Milan Dontje and Nicolaj Møller-Madsen (above) won the GT4 European Series Silver Cup title in dramatic fashion in today’s season finale at the Nürburgring with a fifth place finish in their Phoenix Racing Audi R8 GT4.
It was just enough, after surprise retirements befell the #1 MDM Motorsport BMW and #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta. All three crews finished the season level on points, but Dontje and Møller-Madsen clinched the title by virtue of having more race wins than their opponents this season.
Victory meanwhile, went the way of the #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren of Finlay Hutchison and Ricardo van der Ende, while Markus Lungstrass was successful with victory in the Pro-Am class. With his win Lungstrass also clinched the drivers’ title as well as the teams’ title for Racing One.
Van der Ende started the final race of the season from pole and the outgoing champion was still leading and oblivious to the drama that was unfolding behind him when the #111 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4 tapped the #35 CMR Alpine A110 GT4 into a spin at turn 2.
Nicolaj Møller-Madsen missed the spinning Alpine, but Max Koebolt and Stuart Middleton were less fortunate. Koebolt could not avoid the Alpine and crashed into it, while Middleton’s Ginetta was hit on the side by the #3 Phoenix Racing trying to steer clear from the damaged cars.
The #1 MDM Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 retired on the spot, while the Ginetta continued. The safety car was deployed and when it returned to the pit at the end of lap 5 Møller-Madsen was third and Middleton was sixth, which at that point would be enough for the British driver to clinch the title.
However, the damage inflicted to the Ginetta on the opening lap caused it to catch fire during the mandatory pit stop. HHC Motorsport sent Tregurtha back out, but it soon became apparent that it was a serious issue and he returned to the pit. Firefighters put out the fire, but it was the end of the race for the British car.
It turned out to be the decisive moment in the championship as the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 was still running and despite Dontje losing two places, the gap to the BMW of Razvan Umbrarescu was big enough to secure fifth place and the Silver Cup on race wins.
“Wow,” said Dontje. “This was our lucky race. We had some bad luck this season but were fortunate today. The two cars in front of us retired and when I was in the car I knew I had to finish fifth or better. I finished fifth, though I didn’t have the best of races. But in the end is was enough to win the championship and I’m really happy.”
Hutchison, meanwhile, drove a faultless race and after 25 laps the Equipe Verschuur driver was the first to take the chequered flag, securing his and Van der Ende’s second win of the season. BMW Motorsport Juniors Nico Menzel and Beitske Visser finished in second place, 10 seconds behind the McLaren, while Selleslagh Racing Team’s Bas Schouten and Gilles Magnus completed the Silver Cup podium at the Nürburgring.
The title fight in the Pro-Am category wasn’t as close as the fight in Silver Cup, but Marc Basseng and Phillip Bethke kept the pressure on Racing One’s Markus Lungstrass until the last minutes of the race.
Basseng started the race from the class pole position and the German driver avoided the drama in turn 2. Lungstrass’ teammate Jules Szymkowiak followed him in fourth place, knowing that by just finishing the race Lungstrass would win the title.
The #13 Schwede Motorsport Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR managed to stay ahead after the driver changes, but Lungstrass began to reel in Bethke and soon he was behind the Porsche. The two raced each other for a number of laps, but right before the end Lungstrass passed Bethke to take the win and the titles. Basseng and Bethke finished second in the race as well as the championship, with RN Vision STS drivers Miguel Cristovao and Pavel Lefterov completing the Pro-Am podium.
Martin Kohlhaas, Team owner Racing One said: “It was a hard championship and we had some bad luck in the first races, but at the end we made no mistakes. We had a perfect driver pairing at the end and I think the team, the drivers and Audi Sport were a good combination. I’m very happy that we are Pro-Am and team champions!”
Nicolas Schöll was the best driver in the Am category again, dominating the second race of the weekend. The Allied-Racing driver was one of many drivers given a drive through penalty, but he managed to get back into the lead. The #42 Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR eventually finished almost 27 seconds clear of the #39 3Y Technology BMW M4 GT4 of Delomier and Debs and the #27 CMR Alpine A110 GT4 of Loger and Mouez.
The Am championship was already won by Niki Leutwiler in yesterday’s race.
Image courtesy of GT4 European Series