The first race of the GT4 European Series Northern Cup at the Nürburgring was dominated by the #8 Ekris Motorsport Ekris M4 GT4 of Max Koebolt and Ricardo van der Ende. The Silver Cup winners led from start to finish, crossing the line with a ten second lead after one hour of racing. Giuseppe Ghezzi clinched the AM title by winning his class in the opening race of the weekend, while the Pro-AM title will be decided tomorrow.
Pole setter Max Koebolt kept his cool as the 37 cars went into the first corner. The Ekris Motorsport driver came out on top and was able to pull away from the #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4 of Csaba Mor. Mor was unable to attack the Dutchman, as he saw the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of William Moore and the #34 RYS Team KISKA KTM X-Bow GT4 of Mads Siljehaug closing in rapidly.
With Mor, Moore and Siljehaug battling for second place, Koebolt was able to pull out a six-second lead. Marioneck’s KTM X-Bow GT4, however, suffered damage and he soon dropped out of the fight for second place. Marioneck’s day got even worse when he was handed a drive-through penalty after contact.
Still separated by six seconds, Koebolt and Moore came into the pits after they had completed 14 laps. Their teammates Ricardo van der Ende and Matt Nicoll-Jones came out in the exact same order and almost the same gap remained between the Ekris and the Aston Martin. On his second lap out of the pit, Nicoll-Jones lost six seconds in sector two, but despite the mishap the Academy Motorsport Aston remained in second place.
After 28 laps Van der Ende crossed the line to win the first race of the weekend for Ekris Motorsport, with Nicoll-Jones finishing in second place, ten seconds behind the Ekris M4 GT4. The #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4 of Csaba Mor and Finlay Hutchison finished in third place, 19 seconds behind the race winning Ekris. Street Art Racing and RYS Team InterNetX completed the overall and Silver Cup top five.
In Pro-AM the race was won by the #4 Energy by ART Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 of Alain Ferté and Grégoire Demoustier. Ferté took the lead early in the race, ahead of the #54 RYS Team Pankl KTM X-Bow GT4. During the pit stops the #222 TFT Racing Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 of Ander Vilarino and Niki Leutwiler passed the KTM to take second. Vilarino tried to pass Demoustier, but was unable to do so and finished 0.334s behind the Energy by ART driver.
Las Moras Racing drivers Duncan Huisman and Luc Braams scored some valuable points in the fight for the Pro-AM title, finishing in third place, ahead of main rival Razvan Umbrarescu. The #9 McLaren 570S GT4 finished almost four seconds behind the class winner, with the #111 Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 finishing a couple of tenths behind in fourth. Allied Racing driver Jan Kasperlik retired early in the race. Going into the final race, the gap between Umbrarescu and Huisman/Braams is just two points.
Giuseppe Ghezzi claimed victory in the AM class and won the 2017 AM title. The Autorlando Sport driver and teammate Manuele Mengozzi initially ran in second place, behind the #21 Allied Racing Porsche of Nikolaus Schelle and Joachim Bölting, but moved into the lead during the pit window. After completing 28 laps Mengozzi crossed the line in first place, 26.400s ahead of the PROsport Performance Porsche. In the final corner on the final lap, Scuderia Villorba Corse driver Romy Dall’Antonio hit the #11 SIN R1 GT4 of Ivan Vlachkov, which resulted in a spin for the SIN and a third place for Dall’Antonia. After the race, Dall’Antonia was given a penalty, which demoted him to fourth. As a result, Ghezzi now has a 28-point lead with just one race and 25 points to go.
Ricardo van der Ende and Max Koebolt finished the GT4 European Series Northern Cup season on a high with their second win of the weekend at the Nürburgring. The Ekris Motorsport drivers made no mistakes and controlled the race from start to finish. Duncan Huisman and Luc Braams claimed the Pro-AM title after main rival Umbrarescu failed to finish.
“It really went well and we ended the GT4 European Series Northern Cup with a perfect score,” said Koebolt. “Double pole, double race win. We’ve really shown why we are the champions. I wasn’t pushing in order not to destroy my tires before the end of the race, but it wasn’t cruising either. Now onto Barcelona!”
After an incident-free first round yesterday, there was drama in the final race today. The front runners made it into the Mercedes-Arena without any issues, but behind them things went wrong. One of the victims was the #111 RN Vision STS Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 of Razvan Umbrarescu and Hendrik Still. The Porsche suffered severe damage to the left-hand side door and the team was forced to retire the car in the pit lane.
The safety car was deployed and on track for about ten minutes, before the race was restarted and Van der Ende could try to pull away from the #62 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Matt Nicoll-Jones again. Nicoll-Jones himself then came under attack from the #144 GenerationAMR SuperRacing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Matthew George and before the pit window opened George passed Nicoll-Jones. The British youngster, however, was unable to close the gap to Van der Ende.
After the pit stops Koebolt rejoined right in front of George’s team mate James Holder, who was subsequently passed by Academy Motorsport driver Will Moore. The #74 RYS Team TrueRacing KTM X-Bow GT4 of Laura Kraihamer initially moved into third overall, before she was overtaken by Alain Ferté in the #4 Energy by ART Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 right before the end of the race.
Koebolt controlled the race and saved his tires, finishing 4.636s clear of Will Moore after 27 laps and completing an Ekris Motorsport clean sweep. Kraihamer finished third in Silver, ahead of the #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4 and the #14 RYS Team KTM and #64 RYS Team InterNetX KTM X-Bow GT4s. Nicoll-Jones and Moore finished the season second in class, passing Lennart Marioneck in the standings in the final race of the season.
The three-way battle for the Pro-AM title was turned into a two-way fight very early on. Five Pro-AM cars were involved in accidents on the opening lap, with the #111 RN Vision STS Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 of Razvan Umbrarescu retiring on lap two. That mean Braams and Huisman only had to finish to win the title.
The #4 Energy by ART Porsche, which was in 13th place by the time the pit window opened, gradually made its way up through the field. Alain Ferté quickly passed several other drivers and moved into the lead on lap 20. By then Luc Braams was fourth in class, but two laps from the end he passed the GenerationAMR SuperRacing Aston Martin to take third place. Schwede Motorsport drivers Rudolf Schulte and Dominik Schraml scored a second-place finish in only their second race in the series.
With Umbrarescu not scoring any points and Jan Kasperlik finishing in seventh place, the podium finish was more than enough for the Las Moras Racing drivers to pass Umbrarescu in the championship and claim the title. Umbrarescu finishes the season as runner-up, with Kasperlik taking third place.
In the AM class Autorlando Sport had just one target after securing the drivers’ title for Giuseppe Ghezzi yesterday and that was getting Manuele Mengozzi into second place in the championship. Mengozzi had qualified the #76 Porsche 911 GT4 on pole position and the Italian pairing finished the race 11.104s clear of the second placed #21 Allied Racing Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4 of Nikolaus Schelle and Joachim Bölting. Ivan Vlachkov finished on the podium with the #11 SIN R1 GT4, while Scuderia Villorba Corse’s Manuela Gostner finished in fourth place.
As Romy Dall’Antonia and Giuseppe Fascicolo retired on the opening lap, the win for Ghezzi and Mengozzi means Mengozzi jumps to second in the final rankings, with Gostner finishing the season third in class.