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Calan Triumphs in GT Worlds

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Posted on November 23, 2023 Tags:

Abu Dhabi hosts F1 this weekend

Jack Doohan is Back in Action at Yas Marina

And the Williams Family celebrate their Champion

It was also Calan’s first season of GT racing at the highest level, capping off an extraordinary and incredible year for the 22-year-old young man from Edgewater.  

Zandvoort is Tough to Master

Calan and his partner had led most of the season in their BMW M4 GT3, before two unfortunate incidents at Valencia, Spain.

The pair began the final Sprint Cup round at Zandvoort with a six-point deficit to the Audi of Panis and Di Folco, and 11 points behind in the overall Championship standings.

Conditions were bleak and cold for Saturday morning’s first qualifying session but both drivers were boosted by their strong performance in the wet through Friday’s practice.

Niklas was first up for Qualy 1 and performed strongly to place the ir magnificent BMW machinery in P17 overall in the 25-car field, and P2 in the Gold class. The Audi of rivals Panis and Di Folco was behind in P4 of the Gold class, and P21 overall.

Niklas and Calan Start Strongly

When the pit window opened, both cars boxed at the same time. Niklas and Calan performed a swift driver change and the WRT mechanics demonstrated why they are regarded as the best in the world.

As Calan sped away from the pits, he exited immediately in front of the Audi of Di Folco to take the lead for the Gold class, finishing P10 overall, and P1 Gold with the Audi in P2 Gold on track.

But in a twist of fate, Calan and Niklas received a five sec penalty for a restart infringement while the Audi also received a 10 sec penalty for causing a collision.

By day’s end Calan and Niklas was P2 Gold, with the Audi P4 and the lead of Panis and Di Folco cut to just 1.5 points heading into Sunday’s final race.

Daniel recalls Zandvoort all too well

Zandvoort is never an easy circuit to overtake on and can be difficult to navigate (just ask the luckless fellow Aussie Daniel Ricciardo who broke his wrist here in the Dutch F1 Grand Prix).

With around seven minutes to go, and the track improving all the time, Calan delivered a strong first push lap, moving him up to 6th overall. The next was even better taking the team to P1, to the strong approval of the WRT garage.

Calan improved further in the first sector, but then his Engineer made a shrewd call to have his charge backing off to avoid the subsequent drama of catching slower cars.

He then nailed that following lap again, putting himself back in P1 again. Only to be pipped by WRT teammate Maxime Martins by 0.04 sec.

Calan’s First Front Row Start

The mighty WRT BMW M4 GT3 leads at Zandvoort!

And this weekend, the Formula One spectacle heads to the magnificent Yas Marina for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of tan ambitious 2023 calendar.

he Mighty

Calan got away to a good start in the race but was held out on the outside into Turn 1. Both cars in front of him lost control at separate corners, running wide and the Aussie overtook them both.

He then settled into the race well – in outright P3 (P1 Gold) – and started pulling a gap on P4 behind.

Zandvoort: Where Dreams Come True

2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Round 10 // Sprint Cup Zandvoort (Netherlands) – October 13th – 15th, 2023 Photo: Michele Scudiero Photography

And, Winners are Grinners!

2023 Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Round 10 // Sprint Cup Zandvoort (Netherlands) – October 13th – 15th, 2023 Photo: Michele Scudiero Photography

On slick tyres, in extremely difficult conditions, Calan made it safely through to take the lead of the race and pull away slightly before an accident further behind instigated a full course yellow, allowing the field to slow in formation with Calan leading the race outright.

After a smart driver change, Niklas went out and did a brilliant job finally bringing the car home in a strong P3 position overall – and P1 Gold.

After a Fascinating Vegas, it’s back to Normality

The Absolute Masterpiece that is Abu Dhabi

•             Lewis Hamilton is the most successful driver on five wins in Abu Dhabi, followed by Max Verstappen and Sebastian Vettel (on three wins each). Mercedes and Red Bull are the most successful teams, with six wins each.

•             Nearly all the drivers started last year’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the medium tyres. The top three finishers – in order, Max Verstappen, Charles Leclerc and Sergio Perez – all stopped just once to put on the hard tyre, between laps 16 and 21.

Yas Island, Abu Dhabi Emirate, United Arab Emirates

Of course, this is winter in Abu Dhabi, but those desert winds and that pesky sand s drifting across the track always pose an additional headache for drivers.

Yas Marina Circuit features 16 corners

Abu Dhabi Circuit is a Work of Art

•             The Yas Marina lap consists of 16 corners as well as some faster sections, including a 1.2-kilometre straight between turns 5 and 6. The track modifications that took place in 2021 shortened the lap to 5.28 kilometres.

That’s the same choice as last year, and also an identical selection to that seen at Las Vegas confirmation, Pirelli says, of the versatility of the current compounds.

Pirelli’s usual Test Day follows Grand Prix

However, perhaps for the first time, there are no new compounds to try out: the FIA recently communicated that the 2024 compounds will be the same as this year. The only change being that there are now five rather than six available of them, due to the elimination of the C0 (which was never used during a race weekend this year).

So, the test could be helpful for the teams to work on tyre management by gathering data for next season.

Haas is the first team to announce its lineup, with F2 star Oliver Bearman and the team’s long-time reserve driver Pietro Fittipaldi set to run in the tyre and Young Driver tests.

The magnificent Yas Marina circuit will host Formula One for the 15th time this weekend, and 11 of those have marked the final race of a very long and diverse season.

The teams will have a predetermined tyre allocation for the test.

The car doing the tyre work has 10 sets available at the test, consisting of one C1, one C2, two C5, and three sets each of C4 and C3.

Abu Dhabi – F2’s 2023 Final Shootout

Each driver has led the Championship at one stage during the 2023 campaign, each has had at least one pole position and a Feature Race victory apiece, but who will be the big winner come the chequered flag on Sunday?

Aussie Jack Doohan sits fourth in the standings on 138 and is too far behind to take the title. The son of five-time Moto GP World Champion Mick Doohan, Jack has had an up-and-down season in his second year in F2.

Jack is an exceptional driver, whose luck just hasn’t gone his way in 2023.

Théo leads the way on 191 points, 25 points clear of Frederik with the Dane in second, on 166.

Ayumu Iwasa is holding out a slender hope of overturning a 39-point deficit to the ART Grand Prix driver, currently on 152 and needing a full score to stand any chance of taking the title away from his rivals, banking on Théo as exceptional longshot and taking nothing from this weekend.

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