HHC Motorsport’s Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton claimed victory in the second race of the GT4 European Series at Zolder on their debut weekend in the championship today. The two British drivers finished runners-up on the road, but a post-race penalty for the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 ultimately resulted in victory for the Ginetta.
The #55 Ginetta G55 GT4 started the race from pole position and Tregurtha was able to keep everyone behind into Turn 1. Patrick Zamparini stayed right behind the HHC Motorsport Ginetta, focusing on his on race rather than attacking the overall leader. The field was bunched up when one of the Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT4s stopped on the track and the safety car was deployed.
“The first win on the first weekend and I put it on pole as well, so I am really happy,” Tregurtha said. “The car felt really good. The Audi managed to get the inside of me, but I got in front again at the first corner and managed to pull a bit of a gap. When the safety car came out I thought it would be a bit harder from there, but I had a good restart. I managed my tires quite well and then handed it over to Stuart. I’ve really enjoyed it, the championship is great!”
Unfortunately soon after the race was restarted there was a collision at the Gilles Villeneuve Chicane. One of the Autorlando Sport Porsche 997 CUP GT4s hit the back of the #31 Selleslagh Mercedes of Sam Dejonghe and the resulting damage caused both cars to retire and the safety car back on track. As the incident happened just before 25th minute of the race, the race director decided to delay the opening of the pit window.
The HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 was able to hold onto the lead after the mandatory stop, but Tregurtha’s teammate now had Nicolaj Møller Madsen in the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 behind him, with Equipe Verschuur’s Ricardo van der Ende in third place and Csaba Mor in fourth overall – first in Pro-AM.
Møller Madsen, who had already set the pace in practice and qualifying, began to close the gap to the race leading Ginetta and was helped by the fact that Middleton got stuck behind one of the other Phoenix Racing Audi’s. In traffic, Middleton lost several seconds and all of a sudden the Audi was right behind the Ginetta.
With just over a minute left on the clock, Møller Madsen passed Middleton to take the lead, but at almost the exact same moment the Phoenix Racing driver was given a drive through penalty for an unsafe release. Despite crossing the line in second place, Middleton was classified as race winner, to the delight of his team on the pit wall. Møller Madsen’s penalty was converted into a 31 seconds time penalty, which meant he was ultimately classified fifth overall and fourth in class.
“We had a very clean pit stop and I got into clean air when I exited the pit lane,” Middleton explained. “I just kept pushing the car and the tires seemed to have a little more life left in them, so I kept trying to manage my pace. I knew I had to be very consistent and keep driving the way I was.
“Traffic allowed the #5 Audi that was chasing me down to close up quite a lot. He was trying hard, he had the pace but as soon as he got past I received the call that he would get a penalty. That allowed us to just cruise in the end.”
Third overall and second in Silver Cup went to the #87 Team GT McLaren 570S GT4 of Paul Rees and Nico Rindlisbacher, with the #36 CMR Ginetta G55 GT4 of Pierre-Alexandre Jean and Stéphane Tribaudini taking third in class. The #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Nicolaj Møller Madsen/Milan Dontje, the #1 MDM Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of Simon Knap and Max Koebolt and the #110 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4 of Nico Menzel and Beitske Visser completed the Silver Cup top six.
Pro-AM honours went to the #77 Racing One Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Csaba Mor and Patrick Zamparini, who finished second overall. After a difficult opening race on Saturday, the duo had a great race today, finishing well clear of the rest of the Pro-AM entries. The #13 Schwede Motorsport Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR of Marc Basseng and Phillip Bethke that won yesterday’s race finished second in Pro-AM, 13th overall, with Racing One’s second Audi R8 LMS GT4, driven by Hamza Omega and Markus Lungstrass, securing third in class.
Niki Leutwiler, who was penalized yesterday for speeding in the pit lane, won the AM class by finishing tenth overall. The TFT Racing driver finished ahead of the #26 CMR Ginetta G55 GT4 of David Loger and Eric Mouez, with the #39 3Y Technology BMW M4 GT4 of Gwenael Delomier and Sylvain Debs taking the final podium place.