Milan Dontje and Nicolaj Møller-Madsen have claimed the GT4 European Series Silver Cup title in dramatic fashion today. A fifth-place finish for the Phoenix Racing Audi was enough to secure the championship, following shock retirements of the #1 MDM Motorsport BMW and #55 HHC Motorsport Ginetta. All three crews finish the season level of points, but Dontje and Møller-Madsen clinched the title by virtue of having more race wins than their opponents this season. Victory in the second race at the Nürburgring went to the #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren of Finlay Hutchison and Ricardo van der Ende, while Markus Lungstrass was successful with victory in the Pro-Am class. With his win Lungstrass also clinched the drivers’ title as well as the teams’ title for Racing One.
VAN DER ENDE/HUTCHISON TAKE RACE WIN, PHOENIX RACING DRIVERS WIN TITLE
Ricardo van der Ende started the final race of the season from pole and the outgoing champion was still leading and oblivious to the drama that was unfolding behind him when the #111 RN Vision STS BMW M4 GT4 tapped the #35 CMR Alpine A110 GT4 into a spin at turn 2.
Nicolaj Møller-Madsen missed the spinning Alpine, but Max Koebolt and Stuart Middleton were less fortunate. Koebolt could not avoid the Alpine and crashed into it, while Middleton’s Ginetta was hit on the side by the #3 Phoenix Racing trying to steer clear from the damaged cars.
The #1 MDM Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 retired on the spot, while the Ginetta continued. The safety car was deployed and when it returned to the pit at the end of lap 5 Møller-Madsen was third and Middleton was sixth, which at that point would be enough for the British driver to clinch the title.
However, the damage inflicted to the Ginetta on the opening lap caused it to catch fire during the mandatory pit stop. HHC Motorsport sent Tregurtha back out, but it soon became apparent that it was a serious issue and he returned to the pit. Firefighters put out the fire, but it was the end of the race for the British car.
It turned out to be the decisive moment in the championship as the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 was still running and despite Dontje losing two places, the gap to the BMW of Razvan Umbrarescu was big enough to secure fifth place and the Silver Cup on race wins.
Hutchison, meanwhile, drove a faultless race and after 25 laps the Equipe Verschuur driver was the first to take the chequered flag, securing his and Van der Ende’s second win of the season. BMW Motorsport Juniors Nico Menzel and Beitske Visser finished in second place, 10 seconds behind the McLaren, while Selleslagh Racing Team’s Bas Schouten and Gilles Magnus completed the Silver Cup podium at the Nürburgring.
PRO-AM AND TEAMS TITLE FOR RACING ONE, SCHÖLL WINS AGAIN IN AM
The title fight in the Pro-Am category wasn’t as close as the fight in Silver Cup, but Marc Basseng and Phillip Bethke kept the pressure on Racing One’s Markus Lungstrass until the last minutes of the race.
Basseng started the race from the class pole position and the German driver avoided the drama in turn 2. Lungstrass’ teammate Jules Szymkowiak followed him in fourth place, knowing that by just finishing the race Lungstrass would win the title.
The #13 Schwede Motorsport Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR managed to stay ahead after the driver changes, but Lungstrass began to reel in Bethke and soon he was behind the Porsche. The two raced each other for a number of laps, but right before the end Lungstrass passed Bethke to take the win and the titles. Basseng and Bethke finished second in the race as well as the championship, with RN Vision STS drivers Miguel Cristovao and Pavel Lefterov completing the Pro-Am podium.
Nicolas Schöll was the best driver in the Am category again, dominating the second race of the weekend. The Allied-Racing driver was one of many drivers given a drive through penalty, but he managed to get back into the lead. The #42 Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR eventually finished almost 27 seconds clear of the #39 3Y Technology BMW M4 GT4 of Delomier and Debs and the #27 CMR Alpine A110 GT4 of Loger and Mouez. The Am championship was already won by Niki Leutwiler in yesterday's race.
Finlay Hutchison, #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4: “As a team and a brand, we really needed this. This year has been great, I’ve learned so much from Ricardo. Big thanks to him. He did a great job today and gave me the car in the lead with a big gap!”
Ricardo van der Ende, #10 Equipe Verschuur McLaren 570S GT4: “I was already really happy with the lap yesterday that put us on pole. I think Equipe Verschuur really deserved this, as we had a hard time last couple of races. It hasn’t been our season, but I’m very happy with this win. Everyone will remember the last race, so they will remember this one.”
Jules Szymkowiak, #77 Racing One Audi R8 LMS GT4: “It was a bit hectic at the second corner, but I could avoid it. I was able to push straight away. I couldn’t really use the car as we had the safety car and then a long yellow, so I stayed safe, didn’t make any mistakes and gave the car to Markus as soon as possible. He then gave us the win!”
Markus Lungstrass, #77 Racing One Audi R8 LMS GT4: “I was really nervous. The team did a perfect job. Jules just did everything right, no mistakes. I stayed behind Bethke for a couple of laps and then overtook him. I’m mega happy and I’m super super proud of Martin Kohlhaas and Racing One to win the team title and Pro-Am in the first year.”
Nicolas Schöll, #42 Allied-Racing Porsche Cayman GT4 CS MR: “It was a great start of the race. Making up ten places in the first two corners was really good. We then had two drive through penalties, which was quite hard to accept. Allied Racing has done a fantastic job as always and the car was just incredible.”
Milan Dontje, #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4: “Wow. This was our lucky race. We had some bad luck this season but were fortunate today. The two cars in front of us retired and when I was in the car I knew I had to finish fifth or better. I finished fifth, though I didn’t have the best of races. But in the end it was enough to win the championship and I’m really happy.”
Nicolaj Møller-Madsen, #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4: “It’s amazing. In the first race we were strong but made a mistake. That has been the story of our season, we are fast but made too many mistakes. Now it doesn’t really matter, we are champion and we were the best team on the grid. We won the championship because we have most wins.”
Martin Kohlhaas, Team owner Racing One: “It was a hard championship and we had some bad luck in the first races, but at the end we made no mistakes. We had a perfect driver pairing at the end and I think the team, the drivers and Audi Sport were a good combination. I’m very happy that we are Pro-Am and team champions!”