Circuit Zolder will be staging the second round of the FIA GT Series from 19th through to 21st April. The name rings true and not without reason.
Over the years the FIA GT has made the Limburg circuit one of its regular ports of call and everyone remembers the brilliant battles between Maserati and Corvette, with amongst others local driver Anthony Kumpen playing a leading role.
Some brief history, because the link between SRO’s FIA GT Series and Circuit Zolder is one that has enjoyed many chapters.
In 1999 the FIA GT visited the circuit in the vicinity of Hasselt for the first time and the initial winners of a long series were Olivier Beretta and Karl Wendlinger in a Chrysler Viper.
In 2011 and 2012 we saw similar GTs, but as a sub-division of the fully-fledged GT1 World Championship. With the FIA GT Series in 2013 Circuit Zolder is reawakening a strong tradition, perfect for the year in which the circuit is celebrating its 50th birthday.
“For us it is brilliant to have the FIA GT Series featuring on our calendar”, Thierry Deflandre, General Manger of Circuit Zolder stated, making the link between the past and present.
“On the one hand our international season opener is a strong feature and on the other it goes without saying that the FIA GT Series could not miss out in a season in which the circuit is celebrating its 50th birthday.
As such we are going to do everything within our power to make this FIA GT Series into a true motorsport feast on 19th, 20th and 21st April.”
It is still somewhat too early to give a full insight into all the players involved, but one thing is certain: mid-April Circuit Zolder will be welcoming nine times world champion Sébastien Loeb.
This year the Frenchman is combining his last event in the World Rally Championship or WRC, in which he remained unbeaten during nine seasons (2004-2012), with the FIA GT Series.
Not only will Loeb be at the wheel of a McLaren MP4-12C, together with Spanish teammate Alvaro Parente, but the Frenchman also runs his own team. We also know that Mike Parisy (FR) and Andreas Zuber (AT) will be in the team’s second McLaren.
The cars taking on the McLarens are the Mercedes SLS GT3, BMW Z4 GT3, Ford GT, Nissan GT-R and Audi R8 LMS. On the Belgian front WRT Audi will most probably be present, the team in which Laurens Vanthoor feels very much at home.
Striking to note that a Belgian has never won in Zolder in front of a home crowd…
When we mention Belgians, one of the drivers who will be competing in front of a home crowd with a strong renown in the FIA GT is: Anthony Kumpen.
In 2009, in front of packed Zolder grandstands this Hasselt based driver became FIA GT vice-champion and is now taking up the gauntlet once more.
“For me the return of FIA GT as a name is a highly important decision”, Kumpen commented, who on a daily basis is involved with marketing.
“That name rings true, many people know the name and I remember that in the years 2007-2008-2009 there were massive crowds. To make a naughty comparison, F1 also alters its rules, but not its name.
I will be at the start together with Enzo Ide in an Audi R8 LMS of the German Phoenix team and we will be battling it out up front to clinch the prizes! So all supporters to their stations I would say.”
With Kumpen we can also make the link to the other races of the FIA GT Series weekend. “Bert Longin and myself together with Maarten Makelberge will also be competing in the BRCC, the national circuit championship.
We are doing this in an Audi R8 LMS entered by PK Carsport, our old Belcar-team and that means a great deal to me.”
In addition to the FIA GT Series this meeting held on 19th, 20th and 21st April is also the kick-off of the BRCC, with not only a 90 minutes race for the BRCC Endurance championship, but also four intense sprints for the … BRCC Sprint championship.
But there is more entertainment with the Supercar Challenge powered by Dunlop, who will also be holding four races on the Limburg circuit.