RN Vision STS wins Race 1 after Equipe Verschuur penalty
Gabriele Piana and Razvan Umbrarescu picked up their first win of the season at the Misano World Circuit after a thrilling race on Saturday. The RN Vision STS BMW drivers made no mistakes to take the top step of the podium. Markus Lungstrass and Hamza Owega won in Pro-Am, with Alessandro Giovanelli and Giuseppe Ghezzi claiming their third consecutive victory.
Van der Ende started the race from pole position and held the lead into the first combination of corners. The Equipe Verschuur driver initially pulled away from the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Nicolaj Møller-Madsen, but the Danish driver was able to close the gap again and a thrilling fight for the lead began to develop.
Møller-Madsen overtook the #10 McLaren 570S GT4 of Van der Ende to take the lead on lap seven, but the Silver Cup points leader ahead of this weekend was unable to drive away from the Dutchman. The field was bunched up again after the #31 Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT4 went off and the safety car was deployed. When the safety car returned to the pits, the battle for the lead also continued until the pit window opened.
The #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4 made its stop one lap earlier than the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4, but that was not enough to retake the lead. Milan Dontje rejoined right in front of Finlay Hutchison, even despite Møller-Madsen spinning upon entering the pits, which caused bodywork damage to the car. Razvan Umbrarescu in the #111 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4 followed in third.
Dontje and Hutchison continued the battle that was started by their teammates, until the safety car was deployed once more after the #33 Bullitt Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 had gone off into the gravel. The safety car joined the track right behind the Hutchison and Dontje, who raced on and lapped one of the slower cars.
That pass turned out to be decisive for the outcome of the race, as the safety car signs were out and both Dontje and Hutchison were given a 40-second time penalty. Dontje’s day turned even worse when he spun off at high speed with five minutes left on the clock.
Hutchison eventually crossed the line in first place, but his penalty meant Umbrarescu was declared the winner, with the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4 of Will Tregurtha and Stuart Middleton claiming second place and the #16 Racing One Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Hamza Owega and Markus Lungstrass taking third place overall and the Pro-Am win. With a fifth place overall, MDM Motorsport drivers Simon Knap and Max Koebolt claimed third in Silver Cup.
“It was clear in the race that we had more pace than some of the other cars, especially at the beginning. I managed to recover a few positions right away and then fought all the way back to third place,” Piana said. “The safety car wasn’t really helpful, as I was catching the guys in front, so it only brought some guys from behind. The bottom line is that the other guys made mistakes and this time we didn’t do any. Combined with our own performance it was P1.”
Alessandro Giovanili and Giuseppe Ghezzi won the Am class, the #76 Autorlando Sport Porsche 911 GT4 crossing the line six seconds ahead of Niki Leutwiler in the #222 Porsche Zentrum Oberer Zürichsee by TFT Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR.
Equipe Verschuur bounce back for first win of 2018 in Race 2
Equipe Verschuur drivers Finlay Hutchison and Ricardo van der Ende secured their first GT4 European Series win of the season at the Misano World Circuit today. Starting from fourth on the grid, Hutchison moved into the lead early in the race, before handing the McLaren 570S GT4 to Van der Ende. The Dutchman then drove it to the finish, to claim Equipe Verschuur’s and McLaren’s first win in the series. RN Vision STS won Pro-Am, TFT Racing claimed victory in the Am class.
Polesitter Dontje maintained his position at the start, followed by Ivan Pareras in the #2 Leipert Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4. Behind them, Finlay Hutchison was on a mission and after first passing the #16 Racing One Audi R8 LMS GT4 of Markus Lungstrass, he then overtook Pareras and began to chase down Dontje. On lap five Hutchison passed Dontje to take the lead of the race and the British driver instantly pulled away from the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4.
As Hutchison continued to lead, the cars behind him engaged in a battle for the final podium position. Lungstrass and Simon Knap in the #1 MDM Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 passed Pareras, but the fight allowed the #87 Team GT McLaren of Paul Rees and the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta of Will Tregurtha to close the gap and join the battle.
When the pit window opened yesterday’s race winner Razvan Umbrarescu and Dontje came in right away, while Hutchison stayed out for one more lap, before handing over to Van der Ende. Van der Ende rejoined the race in first place, only to hear that Nicolaj Møller-Madsen was given a drive-through penalty for exceeding track limits with advantage. The Danish driver quickly served his penalty, losing valuable positions.
After all the cars had completed their mandatory stops, Van der Ende was leading Racing One’s Owega, with Stuart Middleton’s Ginetta in third place overall, right behind Owega. The British driver soon passed his German competitor, but within a matter of laps he himself had the #111 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4 of Gabriele Piana appearing in his mirrors.
Van der Ende made no mistakes in the remaining laps and drove to a commanding victory, while behind him Middleton suddenly slowed and dropped out of the top three. Middleton’s issues elevated Piana to second place, while True Racing’s Reinhard Kofler saw an inspiring drive rewarded with third place in class and overall.
“Hopefully that’s the tables turned and now it goes our way for the rest of the season,” van der Ende’s teammate Hutchison said after the race. “I had tons of pace in the car at the start and I managed to save the tyres. I don’t think it was all down to me. Now I look forward to Spa, where I have a double program. It’s going to be interesting.”
The #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 finished fourth in Silver Cup, ahead of the #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta G55 GT4, the #2 Leipert Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the #110 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4. The Silver Cup top 8 was completed by the #1 MDM Motorsport BMW, which finished in ninth place overall.
And in Am, TFT Racing driver Niki Leutwiler returned to the top of the podium, having finished in second place in Saturday’s opening race. The Swiss driver and the #222 Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR finished the race just outside the overall top 10, but 26.858s clear of the second placed Autorlando Sport Porsche 911 GT4 of Giuseppe Ghezzi and Alessandro Giovanelli. 3Y Technology drivers Gwenael Delomier and Sylvain Debs took third place with their #39 BMW M4 GT4.
Photos courtesy of GT4 Series