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GT4 Cup/Dutch GT4, Zandvoort - Weekend Report

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The SRO GT4 Cup and the HTC Dutch GT4 Championship raced at Zandvoort again this weekend in the final round of the 2011 season. Nineteen cars had been entered for this round, but even before lap had been completed the number of cars had been reduced by three.

In the free practice sessions on Friday RJN Motorsport’s Jann Mardenborough crashed the Nissan 370Z coming out of the last corner. Mardenborough walked away and was cleared after a quick check-up in the medical centre, the Nissan was damaged beyond immediate repair and RJN Motorsport had already left the circuit early Saturday morning.

Also out before the first qualifying session was the Camaro of Morien and Verschuur - the #21 only taking part in practice.

Qualifying

As the RJN Motorsport transporter was seen leaving Zandvoort the GT4 cars went out for their qualifying runs. In the first qualifying session it was Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Corvette who set the fastest time, a 1:46.115. Unfortunately for Chris Stockton his weekend ended in qualifying as he crashed the Team Ningbo BMW M3 GT4 coming out of the Tarzan corner. Duncan Huisman qualified second, with Simon Knap setting the third fastest time.

In Qualifying 2 it was Knap who posted the fastest overall time, a 1:46.176. Best of the GT4 Cup entrants was the BMW M3 GT4 of Ricardo van der Ende in second place, just 0.044s behind Knap. Verheul was third fastest overall and GT4 Cup title contender Stefano d’Aste was fifth overall.

Race 1

Bleekemolen got away at the start of race 1 but behind him the BMW M3 GT4 of Duncan Huisman was pushed into a spin by Dennis Retera. Fortunately for Huisman (and teammate Van der Ende) the BMW was not collected by any of the other cars and Huisman could continue. After 1 lap Bleekemolen’s lead over D’Aste was over two seconds already and the Corvette driver kept pulling away.

D’Aste meanwhile hit trouble and saw several cars closing in. On lap 4 Knap passed the Lotus but before the chequered flag came out he would also drop behind the Lotus of Dick Freebird, the Aston of Retera, the BMW of Huisman and the Aston of Ant Scragg. In the final laps Bleekemolen upped the pace and secured the win. D’Aste eventually finished sixth in the GT4 Cup classification.

Race 2

Pole-sitter Knap was unable to take advantage of the front row grid position at the start of race two and into the Tarzan corner Ricardo van der Ende had already taken the lead. The BMW driver pulled away from the rest of the field, in which rival D’Aste was only fifth at the end of the first lap. D’Aste would not give up however and quickly made his way up through the field. By lap 3 the Italian in Lotus Evora was already back in second place, behind Van der Ende. The gap between the two was already four seconds and D’Aste was unable to catch the Dutchman. Cor Euser behind them showed the pace of the Lotus and after overtaking Knap and Verheul Euser took third place. He would finish 11 seconds behind race winner Van der Ende.

Race 3

The final race of the season would decide who would be crowned in the GT4 Cup. Ricardo van der Ende had an 11-points lead over Stefano D’Aste, which meant Van der Ende needed to take a third place finish should the Italian win the feature race.

Van der Kolk started from pole position but Huisman and Freebird managed to pass the Corvette around the outside in the Tarzan corner. Huisman and Freebird fought for the lead, whilst D’Aste got into a fight with Knap for third place. After five laps Freebird passed Huisman for the lead, but with D’Aste still behind Huisman knew he only had to hand over the car to Van der Ende in perfect condition. When D’Aste suffered a puncture and had to come in early everything seemed over for the Italian.

As the pit window opened Wim van Genderen came in too fast and crashed his Camaro into the pit wall. Fortunately he didn’t block the pit entry, but the Camaro was retired from the race. Euser was in the lead after all pit stops had been completed, three seconds clear of Van der Ende.

The BMW M3 GT4 closed in on the Lotus Evora GT4 but just when Van der Ende had closed the gap to just under a second disaster struck for Euser as well, like D’Aste he suffered a puncture on his Lotus. Van der Ende inherited the lead, Bleekemolen moved up to second and Verheul to third.

Van der Ende was unchallenged in the remaining laps and crossed the line to take the win and the title, a double title after winning the Dutch GT4 Championship last month at Assen.

Ricardo van der Ende finished the season with 211 points. Huisman moved up into second place after the win in the final race (183 points) and Stefano D’Aste finished third (180 points).

MtC