Ekris Motorsport has claimed its third victory of the 2017 GT4 European Series Northern Cup at the Slovakia Ring this evening. The #8 Ekris M4 GT4 of Ricardo van der Ende and Max Koebolt dominated the race from start to finish, finishing almost five seconds clear of the second placed car. Gabriele Piana and Razvan Umbrarescu took the win in the Pro-AM class and Autorlando Sport drivers Giuseppe Ghezzi and Alessandro Giovanelli won the AM class.
At the start pole setter Jan Kasperlik moved over to the left to keep the Equipe Verschuur McLaren and the Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati behind, allowing Max Koebolt to take the lead into the first corner, ahead of Mór.
An early incident for the #50 Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati GranTurismo MC GT4, the #54 RYS Team Pankl KTM suffering a right rear puncture and a glass on the track resulted in a safety car. Nine minutes later the safety car came in again and the race was restarted.
Koebolt continued to lead after the safety car period and eventually pulled away from the McLaren of Csaba Mór, who was battling with the Autorlando Sport Porsche of Alessandro Giovanelli. Academy Motorsport’s William Moore followed in fifth place, ahead of Kasperlik.
During the pit stop window Ekris Motorsport made no mistake, which allowed Ricardo van der Ende to stay in the lead. Street Art Racing driver Jerome Demay’s chances of scoring valuable points in the battle for second were dealt a blow, after the Belgian team’s pit stop was too short and the Aston Martin Vantage had to serve a stop and go penalty.
After the stops Van der Ende lead Matt Nicoll-Jones, with Finlay Hutchison in third, but the Equipe Verschuur driver was soon under pressure from RN Vision STS driver Gabriele Piana and it didn’t take long before Piana overtook the McLaren 570S GT4 to take third overall and first in Pro-AM.
Nicoll-Jones was unable to catch Van der Ende and after 25 laps the Dutchman crossed the line to take Ekris Motorsport’s third win of the 2017 season. Matt Nicoll-Jones finished 4.997s later in second place, with Piana claiming third overall and first in Pro-AM, 7.685s behind the race winners.
TM-Racing.org’s Peter Terting had initially closed in on Piana, but struggled towards the end and he and Daniel Rymes had to settle for fourth place overall and second in Pro-AM. The #77 Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati of Paolo Meloni and Massimiliano Tresoldi came home in fifth place, taking the final Silver Cup podium place.
Finlay Hutchison and Csaba Mór eventually finished in sixth place, ahead of RN Vision STS drivers Pavel Lefterov and John-Louis Jasper and Las Moras Racing McLaren of Luc Braams and Duncan Huisman. The Dutch pairing also claimed the third and final Pro-AM podium position.
Despite running as high as third overall, Giuseppe Ghezzi and Alessandro Giovanelli crossed the line in 12th place. This was good enough to claim victory in the AM class, ahead of Scuderia Villorba Corse’s Romy Dall’Antonia and Giuseppe Fascicolo and the #21 Allied-Racing Porsche of Joachim Bölting and Nikolaus Schelle, who scored a podium finish on their series debut.
Max Koebolt (#8 Ekris Motorsport Ekris M4 GT4): “It was a good race. I was able to get the lead right at the start, which I really didn’t expect. I had a clean start, the Porsche in front of me moved over and was able to pass him into turn 1. From that moment on I was able to control the race and pull away from the cars behind me, until the pit stops. We did not make a mistake and have made another step towards the title.”
Ricardo van der Ende (#8 Ekris Motorsport Ekris M4 GT4): “All credits to Max. For me it really was a walk in the park, I only had to finish it. Max did a super job and has shown real progress this season so far. He is still in his teens and when you can take the start like he did and have such a strong first lap, you’re really something special.”
Razvan Umbrarescu (#111 RN Vision STS Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4): “It was a hard race, but a rewarding race. We worked really hard for this and everything worked perfectly in the end, so I am really happy. I hope we can repeat it tomorrow.”
Gabriele Piana (#111 RN Vision STS Porsche Cayman CS MR GT4): “Razvan did a great job at the beginning by keep the car up front and still manage to save the tires. I tried to be smooth with the car to try and bring it to the end. I overtook the class leader as he came out of the pit and I knew I had P1. Terting was behind me, but I ultimately I had more pace.”
Source. SRO Motorsports Group/Photo. Chris Schotanus/SRO Motorsports Group