he Competition102 GT4 European Series couldn’t think of a better start of the 2016 season. A record-breaking entry list consisted 27 entries at Monza resulting in spectacular competition in both 50-minute races. Luca Anselmi and Giorgio Sernagiotto, driving the Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4, were victorious on Saturday while the following day last year’s team champion V8 Racing was on its way to secure a 1-2 before the red flag was shown and the win therefore was awarded to Romain Monti.
Eight different car makes were presented, including two new vehicles that will race the entire season: the Ekris M4 GT4 and the winning Maserati. Also worth mentioning is the eight KTMs X-BOW GT4. These are piloted by up and coming race car drivers who are part of the Reiter Young Stars programme, aiming to develop talents and the male and female winner of this competition can count on a full programme in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup
Villorba Corse entered three Maseratis GranTurismo MC GT4. One of the cars was piloted by talent Luca Anselmi and experienced GT driver Giorgio Sernagiotto. The Italian drivers felt at home at Monza and battled for the win successfully.
“The battle for the win was fantastic. It was my first time in the GT car, so this victory feels incredible. I’m experiencing so many emotions,” said Anselmi on the podium. The 24-year-old driver had so far gained experience in hill climb racing and in the Trofeo Abarth. “The cars are totally different. Thanks to my team mate I received the Maserati in perfect condition and could push until the finish.”
Sernagiotto also competes in the LMP3 category of the European Le Mans Series after successful years in various Ferrari championships and the Trofeo Maserati. “Competitions like the Competition102 GT4 European Series are very spectacular because of the many types of cars and different races. It’s unlike ELMS where the cars are very similar. Here it is very fun and very spectacular and I think it’s the right way to do motorsports,” said Sernagiotto.
The Italian driver has high hopes for the rest of the season. He added: “We can do even better. It’s a good way to start the season and I think the Maserati can be faster at Spa-Francorchamps and maybe at the Nürburgring and Hungaroring. With Villorba Corse we did a very good job as we finished in first position.”
Back on track
Tim Coronel made a surprising entry in the Competition102 GT4 European Series by partnering Pieter-Christiaan van Oranje piloting the BMW M3 GT4. In the past years the Dutchman chose to focus on the Dakar Rally instead of circuit racing, competing solo with the buggy in world’s most challenging rally raid. Previously Coronel performed well on the track and even raced GT cars in the Dutch GT4 championship.
“Pieter-Christiaan phoned me and asked me to join and perhaps for the entire season. That sounded appealing,” said Coronel. “I haven’t been visiting the tracks as a race car driver lately because I focussed on the Dakar Rally, but once you’re back in the car you become fanatic.”
Coronel qualified in seventh position, which wasn’t a bad result. “The team said that what I did was great, so I’m happy too,” he said. “Of course you want to race every day, because that is in my blood. So it’s great to be back and I know a lot of these guys as I raced them earlier.”
The races didn’t go according to plan. In the first race Coronel failed to make it to the starting grid due to a technical problem. The second race he caused a red flag due to an unfortunate oil leakage. “The oil leakage caused a small fire, so I drove to the marshals and parked the car”, he explained. “I’m looking forward to Pau. Although not having raced there, the car feels great and we’re expecting a good result.”
Promising new vehicles
In addition to welcoming the Maseratis GranTurismo MC GT4, the season started with a couple of new Porsches entered by PROsport Performance. One of the Porsche Cayman PRO4 GT4 was piloted by Peter Terting, who became father of a daughter that weekend and he shared the car with newcomer Daniel Rymes. The experienced GT4 racer Jörg Viebahn teamed up with Mike Hansch and former DTM driver Carsten Struwe got behind the wheel of the Trophy version of the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
Despite no podium finishes were reported, the team knows it can improve during the season. “The official GT4 package hasn’t been released by Porsche yet”, says Chris Esser, team director of PROsport Performance. “We are expecting to implement this mid-season and because of our expertise gathered over the years we can further optimise the car for the championship.”
After deputing during the final round in 2015, the Ekris M4 GT4 was fine-tuned during the winter. Racing Team Holland by Ekris Motorsport finished the development of a second car recently and was therefore able to race two of its new vehicles. Ricardo van der Ende and Bernhard van Oranje started the season well with a second place before finishing fifth in the PRO division on Sunday. Team mates Simon Knap and Rob Severs were ranked third on Saturday and finished sixth in the second race.
Young and ambitious
The series welcomed the Reiter Young Stars programme, a challenge set up by Reiter Engineering to provide not only young talented male and female drivers a chance to show their strengths on the track, but also for student engineers and aspiring team managers to develop themselves. The crew around the eight KTM X-BOW GT4 vehicles are battling for glory and the best male and female driver will be rewarded with a full season in the 2017 Blancpain GT Series Sprint Cup.
The drivers not only score points in the championship, but also for specific performances like the best five lap times set in a race, tyre wear and media coverage. One of the drivers is Tim Stupple, racing with Lennart Marioneck. They just missed the PRO podium in the second race.
“It’s a really hard competition; everybody wants to be in front. Everyone is looking after their own car and tries to win, which is how it’s supposed to be. We can change things like the setup, but we share our data so that everyone can look at the data of the fastest car. The differences are small”, explained Stupple.
After performing in karting and gaining motorsports experience with a Suzuki and Chevrolet Cruze, it’s the first time Stupple races a rear wheel driven car. “So far so good and it’s a fun car to drive. We have some problems with the top speed on the straights, but we are very fast in the corners. So the Balance of Performance is fair and we can keep up quite well. It’s fun to race in a large field of competitors,” said the 18-year-old newcomer.