The #1 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4 took victory in the opening race at Zandvoort, the ninth race of the 2019 GT4 European Series season. After 31 laps round the Dutch circuit, Nicolaj Møller-Madsen and Cédric Freiburghaus claimed their first victory of the season. Marius Zug and Gabriele Piana were victorious in the Pro-Am class, while Alessandro Giovanelli and Bob Herber took the win in the Am class.
FIRST WIN OF THE SEASON FOR MØLLER-MADSEN AND FREIBURGHAUS
Pole-sitter Mads Siljehaug held the lead on the run to the first corner, with Nicolaj Møller-Madsen behind the #24 KTM in second place. A great start from Ricardo van der Ende resulted in the Dutchman taking third behind the leading duo. Shortly after a brief full course yellow to recover the stranded #61 Academy Motorsport Aston Martin, Van der Ende was all over Møller-Madsen in battle for second place. The Dutchman tried to pass the Dane into Tarzan corner, but Møller-Madsen kept his Audi in front of the Ekris.
The gaps between the top three cars remained the same for several laps, with Pro-Am leader Duncan Huisman in the #69 V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro closing in on Van der Ende. As the pit window opened, the two Dutch drivers were battling for track position and by lap 13 Huisman had won the position. Four laps later race leader Siljehaug and Huisman came into the pits for the mandatory stop, one lap after Møller-Madsen had come in to hand over the #1 Audi to Cédric Freiburghaus.
Nicolai Elghanayan rejoined in the lead, but shortly after all teams had completed their stops Freiburghaus passed the American to take the lead. On the same lap Elghanayan’s teammate Reinhard Kofler crashed into the tyre wall at turn 2 and soon after Kofler retired the KTM in the pits. Behind them it was Euan McKay in third, until he was given a drive through penalty for track limits. This allowed V8 Racing’s Olivier Hart to take third overall.
At the front, Freiburghaus had established a comfortable lead over Elghanayan, who saw Hart closing in on him lap after lap and on lap 29 the Dutchman overtook the American into Tarzan corner. There wasn’t enough time left for Hart to go after Freiburghaus and two laps later the Swiss driver crossed the line in first place, taking Phoenix Racing’s first win of the 2019 season, with the V8 Racing Camaro of Olivier Hart and Finlay Hutchison taking second in its first outing of 2019.
Behind Freiburghaus and Hart, Elghanayan secured the final podium step for Valvoline – True Racing, with Daniel McKay (Equipe Verschuur) and Jan Kisiel (Leipert Motorsport) taking fourth and fifth in the Silver Cup. The #25 MDM Motorsport BMW completed the overall and Silver Cup top six.
CLASS WINS FOR RN VISION STS AND SELLESLAGH RACING TEAM
Just like the opening race at Misano two weeks ago, RN Vision STS and Selleslagh Racing Team were victorious in Pro-Am and Am. Gabriele Piana and Marius Zug took their third win of the season in the #111 RN Vision STS BMW, finishing seven seconds ahead of the #15 NM Racing Team Ginetta G55 GT4 of Lluc Ibanez and Jorge Cabezas Catalan.
Pro-Am points leaders Luci Trefz and Marcus Paverud finished the first race at Zandvoort in third place, ahead of the Allied Racing Porsche of Jan Kasperlik and Nic Schöll. The #69 V8 Racing Chevrolet Camaro ended the race fifth in class, after reaching third place overall earlier in the race.
The two Schwede Motorsport Mercedes-AMG cars were sixth and seventh, with Jan Rehnig and Dominik Schraml beating Marc Basseng and Phillip Bethke. Sixth in Pro-Am was the second Allied Racing Porsche of Constantin Schöll and Benjamin Mazatis.
Alessandro Giovanelli and Bob Herber won the Am class with the #31 Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG. It was the #48 CMR Alpine that had started the race from pole position, but in the second part of the race the Selleslagh Racing Team crew overtook the Alpine and then went on to win the race. Eric Mouez and David Loger finished in second place, ahead of Street Art Racing’s Clement Seyler and Pascal Bachmann.
Nicolaj Møller-Madsen, #1 Phoenix Racing Audi: « It feels so nice, I’m so happy! Really happy for myself as we finally won, happy for Cedric as it is a new partnership this year, but I think I’m most happy for the guys at Phoenix Racing. They had a hard time this year. They gave us a good car in many races, sometimes we were not able to fight for the win but still managed to get good results and now finally we won. »
Cédric Freiburghaus, #1 Phoenix Racing Audi: « It feels really good. The first victory since a long time. We already had some podiums, but this one feels a lot better. We put it all together with the team. The team did an amazing job, a really good pit stop, Nicolaj did a proper start and kept it clean and I just needed to finish and overtook one car. I’m really happy! »
Gabriele Piana, #111 RN Vision STS BMW: « This is the confirmation that when a race goes normal, we win. We are clearly the fastest pairing there is now in Pro-Am. It is good to bounce back after Misano, but of course us being us we don’t bounce back easily. I had a good start, 80% of the job was done there and then I had some good battles, so it was a good stint. »
Marius Zug, #111 RN Vision STS BMW: « I need to thank the team to get the car repaired in time. Even though we didn’t have time to put in the setup we wanted, we still won the race, so we can be happy with the win. We gained some points in the fight for the championship, but tomorrow we’ll have to fight again. »
Alessandro Giovanelli, #31 Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG: « First time with my new, strong teammate. I learned a lot from him and I tried to do my best. I knew I had a fast teammate, I only did my job to finish the race. »
Bob Herber, #32 Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT4: « This was really good. I was a bit unlucky at the start and I was fighting myself in the beginning and lost some time during the full course yellow. I had some great fights, Alessandro did a great job and under pressure he put the car in P1. Really good. Looking forward to tomorrow. »
Marcel ten Caat,
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