The GT4 European Series teams are raring to go and get the 2018 season underway at Zolder this weekend (April 6-8). Forty-four cars from Aston Martin, Audi, BMW, Chevrolet, Ginetta, KTM, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche have been entered for the opening round at the 4.004km long Belgian circuit, which last hosted a European GT4 round in 2011.
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Reigning GT4 European Series champions Max Koebolt and Ricardo van der Ende will be back to defend their title, albeit in different teams. Koebolt will carry the #1 on the MDM Motorsport BMW M4 GT4s he shares with Simon Knap, while Van der Ende has joined Finlay Hutchison in one of the Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4s.
MDM Motorsport is one of five teams running a BMW M4 GT4 at Zolder. A total of ten new BMW M4 GT4s have been entered, making BMW the best-represented manufacturer on the grid in Belgium. RN Vision STS will field three cars, including one for 2017 Pro-Am vice-champion Razvan Umbrarescu and one for BMW Motorsport Juniors Beitske Visser and Nico Menzel. The German brand is also represented by series newcomers 3Y Technology and Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport as well as Paolo Meloni’s W&D Racing Team.
The Phoenix Racing team will field four of the six new Audi R8 LMS GT4s at Zolder. Milan Dontje and Nicolaj Möller-Madsen will fight for Silver Cup honours, but the German squad has also entered two cars in Pro-Am and one in AM. Fellow German squad Racing One will field the two other Audi entries.
Belgian squad Selleslagh Racing Team will make their series debut and has entered three new Mercedes-AMG GT4s, including one for local driver Gregory Eyckmans. Eyckmans was born only a few kilometres from the circuit and will make his GT4 debut on home ground. Bullitt Racing, Leipert Motorsport and Lechner Racing complete the Mercedes contingent in Belgium.
Five Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MRs are set to compete at Zolder, with Allied Racing and Schwede Motorsport both running two cars this season. Porsche Zentrum Oberer Zürichsee by TFT Racing will enter a single AM entry for Niki Leutwiler. Porsche will also be represented by Italy’s Autorlando Sport, running the Porsche 997 Cup GT4. Orlando Redolfi’s squad will race in the AM category, with Giuseppe Ghezzi aiming to win the title again.
Equipe Verschuur will be running a two-car McLaren effort, with defending champion Ricardo van der Ende and Finlay Hutchison in one car and series returnee Liesette Braams in the other. Two other McLaren 570S GT4s will be entered by Germany’s Team GT, including one for popular German vlogger Felix von der Laden.
British GT champions Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton are ready to take on their European rivals in the HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4. Ginetta will have three cars on the grid, as French squad CMR has also entered two cars. The 2017 French FFSA GT Championship AM champion, Stéphane Tribaudini, will be driving one of the CMR cars.
The nimble KTM X-Bow returns to the series, with True Racing fielding two cars and InterNetX-Reiter running a single car at Zolder. 2016 GT4 European Series vice-champion Maciej Dreszer is set to return to the series with the Reiter squad.
Academy Motorsport and Street Art Racing will represent Aston Martin again this season. The British team will field two Aston Martin Vantage GT4s, while the Belgian squad will run a single entry in the Pro-Am class.
Finally, the 2017 GT4 European Series Northern Cup Pro-Am champions, Luc Braams and Duncan Huisman, return to challenge for the Pro-Am title. The Dutch duo will race a Chevrolet Camaro GT4.Rentered by V8 Racing. Former European GT4 champion Jelle Beelen will be in the team’s second car, with fellow Dutchman Wolf Nathan.
The weekend at Zolder will see the teams competing in two 60-minute races – one on Saturday, one on Sunday. In both races, there will be a mandatory pit stop and driver change between the 25th and 35th minute.
Two qualifying sessions will take place on Saturday. Qualifying 1 will decide the grid for race 1 on Saturday, while Qualifying 2 will set the grid for the second race of the weekend.
On-track action begins on Friday with two Free Practice sessions (10.50 and 15.55). Both qualifying sessions will take place on Saturday morning (10.20), followed by the first of two one-hour races at 16.45. The weekend’s final race is set to get underway Sunday at 10.55 local time.
Both races will be streamed live on tRL TV and archived for on-demand viewing.
ZOLDER SCHEDULE (Local time)
Friday, 6 April
10.50 – 11.50: Free Practice 1
15.55 – 16.55: Free Practice 2
Saturday, 7 April
10.20 – 11.10: Qualifying (20’/10’/20′)
16.45 – 17.45: Race 1
Sunday, 8 April
10.55 – 11.55: Race 2
Max Koebolt, 2017 GT4 European Series champion: “I think this season will be very competitive. GT4 is growing fast and so is the competition. The main goal for me this year is to defend my title together with Simon and MDM Motorsport. I think we have a good chance to win the championship, but we can only say that for sure after the first race in Zolder.”
Ricardo van der Ende, 2017 GT4 European Series champion: “I won the European title four times in six years, so my aim is to win the title again. Of course, it’s different being with a new team after 13 years with Ekris. It’s like meeting the in-laws for the first time. I’m extremely grateful to Ekris for allowing me to do this and to race with Finlay. I can help him improve and together we can go for the title. As for Zolder, I don’t like the circuit, but so far every race I did there I either won or finished second.”
Duncan Huisman, 2017 GT4 European Series Northern Cup Pro-Am champion: “I am really looking forward to the new European GT4 season where we will do our upmost to defend our PRO-AM championship, which Luc and won last year. For sure it won’t be as easy as last season with so many Pro-Am teams gearing up for the full season. But after very successful tests I am confident the V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R will be strong. Zolder definitely isn’t the circuit where it will be easy to overtake, so a strong qualifying result is a must. For the races our main focus will be staying out of trouble and scoring good points in both races to have a good basis for the rest of the season.”