A thrilling start to a promising future ! Building on the great success of the FIA GT3 European Championship one year after its creation, the SRO Motorsport Group chaired by Stephane Ratel has now launched the GT4 European...
A thrilling start to a promising future !
Building on the great success of the FIA GT3 European Championship one year after its creation, the SRO Motorsport Group chaired by Stephane Ratel has now launched the GT4 European Cup, a new category offering manufacturers, teams and drivers a first step into GT racing. Management of the series has been entrusted to former Belgian driver Pascal Witmeur who put GT4 through its initial paces last weekend at Silverstone.
While only a reduced number of 13 cars were present in the paddock, the fact that the race went along as scheduled was a small victory in itself for SRO. "We could have postponed this first meeting, but that just isn't the way SRO does business," commented Pascal Witmeur. "Several entrants just weren't ready yet but out of respect for all those who worked hard over the winter, we took the decision to go racing at Silverstone. A few cars, like the Nissan 350 Z Evo or the Porsche Caymans, were completed in the paddock minutes before the first practice session, so it was last- minute rush for many. Competitors spared no effort to be on the grid for this inaugural race and they should be commended for that. Given the buzz in the paddock and the interest GT4 generated all weekend, it was finally a good idea to get the ball rolling.
Action on the track provided a clear indication of the close competition which is set to govern the new series, the Aston Martin N24s, the BMW Z4 and the Ford Mustang FR500C all running close to each other all weekend "The battle for victory in the first race was incredibly thrilling, with 6 cars fighting for top honours, as the spectacular TV footage showed", explained Witmeur. "It was a good start to the series indeed." The Aston Martin pair formed by Dane Jac Nelleman and Christopher Porritt finished 1st and 2nd in the first round, but it was Belgian Guino Kenis who really provided the entertainment in the 40 minute race. The G&A BMW Z4 driver pulled out all the stops and earned himself quite a reputation in the paddock. He completed the podium and headed the Mustangs of special guest driver Gunnar Jeannette and fellow countryman Eric de Doncker who unfortunately spun early on while battling with the Aston Martins.
Eric de Doncker put his muscle car on pole for the second race but struggled rapidly with an ill handling machine. Providing the crowd once again with a breath taking display of car control, Guino Kenis took on the Multimatic Mustang of Jeannette, and the ensuing battle was ferocious. The drivers frantically diced for the lead, the young American just edging out Kenis for victory while Nelleman and Porritt finished a distant 3rd and 4th, just in front of de Doncker.
"In spite of a depleted grid, the show was great and everybody had a good time", said Pascal Witmeur. "The second GT4 round at Oschersleben scheduled early July will see several more competitors join the ranks. We'll have a couple more Maserati Trofeos from JMB Racing as well as a second BMW Z4 from G&A. Both Porsche Cayman teams, First Racing and GPR, will enter a second car and we'll probably be adding another Mustang and a few more Nissans and Aston Martins, while Lotus could be represented by as much as 6 upgraded Exige Cup runners. If all goes accordingly, we should have an impressive grid in Germany." A new category of racing was born at Silverstone. Long live GT4 !
-credit: sro belgium