There should be a flash banner here. There are 2 main reasons why you may not be able to see it:
  • You do not have the required version of Flash MX installed (v8.0+) in your browser
  • JavaScript is disabled in your browser

Benelux GT4 Cup, Zandvoort - Race Reports

The Benelux GT4 Cup and HTC Dutch GT4 Championship kicked off their seasons together at the Zandvoort circuit this Easter weekend. Lotus and Corvette were the big winners of the opening round. 25000 spectators came to watch the races.

On Friday afternoon the 23 teams that were entered for the first round took part in the two scheduled qualifying sessions. After a delayed start, yellow and red flags and lots of reviewing from the stewards - who excluded 3 cars from qualifying and disallowed the fastest times from 8 cars - the fastest times were set by Jan Joris Verheul (Aston Martin) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (Corvette). Bleekemolen’s lap time of 1:46.853 was the fastest time ever set by a GT4 car on the Zandvoort circuit.

In the first race on Saturday the overall win went to the Lotus Evora GT4 of former WTCC driver Stefano D’Aste. As the lights went to green the Lotus moved to first place, but pole sitter Jan Joris Verheul managed to reclaim the lead not much later. With Verheul and D’Aste focussing on each other, Chris Stockton (Ginetta) and Simon Knap (BMW) closed in on the leaders. On lap 8 D’Aste moved into the lead as Verheul had asked too much of his tyres. The Aston was then hit by the Ginetta of Stockton and dropped to third, while Stockton retired. Knap took advantage and moved into second place. He was unable to close the gap to the Lotus Evora however and after 14 laps it was Stefano D’Aste who took the overall and the Benelux GT4 Cup win. Knap finished second overall and first in the HTC Dutch GT4 Cup at 2.980 seconds from D’Aste. Jan Joris Verheul finished in third place.

On Easter Monday the action resumed with two more races. The first race was started behind the safety car as Cor Euser (Lotus) retired on the warm-up lap. Pole sitter Jeroen Bleekemolen, back from the Le Mans Test Day, had the best start and went into the Tarzan corner still in first. Ricardo van der Ende (BMW) was the only driver to be able to keep up with Bleekemolen, while Stefano D’Aste moved up into third.

When Phil Bastiaans crashed his Porsche the safety car made another brief appearance and when the race was resumed the three leaders were still close to each other. Bleekemolen was unable to get rid of his rivals, but as D’Aste and Van der Ende started fighting for P2 he managed to create a small gap. Things would stay the same as the chequered flag came out after 13 laps. Bleekemolen won the second race, 1.108 seconds ahead of Van der Ende and 1.583 seconds ahead of Stefano D’Aste.

The third and final race of the weekend saw the Lotus Evora GT4 of Stefano D’Aste pulling away at the start. Dennis Retera (Aston) and Simon Knap followed at some distance. Bleekemolen’s teammate Peter van de Kolk dropped down to seventh place.

After twelve laps the pit window opened and Van der Kolk came in to hand over the Corvette to Bleekemolen. D’Aste and Knap followed a lap later. Bleekemolen did everything possible to get back to the front and cut through the field - setting lap times that were almost two seconds quicker than his rivals. Simon Knap’s chances were gone after suffering a puncture, he returned to the pit and eventually finished in eighth place. Bleekemolen stayed out of trouble but ran out of time to catch the Lotus Evora. After 27 laps Stefano D’Aste crossed the line to take the win, Jeroen Bleekemolen finishing in second place, just 1.080 seconds behind. Phil Bastiaans secured third place in the Porsche he shared with Jan Lammers.

The next round of the GT4 Cup will take place on June 5/6 at Silverstone. Interestingly the series seems to have been renamed from GT4 European Cup to Benelux GT4 Cup, this was the name on the time sheets. The HTC Dutch GT4 Championship will have its second round at Zandvoort on June 12/13.