Round three of the GT4 European Series season brought the teams to the Misano World Circuit in Italy last week. It was a weekend with extremes. High temperatures on the two race days and heavy rain during practice. The two thrilling races provided new overall race winners in the form of RN Vision STS and Equipe Verschuur and as usual the paddock was buzzing again.
BLAME IT ON THE RAIN
Summer at the Adriatic coast always sounds good, but Friday at Misano wasn’t good at all. A torrential downpour during the GT4 European Series opening practice session resulted in a red-flagged session, slow lap times and caused serious issues for some of the participating teams.
One of the worst hit teams was German squad Phoenix Racing. Friday’s storm caused water damage to the team’s radio equipment, which resulted in communication problems between pit lane and the drivers in the cars. On Sunday the team had working radios again, thanks to the help of Belgian Audi Club Team WRT, Dörr Motorsport and Yaco Racing.
ONE TEAM’S LOSS IS ANOTHER TEAM’S GAIN
Schwede Motorsport had a comfortable lead in the GT4 European Series teams championship ahead of round three of the season. That lead completely vanished after a weekend to forget for the German team. The #13 Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR of Marc Basseng and Phillip Bethke did not finish on Saturday and Sunday, while the #15 entry of Dominik Schraml and Rudolf Schulte did not finish race 1 and took six points in race 2 on Sunday.
Schwede Motorsport dropped from first to fourth in the points, with Autorlando Sport taking the lead after their home round. The new for 2018 points system has ensured that teams from different classes are all in contention for the title and that halfway through the season eight teams are separated by just 29 points. Autorlando Sport leads the championship with 117 points, ahead of Racing One (106), HHC Motorsport (104), Schwede Motorsport (103) and TFT Racing (101).
In the Pro-Am class Racing One drivers Patrick Zamparini and Csaba Mor reduced the gap to championship leaders Basseng and Bethke to just three points, with their teammates Hamza Owega and Markus Lungstrass now 35 points behind in third place.
TURKISH DELIGHT IN GT4 EUROPEAN SERIES: BORUSAN OTOMOTIV MOTORSPORT
Most teams in the GT4 European Series have their base in Germany, France, Belgium or the Netherlands, but there’s one team that has to make a long trip every race weekend. Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport is based in Istanbul, some 2,000km away from the Misano World Circuit. The Turkish team made its series debut at Zolder in April and in Italy team principal İbrahim Okyay explained why his team opted to compete in the championship.
“Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport is the racing team of Borusan Otomotiv and was founded in 2008. It has since won the Turkish championship 11 times. It’s main target is to represent Turkey in foreign countries and give young drivers a chance to develop themselves,” said Okyay.
“We have participated in races on four continents and in 22 countries and started in more than 300 races, including the WTCC and ETCC. This season, we chose to race in the GT4 European Series because we think it’s the most colorful championship in Europe and the spirit of the competition is very important to us. Many different brands are racing here and SRO makes it possible for all these brands to race together, thanks to the Balance of Performance.”
“We think this series is perfect for our young drivers. We know there are many amateur drivers, but there are also a lot of professional drivers and as a team we also learn a lot from the professional teams. We wanted a series that didn’t have elevated costs and where drivers could gain experience.”
Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport is currently running one BMW M4 GT4 for rookie driver Ali Türkkan and his teammate Yağız Gedik and at this moment the team’s focus is this car and its drivers.
“Of course we would like to have two cars in the championship, but for now it is too early to talk about that. We are just learning things now.”
The team had its share of bad luck in the first half of the season and hopes to turn the tables in the second part of the 2018 season.
HUGE INTEREST FOR GT4 RACES AT HOCKENHEIM AND BAHRAIN
SRO Motorsports Group’s founder and CEO Stephane Ratel introduced the new GT4 Sprint Cup Europe in Hockenheim and GT4 World Final in Bahrain to the teams that were competing at the Misano World Circuit. The two events, which will take place in October and December, will be open to the teams racing in the GT4 European Series and a large number of teams racing at Misano showed interest in competing in the end-of-season races.
At Hockenheim, the GT4 Sprint Cup Europe will contest two 40-minute races on Saturday and Sunday, after Free Practice sessions and Qualifying on Friday. Each car will have one driver only. The GT4 World Final will be open to ‘regular’ line-ups competing for Pro-Am, Silver Cup and Am honours, with the format of two 60-minute qualifying races followed by a main 60-minute even. For Bahrain, SRO Motorsports Group will pay the transportation costs to the Middle East.
NEXT STOP SPA
There’s no time to relax for the GT4 European Series and its teams as the next race is just around the corner. On July 20-22, the teams will compete at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium during the brand new SRO Spa Speedweek, one week before the 70th edition of the Total 24 Hours of Spa.
The GT4 European Series full season entrants will be joined by a number of guest entries in Belgium, with the expected grid size to be just over 50 cars. Round four of the 2018 GT4 European Series is also part of the 2018 GT4 Belgium Cup. The full entry list is set to be revealed at a later date.
Qualifying at Spa-Francorchamps will take place on Saturday July 21st. Race 1 is scheduled for 10.30 on Sunday July 22nd, with Race 2 set to get underway at 16.40 on Sunday. Several teams and drivers are pulling double duty, competing in the GT4 European Series as well as the GT4 class of the British GT Championship.