Huber Racing driver Johannes Kapfinger has been crowned GT Winter Series champion for the 2022/2023 season in a dramatic title decision in Barcelona. The top three of the championship come from three different classes.
The situation before the final rounds
Simon Connor Primm travelled to Barcelona as the leader of the standings. With his Mercedes-AMG GT4, Primm scored 112.46 points in the first five race weekends. This gave him an 11.71-point lead over Huber Racing ace Johannes Kapfinger. Only one point behind the Cup Porsche drivers were Andreas Greiling and Jens Richter, who dominate the Cup 3 class with their Porsche Cayman. Michael Kapfinger, Johannes’ twin brother, also had a theoretical chance of winning the title.
In the first qualifying session of the season finale, in which 48 GT cars were entered, BMW works driver Dan Harper burned a superior best time into the Spanish asphalt. Michael Joos and Kenneth Heyer followed with a respectable gap of more than 1.5 seconds to the young Briton, who was at his most well-rested early on Sunday morning. Kenneth Heyer set the fastest time in the second qualifying segment ahead of Joos and Manuel Lauck in the Huber Racing GT3 Porsche, thus securing pole position for the second race round on Sunday afternoon.
Joos wins Sprint 1
Michael Joos wins the first GT Winter Series sprint race at the season finale in Barcelona. The Porsche 911 GT3 R driver quickly moved into the lead from second on the grid and left Schubert Motorsport driver Darren Leung standing with his BMW M4 GT3. Leung was quickly overtaken by his other GT3 rivals. Due to collisions in the large starting field, race director Werner Aichinger had to call the safety car onto the course twice, but even this did not upset Joos. It was the fourth win of the season in the GTWS for the experienced Porsche driver and team boss. Joos won in front of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Kenneth Heyer. Johannes Kapfinger drove to third overall in the Huber Racing Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and, more importantly, the youngster won the Cup 2 class, further reducing the lead of championship leader Simon Connor Primm. The Mercedes driver only finished the race in fourth position in the GT4 class, which was won by Pavel Lefterov in the Overdrive Racing Porsche.
KTM show in the second sprint
The man of the second race was former ChampCar driver Ronnie Bremer from Denmark. Right at the start, Bremer stormed to the front in his KTM X-BOW GT2 from fifth position. No GT3 driver was able to stop the forward momentum of the car from Austria on the straight and Bremer literally flew past the competitors. Due to the concept, the GT3 aces were also unable to work their way past the KTM in the race. The car was slower in the corners, but was able to reach higher top speeds on the long straights of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, which prevented the KTM from being overtaken. Second place went to AMG ace Kenneth Heyer, who was only 0.269 seconds ahead of Michael Joos after a late safety car restart.
Things got exciting in the title fight. Johannes Kapfinger had to start from the back of the field after he was stripped of laps in qualifying for track limit offences. The Huber Racing Porsche ploughed through the field in a 25-minute sprint to finish third in the Cup 2 class, which was won by his twin brother Michael Kapfinger ahead of Phoenix Racing driver Matteo Ferrer. But the race was not without problems for the CV Performance Mercedes-AMG GT4 either. Jan Philipp Springob, who contested the second race, found himself in tough duels and multiple battles with other GT4 cars throughout the race. A few laps before the end the shock came when the car with the starting number #85 was hit by a Cup Porsche in the turmoil and was forced into the gravel bed. Miraculously, the AMG survived the collision undamaged, but still lost a lot of time and could only finish the race in eighth place in class. Winning the GT4 class was Razoon driver Leo Pichler, in the first race outing for the team’s new Porsche.
Kapfinger takes title
All eyes were on the title decision at the Endurance race. Besides the two main protagonists Simon Connor Primm and Johannes Kapfinger, who were only separated by 0.99 points, the Cayman duo Andreas Greiling and Jens Richter still had outsider chances to win the title. Already in the first corner it became dramatic in the title fight. Simon Connor Primm had to leave the track and hit a sausage curb, causing damage to the front splitter. After the driver change, Jan Philipp Springob lost the splitter completely and had to park the AMG GT4 in the pits – the end for the championship leaders! This cleared the way for Johannes Kapfinger. Second place in the Cup 2 classification is enough for the reigning champion in the Open GT Class 40 of the Porsche Sports Cup Suisse to win the title in the GT Winter Series! With another superior class win in the Cup 3 class, even Greiling and Richter can still overtake Simon Connor Primm in the overall standings and thus enjoy second place in the championship. The disappointment, on the other hand, was written all over Primm’s face after the end of the race; winning the title had been the youngster’s big goal.
Huber Racing celebrates overall victory
Christoph Huber’s Porsche racing team was not only able to celebrate winning the title in the Endurance race, but also took the overall victory! After one hour of racing, the 911 GT3 R of the Bavarian team of Jörg Dreisow and GT3 ace Manuel Lauck was classified in first position. Although Michael Joos saw the chequered flag first, he received a 25-second time penalty for overtaking a car on the start-finish straight after the safety car phase had been called, causing him to slip to third position. Earlier, Joos and Lauck showed GT3 racing at its best in the battle for victory. Joos knocked on the rear of the Huber Porsche several times was able to push past his rival after a lap-long battle, but Michael Joos’ hard work ultimately went unrewarded by the penalty. Kenneth Heyer finished second in the équipe vitesse Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In the Cup 2 class, as at the season opener in Portimao, the PTT Racing Porsche of Mateusz Lisoswski and Igor Klaja took the class win in the Endurance race. The Polish duo prevailed ahead of champion Johannes Kapfinger. ADAC GT4 Germany drivers Pavel Lefterov and Stefan Bostandjiev took a superior victory in the GT4 class in the Porsche of the Bulgarian Overdrive team.
Promoter very satisfied with season – amazing news for the next one
“Behind us lies a successful season,” said GTWS project manager Robin Selbach. “We had starting fields that exceeded our expectations. On top of that, a title fight of three cars in the last race of the season – motorsport heart, what more do you want? But we don’t want to rest on our laurels and are already working hard on the 2023/2024 season. With the introduction of the new GT4 Winter Series, we have a new challenge ahead of us.”
The provisional race calendar for the 2023/2024 GT Winter Series season has already been finalised. The season will open in Portimao on 16 and 17 December.
Preliminary calendar 2023/2024
16/17 Dec 2023 Portimao/P
13/14 Jan 2024 Estoril/P
10/11 Feb 2024 Jerez/E
17/18 Feb 2024 Valencia/E
02/03 Mar 2024 Aragón/E
09/10 Mar 2024 Barcelona/E (tbc)