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Podium for Calan at Monza!

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Posted on April 27, 2023

Calum (right) with teammates Niklas (left) and Jean-Baptiste

Image courtesy Team WRT BMW

PERTH’S CALAN WILLIAMS hit a high note on debut in the GT World Challenge Europe last weekend with a Gold Cup podium, alongside teammates Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer and Niklas Krütten in their #30 Team WRT BMW M4 GT3.

This result follows a successful European pre-season testing program for 22-year-old Calan.

It was a stunning beginning to a new chapter in his career around Italy’s Monza, recognised among the fastest circuits on the planet.

Calan and his team were in fine form as they finished the race in 12th outright out of 55 cars, and third in the Gold Cup class.

The West Australian was strong in all stints, which included guiding the car to seventh outright and first in class during his allocated qualifying session, which ended up 15th outright and second in class.

German Niklas Krütten started for the team and executed an excellent first stint guiding the car through the hectic start and challenging safety car restarts.

After the first hour Calan took over the wheel, resuming the race around half a second in the lead of the Gold Class ahead of the Audi R8 in second place.

For the entirety of his one-hour stint, Calan led the Audi with a similar gap, while pushing on the rear of the lead group ahead, an outstanding display of consistency and pace, even more so considering his debut in this category.


In the back half of the session, Calan had to manage the tyres and this would continue to be the case for Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Simminaeur in the final stint.

Jean-Baptiste put in a strong performance to bring the car home on P3, 15 secs behind the leader and less than one second behind the strong-charging McLaren which had demonstrated very quick pace throughout the lap.

The WRT team ended up losing a place by just one second during the 77-lap race, but still comfortably secured the class podium.

Tassie pilot’s miraculous escape

Aussies Alex Peroni (above, right) and Ricky Capo also debuted in GT World Challenge Europe, but WRT team fared best while Ricky also got on the Silver Cup podium alongside Italian Fabrizio Crestani and Brit Sam Neary.

Tasmanian racer Alex, you might recall, emerged virtually unscathed when his F3 became airborne during the 2019 Italian F1 Grand Prix at this very same track.

It was a disappointing start to the year for Alex and his teammates Patrick Assenheimer and Florian Scholze in the GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 after qualified in 51st but crashed out on the opening lap.

Ricky Capo was also key in qualifying as the 27-year-old helped his team put the GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO 2 on pole for the class.

 #GoCalan #MotorDesk #CalanWilliams #GTWorldChallenge #TeamWRT #Motorsport

WRT is the BMW works-supported team for the GT World Challenge, running BMW M4 GT3 cars.

Belgium-based, WRT is a benchmark team in world endurance racing winning an extraordinary 55 titles since their establishment in 2009 and is considered one of the strongest GT teams worldwide. 

GT World Challenge contestants tackle five endurance events of 3-hours or longer, including the iconic 24 hours of Spa, and five sprint events.

Calan is competing in the full series program in the team’s Gold car BMW M4, partnering Jean-Baptiste for the endurance races and Niklas Krütten for the Sprints.

“WRT are an incredibly professional team, and the environment within the team is perfect for my transition into endurance racing.  Their professionalism and approach prove why they are so successful.

“It’s a great privilege to be competing with one of the world’s greatest manufacturers in the BMW M4 GT3 –  a car which has, quite rightly, become one of the most recognisable race cars in the world.

“BMW provide huge levels of support to the team, and the infrastructure and technology that both WRT and BMW bring to the track is unbelievable.

“I’ve been putting in heaps of preparation and I‘m ready to tackle this new step in my career.  While I‘m confident in myself, I‘m also open-minded and looking forward to the new challenges presented by endurance racing.” Calan Williams.

Proud Dad Greg Williams with Calan at Monza.

“A great start to the season and thanks to team WRT, Niklas and JB for the weekend and I can’t wait for the next one,” said Calan after the race.

“Obviously, finishing on the podium is nice but I think we had the potential for more.

“From my side, I still have a bit of work to do, in terms of race pace management, and that will be my priority going into the next races.”

The GT World Challenge Europe returns June 3-4 with the Circuit Paul Ricard 1000km in France, while the European Le Mans resumes July16 with the 4-Hours of Le Castellet – also at the famed Paul Ricard layout.

Jordan and Tony’s Mighty Merc

Meanwhile Jordan Love, yet another classy Perth racer, is back home for this weekend’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Australia, a support category to the Perth SuperSprint round at Raceway, Wanneroo.

Check the Supercars schedule below:

Jordan, the recently announced Mercedes-AMG Junior Driver, teams up with Tony Bates Racing and will co-pilot the #24 Mercedes-AMG GT3, in the Pro-Am class.

Series drivers contest two 60-minute races across the weekend. The action begins early on Friday with the first practice session at 09:15am (AWST), followed by a second session at midday.

Qualifying takes place at 08:50am Saturday as the drivers battle it out for grid position for the opening race, scheduled for 12:25pm.

The second race and final GT action starts 10:15am Sunday.

“I’m really looking forward to this. It’s great for me to get the chance to race back in my hometown, at a circuit that I’m really familiar with.

“I’m sure this weekend is going to bring back a lot of memories.

“I know I’ve got a great teammate in Tony and I’m excited to be partnering with him for this race.

“I’m confident that we’ll have the pace to challenge with our Mercedes-AMG GT3 so I’m optimistic about our chances this weekend.” Jordan Love.

Jordan has confirmed he will race alongside British teammate Frank Bird to contest the entire Sprint Cup season in the Silver Cup classification Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, driving the #77 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Haupt Racing Team.

The duo form a familiar partnership, both already having competed for Haupt Racing Team last season.

They will be looking to battle it out for championship points when the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup begins at Brands Hatch May 13-14.

Baku, Azerbaijan

With Formula One returning this weekend for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix after a three-week break the jury’s still out on the true value of F1 sprint races.

Introduced in 2021 as a way of qualifying for the main grand prix, the sprint has morphed in 2023 as a standalone Saturday race with its own qualifying, eight championship points awarded the winner, and no affect on Sunday’s race.

For the Azerbaijan Grand Prix Pirelli has nominated the same three compounds used for these races last year. 

On the Baku street circuit, the teams have at their disposal the C3 as P Zero White hard, C4 as P Zero Yellow medium and C5 as P Zero Red soft.

According to Pirelli F1 guru Mario Isola, this is the softest trio of compounds in Pirelli’s range, which are well suited to the tight corners on this city circuit as well as the long straights where the cars reach a maximum speed of 340kph.

The most common strategy for the Azerbaijan Grand Prix is a one-stopper, although some teams stopped twice last year to take advantage of a virtual safety car before the chequered flag. The race was held at the beginning of June in 2022, with thermal degradation becoming a factor due to the high asphalt temperature.

2023 Sprints standalone races on Saturdays

And the Azerbaijan Grand Prix has the dubious privilege of hosting the first of six sprint races this season.

Practice and qualifying for Sunday’s race now happens on the Friday.

Therefore, a crash in the F1 sprint race — which you might recall happened to AlphaTauri’s Pierre Gasly in 2022 — will no longer affect the competitor’s starting position for the grand prix on Sunday.

The F1 sprints have been around since 2021 and have previously been a short race to establish the grid for the grand prix on Sunday.

However, this season the sprint is a standalone race, with its own qualification and will have no effect on Sunday’s main event.

F1 announced a new format for this year’s six weekends with sprint races Saturday, and the qualifying sessions, happening in “one, action-packed day.”

The State of Play in 2023

* From this weekend, the sprint race will be contested over 100 kilometres (one-third of the grand prix distance), while the qualifying session will be shorter.

* All drivers are on medium tyres for the first qualifying session, lasting 12 minutes.

* The slowest five are eliminated before the second round – again on medium tyres – for 10 minutes.

* Then the fastest 10 drivers from that session compete in a third round – on soft tyres – lasting just eight minutes.

* Championship points are on offer for the top-eight drivers, with eight points to the winner down to one point for eighth place.

Austria, Belgium, Qatar, the United States (Austin) and Sao Paulo, Brazil are the other race weekends hosting a sprint on the Saturday.

And that’s the state of play right now!


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