries Vanthoor had taken over from Charles Weerts.
Jean’s advantage was halved when he was held up by a backmarker and Vanthoor was able to close to within seven tenths of the Ferrari at the start of the final.
But the Audi never got close enough to make a bid for the lead, before crossing the line 1.2s in arrears of the Ferrari.
It was the first outright victory for a Ferrari since the 2015 round of a championship then known as the Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup at Misano when Norbert Siedler and Marco Seefried triumphed in a Rinaldi Racing-run 458 GT3.
Raffaele Marciello had picked up the mantle for the French ASP Merc squad after the sister car lost vital seconds changing the left rear in the pits when Gounon handled over to Jim Pla.
Marciello, who had taken over the car from Timur Boguslavskiy, was a couple of seconds down on Vanthoor after the pitstops but was able to close to within four tenths of the Audi at the chequered flag. The ASP Merc of Gounon and Jim Pla ended up fourth, seven seconds off the winner, after its delay in the pits.
#89 AKKODIS ASP Team Mercedes-AMG GT3: Timur Boguslavskiy, Raffaele Marciello
Photo by: SRO
ASP Mercedes ease to victory in second race
Marciello anchored a comfortable win for himself and Boguslavskiy in race two.
The Italian raced away from pole position into a clear lead over Patric Niederhauser’s Sainteloc Audi in the second of the two one-hour races, extending the advantage to more than 10s before the Swiss driver ducked into the pits for its mandatory change of tyres.
Boguslavskiy emerged from the pitstop cycle with more than nine seconds in hand over Weerts in the lead WRT entry and the ASP driver was able to maintain that advantage until easing off in the closing stages to take the win by 6.5s.
Gounon edged towards the WRT Audi to finish only a couple of tenths down in third position.
The Car Collection Audi of Christopher Haase and Simon Gachet took fourth ahead of race one winners De Pauw and Jean, while the Sainteloc entry Niederhauser shared with Aurelien Panis ended up sixth after losing time during the pitstop cycle, with Mattia Drudi and Luca Ghiotto taking seventh in the sister Car Collection Audi.
Bike legend Valentino Rossi claimed his first points of his 2022 GTWCE campaign in race two with eighth place in the WRT Audi he shared with Frederic Vervisch.