BMW Pairing Sweeps Imola GT4 Weekend
Bas Schouten and Gabriele Piana made an early-season statement in the GT4 European Series opener at Imola by winning both of last weekend’s races in their BMW M4 GT4.
The RN Vision STS Racing duo won Saturday’s race from second on the grid in their Silver Cup car, before dominating on Sunday from pole position.
Race 1 got off to a delayed start after an advertising board fell onto the track, but after the restart it was pole-sitter Cem Bölükbaşı leading the way from Schouten in the Pro-Am BMW run by Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport.
The lead changed during the driver swaps as the Borusan squad hit a delay, enabling the STS Racing BMW to lead with Piana now at the wheel.
The Italian controlled the final stint, building up to a lead of just over 20 seconds, while three cars battled for the podium positions behind him.
As Piana stretched clear, Bölükbaşı’s co-driver Yağız Gedik tried to hold off the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Valentin Hasse-Clot and the Toyota GR Supra GT4 of Gael Castelli.
Both drivers got past after some close-quarters racing with the BMW, although Castelli was forced to relinquish second when his Toyota ran out of fuel minutes from the end.
This promoted Hasse-Clot and Theo Nouet to second, while Gedik completed the overall podium in third and scooped the Pro-Am victory in the process.
In Race 2, Schouten and Piana won from pole as Castelli and Stephane Lemeret delivered a first-ever podium result for the new GT4-class Supra in any competition.
Piana owned the first stint, while Hasse-Clot and Castelli settled into second and third after benefiting from a collision between two Porsches ahead of them at Tamburello.
A full course yellow during the pit window aided some teams more than others, and resulted in the Aston Martin dropping to seventh while Lemeret rose to second.
Race leader Schouten ran untouched for the remainder and crossed the line eight seconds ahead of Lemeret in the CMR-run Toyota and the Allied-Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsports that finished first and second in Pro-Am.
Entries Confirmed for British GT Opener, Season
The Intelligent Money British GT Championship has released its entry lists for this weekend’s delayed 2020 curtain-raiser at Oulton Park and for the full season.
A total of 21 cars including 12 GT3 runners are set for Sunday’s pair of 60-minute races, while the 22-car full-season draw marks a reduction of 13 entries from the original entry list published back in March.
Oulton Park was due to host the opening round of British GT in April before the coronavirus pandemic prompted a rejig of the series calendar.
On the new full-season list, six brands are represented in GT3 by customer teams running cars from Mercedes-AMG, McLaren, Ferrari, Bentley, Lamborghini and Audi.
However, reigning champion TF Sport is no longer present following its decision to cancel its pair of Aston Martin Vantage GT3 entries, while JRM’s Bentley has also withdrawn.
Balfe Motorsport has named a new lineup for its McLaren 720S GT3 that will now be driven by Joe Osborne and Stewart Proctor, rather than Rob Bell and Shaun Balfe. This car will appear in a total of five races, at both Donington rounds and Snetterton.
Beechdean AMR has also adjusted its program and will focus on a single Pro-Am Aston Martin rather than a car each in Pro-Am and the Silver Cup class.
A total of nine GT4s are set for the Oulton Park weekend and the full-season. TF Sport is returning to defend its title with two Aston Martins, while there are also entries from McLaren, Ford, BMW and Toyota teams.
Other News & Notes
***The Global Mazda MX-5 Cup opened its season at Road America with Robert Noaker claiming a sweep of the two Alana Long 100 races. Noaker won from pole twice, while Gresham Wagner and Jared Thomas each earned a second-place result.
***Cooper MacNeil won both of last weekend’s Ferrari Challenge North America Trofeo Pirelli races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, during the main competition part of Ferrari’s Corse Cliente event package. Ferrari Challenge UK also made its return, at Brands Hatch.
***Madpanda Motorsport has finalized its GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup lineup with the signing of Axcil Jefferies. The UAE-based Zimbabwean will share the Madpanda Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with team principal Ezequiel Companc.
***Emil Frey Racing has announced a ‘mobility partnership’ with Peugeot Switzerland, which is supplying three cars to help the Lamborghini team get to this year’s GTWC Europe races.
***17-year-old Italian Jacopo Guidetti has become the second driver to join the new driver development program launched by Honda GT3 and TCR partner JAS Motorsport. Guidetti will race in TCR Italy this year.
***KCMG has withdrawn its Honda NSX GT3 Evo from the Super Taikyu season, due to its drivers not being able to enter Japan under current travel restrictions. Team founder Paul Ip was due to share the car with Josh Burdon, Edoardo Liberati and Hiroki Otsu.
***Nissan has confirmed the cancelation of this year’s annual NISMO Festival, which was scheduled to take place at Fuji Speedway on Dec. 6. A Nissan statement explained that the decision was taken “to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect the health and safety of fans, participating teams, exhibitors, and Nissan and NISMO employees.”
***Austrian driver Mick Wishofer will return to Zakspeed for a second season with the team in ADAC GT Masters. The 20-year-old, who partnered Kelvin Snoeks in 2019, will share a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo with ex-Formula 2 driver Dorian Boccolaccci this year.
***Bentley and Audi GT Masters squad T3 Motorsport has tweaked its name to T3 HRT Motorsport for the coming season, to reflect its partnership with Porsche Carrera Cup squad HRT Performance. HRT Performance is not affiliated to the HRT squad running Mercedes-AMGs in GTWC Europe and NLS.
***Scuderia Ravetto & Ruberti – the team co-run by experienced team principal Manfredi Ravetto and GT racing veteran Paolo Ruberti – has named the drivers for its first season of Italian GT. Luca Demarchi and Gianpiero Cristoni will pilot the team’s Ferrari 488.
***Antonelli Motorsport has confirmed an all-Russian driver lineup for its International GT Open program. Alexander Moiseev will share the team’s Kaspersky-liveried Mercedes-AMG GT3 with 17-year-old SMP F4 graduate Alexey Nesov in the Am class.
***Craft-Bamboo has sued its former CEO and director Richard Coleman for “breach of contractual and fiduciary duties owed to Craft-Bamboo Holdings”. A statement from the business behind the Craft-Bamboo Racing GT team read that “CBH is seeking substantial sums of money on the grounds of breach of fiduciary and/or contractual duty against Richard Coleman.”
***A spokesperson for Richard Coleman’s solicitors “strongly denied” the claim: “This action is nothing new and, in fact, began about three years ago, when Craft-Bamboo Holdings issued proceedings for breach of contract against Mr. Coleman, in Hong Kong. Our client, in turn, issued a significant counter-claim for unpaid monies owed to him. During the proceedings, Craft-Bamboo Holdings have been ordered to pay our client HK$711,000 ($91,700), which they failed to pay for several months.”
***Solicitors representing CBH claim the payment settlement was based on “consensus reached amongst the parties” and that there was “never any failure” to make payment. A hearing has been set for April 21, 2021.
***Aston Martin Racing’s FIA World Endurance Championship team tested at Aragon last week to prepare for next month’s Total 6 Hours of Spa. Sportscar365 understands that the team’s UK-based personnel managed to return home before a new two-week quarantine rule on arrivals from Spain came into effect on Sunday.