This weekend will mark Hockenheim’s first appearance on the GT4 European Series calendar, with a 43-car grid set to grace the home of the German Grand Prix.
Joulié and Ibañez taking command in the Silver Cup?
It has been a great fight for Enzo Joulié and Lluc Ibañez of the NM Racing Team so far this season. Having endured a rocky start to the year at Imola, the pair have put in a standout performance ever since, taking two wins and three podium finishes in the last six races to lead the way in their #15 Mercedes-AMG. While the final round at Spa-Francorchamps proved difficult, the pair did enough to extend their championship lead to 29 points heading into the final four races of the season.
Spa also mixed up the order of their rivals, with Saintéloc Racing’s Roee Meyuhas and Erwan Bastard emerging as the closest rivals to the NM Mercedes. Meyuhas and Bastard had overcome a couple of challenging events, limited by overheating problems in their Audi during the scorching weekends at Circuit Paul Ricard and Misano, but the cooler temperatures in Spa allowed them to show their true potential. They earned their first win of the season and a second-place finish to skyrocket to second in the points.
Season pioneers Konstantin Lachenauer and Gus Bowers now sit third. The pair battled it out in their Racing Spirit of Léman Aston Martin in qualifying at Spa, putting them deep in the pack for the races. They scored just four points all weekend and are now under real pressure to reignite their title charge. They sit one point behind Meyuhas/Bastard.
In fact, second through fourth in the standings are separated by just three points, with PROsport Racing’s Mike David Ortmann and Hugo Sasse still in contention. They were two-time winners at the Paul Ricard circuit but have endured mixed weekends ever since, with as many non-points as podium finishes in the last two rounds.
Romain Monti/Antoine Potty are fifth in the ever-quickening CMR Toyota GR Supra, with Tom Canning and Akhil Rabindra sixth in the second Racing Spirit of Léman Aston Martin.
Watch out for the Borusan Otomotive Motorsport pairing of Berkay Besler and reigning British GT4 Champion Will Burns, who have been doing well recently in their BMW M4. Similarly, the Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport team, who made an excellent debut during the last round at Spa, returns with reigning GT4 German champions Gabriele Piana and Michael Schrey aboard their BMW M4.
Add others like Benjamin Lariche/Robert Consani’s Team Speedcar Audi R8 LMS, Moritz Wiskirchen/Alexander Hartvig’s Allied Racing Porsche 718 Cayman, Ruben Del Sarte/Paul-Aurel König’s new entry at Mirage Racing’s Aston Martin and the team reworked by Tom Verdier of AGS Events. /Loris Cabirou and suddenly choosing a certain winner is a difficult task.
Beaubelique and Pla, closer to Pro-Am glory for Akkodis ASP Team
There was a time when it looked like Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla might well be in a position to clinch the Pro-Am title early in this round, but a challenging final event at Spa allowed their rivals to make up some ground.
The Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG duo have been in control of the class championship since round two, and looked to be sweeping it away after two wins and two podium finishes from four races midway through the season. However, an electrical failure during qualifying at Spa forced his car to start at the back of the monster 55-car field for both races. Regardless, they showed their fighting spirit by picking up a good number of points to hang on to their 30-point championship lead.
Surely things would have been closer if the Centri Porsche Ticino 718 Cayman of Ivan Jacoma and Alex Fontana hadn’t gotten into a mess at the first corner in race two at Spa. They had successfully closed the gap to Beaubelique/Pla with a second place finish in race one, but the unfortunate retirement brought things back to square one.
That drama also opened the door for Saintéloc Racing’s Gregory Guilvert and Fabien Michal to make up ground in the championship. The pair’s first win of the season at Spa moved them into third place in the points, just three behind Jacoma/Fontana.
Having emerged as class leaders at both Circuit Paul Ricard and Misano, Kenny Herremans/Dante Rappange had a quieter round at Spa, taking two sixth places in their V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro to take fourth place in the championship. .
Instead, Alpines came to the fore at Spa with Code Racing’s Antoine Leclerc/Loïc Villiger taking their first outright win of the race – the second overall victory for a Pro-Am team this year – at Spa. They followed that up with a second place finish to move up to fifth in the standings. Could this be the beginning of a late collection of the crown?
Andreas Mayrl/Vincent Andronaco’s Belgian weekend never got off the ground after an accident put their Allied Racing 718 Cayman out of action, so they will be itching to win again. Simon Gachet and Eric Debard showed great pace last time out in their Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG, with their second podium finish of the season taking them to seventh in the points ahead of Drago Racing Team ZVO’s Robert Haub/Gabriela Jílková. However, Gachet & Debard will miss this round.
Others to watch out for include Jean-Laurent Navarro/Julien Briche (JSB Competition Mercedes-AMG), Hendrik Still/Max Kronberg (W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman), Nico Verdonck/Rodrigue Gillion (PROsport Aston Martin Vantage), and altered AGS Events. Nicolas Gomar/Mike Parisy’s Aston Martin lineup.
Riccis lead a four-way fight for honors at Am
Things are shaping up to be too close to call in the Am class, with the top four changing race by race.
Father and son team Mauro and Benjamin Ricci lead the points thanks to two wins and three podium finishes in their Akkodis ASP Team Mercedes-AMG, but are under huge pressure to hang on to the top spot.
AGS Events team Julien Lambert and Wilfried Cazalbon are just seven points behind in their Aston Martin, having successfully recovered from a tough weekend at Misano to return to the podium at Spa.
Mikhail Loboda and Andrey Solukovtsev celebrated their first class victory last time out at Spa in their W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman, and might well have been higher up the standings had it not been for an unfortunate retirement in race two.
Tied on points for third are NM Racing Team’s Aleksandr Vaintrub and Stanislav Safronov. The pair have looked faster and faster throughout the year in their Mercedes-AMG and could well figure prominently in the title hunt.
Currently fifth in the points, reigning class champions Michael Blanchemain and Christophe Hamon face a tough fight to retain their crown in their Team Fullmotorsport Audi R8 LMS. But the duo undoubtedly still have the speed to score wins. Similarly, the W&D Racing Team BMW pairing of Paolo Meloni and Massimiliano Tresoldi enjoyed their best weekend ever at Spa. They will be eager to top their two second-place finishes so far and look for their first win of the season.
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