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GT News Notebook: GT3, GT4 & NLS News

BMW Launches NLS Class For New BMW M2 CS Racing

A new single-make class will debut at the second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) as the ‘BMW M2 CS Racing VLN class’ makes its debut.

The category is for the new entry-level model in the BMW M Customer Racing programme, the BMW M2 CS Racing. The new class will run alongside the continuing popular one-make BMW M240i Racing Cup.

The first appearances under race conditions in last year’s NLS season came after initial test runs at Miramas and Portimão. At the 2020 NLS opener last weekend, the BMW M2 CS Racing also made its first appearance for a customer. The Walkenhorst Motorsport car crossed the finish line second in the SP8T class.

Turkish Team Take Two To GT4 European Series

Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport has confirmed its commitment to the GT4 European Series by announcing a two-car entry for the 2020 season.

The only Turkish team participating in GT4 European Series since 2018 will double up this season with the addition of a second BMW M4 GT4.

Ibrahim Okyay and Fatih Ayhan will share one of the team’s turquoise-coloured M4 GT4s in the Am category of the series. The second car will see Yağız Gedik paired with fast youngster Cem Bölükbaşi in the Pro-Am class.

22-year-old Bölükbaşı made his debut in the GT4 European Series last year at Paul Ricard and claimed second place with Okyay in the Pro-Am category at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. In 2020, he will fulfil his real racing dream with a full season in the GT4 European Series.

Bölükbaşı, a long-time F1 Esports racer, competed in the official F1 Esports series for Toro Rosso Esports and won the Formula Renault Esport Series title last month. He also won races in the highly competitive Veloce Esports Not the GP series. Teammate Gedik last raced in the GT4 European Series in 2018, finishing in the points four times.

Centri Porsche Ticino Porsche  For Full Season GT4 European Series.

Centri Porsche Ticino has confirmed it will enter the Pro-Am category of the 2020 GT4 European Series.

The Swiss team made a successful series debut with second place in the first race at Circuit Paul Ricard last season. The team then returned for the final round of the season at the Nürburgring.

This season, Centri Porsche Ticino is set to field its Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport in all six rounds of the championship. Team owner Ivan Jacoma will be back behind the wheel of the #718 Porsche.

He will be joined by former International GT Open and Le Mans Series GT2 champion Joël Camathias, who last raced in an SRO-run series was at in the Blancpain GT Series Asia round at Sepang, Malaysia in 2017.

“It is not usual to be presenting the end of June a racing season that will start end of July, but we all know that 2020 is not going to be remembered as a conventional year. The most important is that the worst of the tough and painful experience that we all had to endure is behind us and that we are going back to normal life and focusing again on racing,” commented Camathias.

“I am delighted to announce an exciting programme, which has also an emotional component, for my 27th season in motorsports. To be back at the forefront of the international scene, in a prestigious series such as the GT4 European Series, is very stimulating. To do it with a Porsche, a car and a brand close to my heart, adds to the enjoyment and even more exciting is to be part of package completely Swiss and from Canton Ticino. The Centri Porsche Ticino team has the expertise to do well and Ivan Jacoma is an experienced GT driver. On top of that, the programme has been designed to offer interesting possibilities for business networking to all our partners,” Camathias added.

W&D Add First Two GT4 European Series Rounds To 2020 Programme 

W&D Racing Team will compete in the first two rounds of the 2020 GT4 European Series at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola and the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli.

The Sammarinese team will field its BMW M4 GT4 at its home rounds with two drivers from San Marino. Stefano Valli will join GT4 European Series regular Paolo Meloni. The former last raced for W&D Racing Team in the Italian Super Production championship in 2002.

Meloni and Valli are set to race in the AM category at Imola and Misano and have scheduled several tests in preparation of the upcoming season.

Imola hosts the opening round of the 2020 GT4 European Series on July 25/26.

KÜS Team75 Bernhard Confirms Young Guns In ADAC GT4 Cayman

KÜS Team75 Bernhard will again field a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 in ADAC GT4 Germany.

Timo Bernhard: “As a team, we have also committed ourselves to train young racing drivers. We see the GT4 as the perfect training tool. A GT4 vehicle isn’t too fast yet, but at the same time it contains many elements that you can use later in the GT3 from karting, the GT4 can be used to build an ideal bridge to the GT3 class “, Bernhard explains the idea behind the engagement in the ADAC GT4 Germany.

KÜS Team75 Bernhard is relying on a total of three drivers in the 2020 season: two youngsters and one experienced pilot. The 17-year-old Alexander Taucher will contest all races. “He comes from our own junior programme because he was karting for our Junior Team75 last year. We are pleased that he has now graduated,” said Bernhard. The second seat is shared by Kim Berwanger and 15-year-old Levi O’Dey.

Berwanger already competed in the season finale at the Sachsenring in ADAC GT4 Germany in 2019 and made it onto the podium in race 1 on Saturday. 

He is an old friend of the Bernhard family and will compete in two racing weekends in 2020 – starting with the season opener at the Nürburgring. The aim of this assignment is that team-mate Levi O’Dey can orientate himself on the 33-year-old and get to know the team and race processes before entering ADAC GT4 Germany himself later in the season. It is not yet clear at which race weekend Berwanger will contest its second guest appearance in the ADAC GT4 Germany in 2020.

“I don’t want to define a specific season goal,” clarifies Bernhard. “Especially in their first year in automotive racing, I don’t want to put unnecessary pressure on the two youngsters. Rather, it is important to me that Alex and Levi develop properly. They have the potential for great things I will see them in GT3 racing at some point. ”

In the KÜS Team75 Bernhard, there was also a personnel restructuring in winter. “In my job as a team manager, I have an overview of all our programs and make strategic decisions. In day-to-day business, however, I mainly look at our GT3 program,” continues Bernhard, who ended his own professional driver career at the end of 2019. “My father Rüdiger takes care of karting in the Junior Team75 and Klaus Graf the GT4. Klaus can handle young people very well and give them something right, even off the track.”

The team has already taken the first test drives after the corona break. “As soon as it started again, we were on the road in Hockenheim. That made sense for us, because our base is not very far from the Hockenheimring. We were, therefore, able to do day trips without overnight stays,” says Bernhard. “We have already driven in Oschersleben. Before the season starts, we will even go out again for test purposes.”

First HPD GT3 Driver Academy 

A quartet of promising racers became the first graduates of the Honda Performance Development GT3 Driver Academy last week, as HPD’s program to assist young drivers to accelerate their careers held its inaugural session at Road Atlanta.

The four members of the first GT3 Academy class were Taylor Hagler, Jacob Abel, Karl Wittmer and Dakota Dickerson.

All arrived last Sunday for an orientation session with the Acura NSX GT3 Evo they would pilot over a two day course, the car, prepped and crewed by the 2019 SRO World Challenge GT America Championship-winning Racers Edge Motorsports team.

Despite some challenging weather, the drivers still each ran 60-plus laps over two days and worked through the full curricula that included one-on-one coaching and instruction. 

The first group meeting occurred online Thursday evening with Acura’s social media staff and agency offering best practices on digital engagement with fans, teams, and large OEMs.

Taylor Hagler, who drove in the 2019 TC America series noted, “The opportunity to attend the HPD GT3 Driver Academy was an amazing one,” said Hagler. “The car was just incredible, and driving it at a track like Road Atlanta was amazing. The HPD engineers were really on top of everything and Racers Edge did a great job with the car.

“The program that HPD developed for this was really impressive,” Hagler continued. “There was a ton of information to absorb. Going between being in the car to going to corners to observe the other drivers to go to the sessions about what I need to be thinking about outside of the car made it feel a lot like a race weekend. My notebook is pretty much full from the two days, and I am even more excited to get to Sebring and go racing for real in a few weeks!”

The Road Atlanta program included on-track coaching sessions in the championship-winning from NSX GT3 Evo race winners Ryan Eversley and Dane Cameron, as well as off-track instruction relating to effective communication with team personnel and engineers, in addition to driver marketing insights and sponsor searches. As a testament to the drivers’ quick learning, the original target lap set for the drivers by Dane had to be reset with an even faster base lap early on the second day.

“The first event of the GT3 Academy went flawlessly,” commented Jacob Abel. “The NSX GT3 car was awesome, and having very limited experience in sports cars prior to this opportunity, I was concerned about adapting. However, Ryan, Dane, and everyone at Racers Edge Motorsports made the transition seamless. I’m looking forward to taking what we learned in the past couple of days and building on it in mid-Ohio!”

After each on-track session, the drivers immediately reviewed lap data and in-car video with an instructor, while drivers not on track would pair with another instructor at a location around the track. Acura Motorsports/HPD provided engineering support and feedback to increase driver experience in working with OEM engineering staff. With a stated goal of expanding diversity and access for North American racing talent, HPD is committed to bringing more opportunities like this for the future stars of motorsport.

Canadian racer Karl Wittmer, younger brother of Kumo Wittmer, said, “I have a lot of experience in Touring Cars, but even so, this was quite different. The pre-track briefings and coaching were really valuable, but the best part was definitely getting behind the wheel and getting faster and faster over the two days!”

The Mid-Ohio GT3 Academy event in July will feature drivers Kyle Marcelli and Mario Farnbacher as instructors and will focus on communication and feedback with a racer’s team and engineering personnel. The remaining two GT3 Academy dates will be announced shortly with a planned bonus event later in the year.

Driver Dakota Dickerson concludes, “The first event of the HPD GT3 Drivers Academy was an incredible experience. Being able to work with so many experienced professionals including the Racers Edge Motorsports Team, Ryan Eversley, Dane Cameron, and all of the folks at Acura Motorsports helped accelerate my learning curve and gave me valuable insights. Plus, the Acura NSX GT3 EVO was a blast to drive!”

Aiden Read Makes A Move To Secure ADAC GT Masters Programme

Schubert Motorsport driver Aidan Read has found a solution to the current travel restrictions.

The 21-year-old is the only full-season driver for 2020 ADAC GT Masters whose permanent residence is outside Europe. 

Last year, his debut season in the ADAC GT Masters, the Australian made the long journey from his home country to every race venue. But due to the corona pandemic, this is no longer a viable option. 

Read and Schubert Motorsport have therefore come up with the more practical solution of a move to the vicinity of the team base at Oschersleben. 

Read will contest his second campaign in the series as a member of the Schubert squad after one year with Schütz Motorsport. “The team is currently helping me to find an apartment so that I can settle in,” says the Aussie. “I am therefore going to take six months off from my degree course in Mechanical Engineering so that I can concentrate on racing and on life in Germany, all this with a view to the 2021 season.”

“This will allow me to be much closer to my team. I want to integrate myself into the squad much more at the team headquarters in Oschersleben and at the race tracks. We are toying with the idea of organising an internship for me at Schubert, which will help with my studies. 

“With the race calendar being so tight and with venues spread across Germany, Austria and the Netherlands, I am going to be spending quite a lot of time in the company of the team.”

“I’m looking forward to getting back behind the wheel. I tested in the BMW earlier this year. Even though the car and the Lausitzring are new to me, I’m confident that I and my co-driver Joel Eriksson will be among the front-runners right from the start.”

Read and Schubert Motorsport still has two test dates between now and the opening weekend. The team plans to spend two days at the upgraded Zandvoort circuit before proceeding to the official ADAC GT Masters preseason tests which take place on 18th/19th July at the Lausitzring.