The FIA GT Series roars back in to life at the scenic seaside circuit of Zandvoort this weekend to sandblast the early summer break away and create more spectacular GT action. The third round of the series boasts a full grid of Audi, BMW, Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, Mercedes, McLaren and Nissan GT cars that are set to descend upon the popular 4.307kms circuit on the coast of the North Sea to create a titanic duel in the dunes.
The most consistent points’ scorers so far this season have been the two Belgian Audi Club Team WRT-entered Audi R8 LMS ultra GT cars. Stéphane Ortelli (MON) and Laurens Vanthoor (BEL) head the points table after a qualifying race win at Zolder backed up a second place at Nogaro.
Just two points behind Ortelli and Vanthoor are their Belgian Audi Club Team WRT team-mates Edward Sandström (SWE) and Frank Stippler (GER). The Swede and German pairing won the main race at Nogaro and notched a fifth and third at Zolder to eradicate the disappointment of their qualifying race retirement in France.
Another Audi to watch out for at Zandvoort will be the Phoenix Racing entry with Anthony Kumpen (BEL) and Enzo Ide (BEL) again aboard the red and white Audi R8 LMS ultra. Remarkably, Kumpen has not raced there since 1999 when he was an up and coming Formula Renault driver. He and Ide will be aiming to mix it with the WRT Audis at the front of the PRO class field this weekend.
The colourful Brazilian-blend of BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil will again enter a brace of BMW Z4 GT cars for Zandvoort. After showing flashes of promise so far this season the Antonio Hermann managed team will be hoping to bring a touch of Ipanema and Copacabana to Zandvoort this weekend with Caca Bueno (BRA)/Allam Khodair (BRA) and Sergio Jimenez (BRA)/Ricardo Zonta (BRA) aiming to exploit the renowned handling of the BMW Z4 on high speed corners.
In the PRO-AM category fierce competition and wheel-to-wheel, door-to-door action is always the order of the day. After two rounds the points standings indicate a fight between double Zolder winners HTP Gravity Charouz with a Mercedes SLS AMG and the Novadriver Audi R8 LMS ultra from Portugal, who lead their German/Czech rivals by 10 points.
Sergei Afanasiev (RUS) and Andreas Simonsen (SWE) will be riding the crest of a North Sea wave when they arrive at Zandvoort after dominating the PRO-AM class at Zolder. Behind them though are sure to be multiple challengers, likely to be led by the talented Novadriver pairing of Cesar Campanico (PRT) and Carlos Vieira (PRT).
A welcome first outing in the FIA GT Series at Zandvoort comes from the Dutch V8 Racing team that will field a Corvette for Duncan Huisman (NDL) and Maximillian Braams (NDL). While the experienced Huisman is well known to motorsport fans around the world, Braams who is affectionately known as ‘Mad Max’ will be making his international GT debut on home ground with the mighty and rumbling Corvette Z06 GT3.
Other likely frontrunners in the PRO-AM class are likely to be the pair of Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO cars. Lucas Ordonez (ESP) and Alex Buncombe (GBR) have been quick but unlucky so far this season and if their Blancpain Endurance Series form is anything to go by then they should challenge for the class victory. The second Nissan GT-R NISMO will be driven by the latest GT Academy graduates Mark Shulzhitskiy (RUS) and Wolfgang Reip (GER).
The Portuguese Rodrive team continues their adventure in the 2013 FIA GT Series this season but this time with a different car. Gone is the ageing Ford GT, to be replaced by a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. One of the team’s regular drivers Matheus Stumpf (BRA), is joined by Patrick Cunha (PRT), who has been a regular front runner in his domestic GT series.
The third round of the FIA GT Series at Zandvoort kicks off on Friday with two Free Practice sessions. A one-hour Qualifying Practice session on Saturday morning will set the grid for the qualifying race which is scheduled to begin at 13.45cet. The main race will begin at 11.45cet on Sunday with the grid decided, as usual, by the result of the previous day’s qualifying race.
Live coverage of the races will be streamed as they happen, alongside live-timing from Zandvoort here - FIA GT live
Caca Bueno, BMW Sports Trophy Team Brazil, BMW Z4 (PRO) “I believe that the Zandvoort´s track will be better for the BMW Z4. Thus, I think that the team should have a better performance and we can get some really good results this weekend. For the future in FIA GT Series I think that the BMW will find a better balance than during the early season races, so the team will be able to think a little further ahead and push for some stronger performances.”
Karun Chandhok, SMS Seyffarth Motorsport, Mercedes SLS AMG (PRO) “My first time at Zandvoort and I am very much looking forward to it as it is a classic circuit. We have been quick so far this season but have had problems like the brakes issue at Zolder. We should be quick at Zandvoort and if we run cleanly then there is no reason we cannot get a result. We have to aim for the podium every time we go out in the car, so let’s hope we can achieve that objective this weekend.”
Gottfried Grasser, Team Manager of Grasser Racing, Lamborghini (PRO-AM) “We are looking forward to the next race in Zandvoort because we have switched from the 2012 car to the 2013 car. We decided to invest in this new car because the Reiter team had it at Zolder but it was interesting for us to invest in the new update anyway, in order to be on the same level than for Zandvoort. Hopefully we will have a good result there. We think we can achieve a podium and even more. It should be possible, especially with the strength of our drivers - Hari Proczk (AUT) and Dominik Baumann (GER).”
Sergei Afanasiev, HTP Gravity Charouz, Mercedes SLS AMG (PRO-AM) "But really it is going to be exciting because the first corner is very narrow and this is a very fast circuit at the same time. It will be very interesting. I forecast that Audi will be highly competitive and very fast. They had a very good development during off-season, so they are really quick. Otherwise, I don’t really have an expectation for this race, I only have a target, and that is to win!”
FIA GT Series