The old and the new
Following a successful maiden campaign last year, Razvan Umbrarescu commits himself again to a full season of GT4 action at the highest level. Teaming up with Gabriele Piana and the Razvan Umbrarescu in the RN Vision ST squad, the 25-year old from Bacau (Romania) aims for speed and consistency across the six double-headers of the SRO-sanctioned European Series.
We revisit Brands Hatch, Misano and the Nurburgring in 2018, while there will be three new tracks to master: Zolder, Hungaroring and mighty Spa-Francorchamps. The greatest novelty for Umbrarescu will be the car, as he switches from a Porsche Cayman to the latest BMW challenger: M4 GT4.
Four wins in twelve starts in 2017 have promoted Razvan to FIA Silver grading, thus classifying the Piana partnership as a Silver Cup entrant this year. This is the most challenging category of the three defined in the GT4 European Series, providing the most overall winners in the previous year.
Preparing for the new season
Following the completion of the 2017 GT4 European Series Northern Cup as vice-champion in the Pro-Am category, Razvan Umbrarescu was a guest entrant in the Porsche Sports Cup Germany at Hockenheim, then had the first contact with the M4 GT4 at Oschersleben, in a collective test session organized by the Bavarian motorsport division. The Romanian enrolled afterwards for a physical and mental preparation stage at Formula Medicine, the centre for elite motorsports athletes founded by Dr. Ceccarelli.
The order was subsequently placed by RN Vision STS and the team got hold of their new racecar at a special event in Munich, at the BMW Welt on the 25th of October. Afterwards, the M4 GT4 hit the tracks, with Umbrarescu having his first outing at Portimao (Portugal) in a three-day test. A more comprehensive setup programme took place mid-January at Monteblanco (Spain), Portimao and Jerez (Spain), where softer homologated springs drastically improved the handling of the BMW machine.
The opening round
Zolder was selected as a starting point for all GT4 European Series activities, with a collective test on the 8th of March having little relevance in terms of ultimate pace due to rain. More miles were gathered a week later on the same piece of tarmac in a group session under the BMW factory radar. The championship starts with this Belgian visit between the 6th and the 8th of March, on a 4-km track that hosted 10 Formula One Grand Prix and claimed the life of Canadian ace Gilles Villeneuve in 1982.
Nowadays, Zolder is a recurring venue in most European GT and touring car series. SRO has streamlined the weekend programmes for 2018, pairing the GT4 European Series with the next step on the ladder, the Blancpain Sprint Series that runs with GT3 machinery.
Most manufacturers, including BMW, are now running customer operations in both echelond and the expectations are high from the M4 GT4 that Umbrarescu and his colleagues will be debuting in the top-tier GT4 championship at the end of the week!
Source. West Competition Racing