The GT4 European Series will get underway at Imola this weekend after an extended break forced by the COVID-19 pandemic. The series will make its first ever appearance on the fast, 4.9km Italian circuit near Bologna, which hosted the San Marino Grand Prix until 2006.
A total of 17 GT4 cars will take part in the opening event of the 2020 season, with grid numbers down on last year because of the challenges posed by the pandemic. Although the effect of the pandemic is visible, the fights for victory in the Silver, Pro-Am and Am Cup classes are set to be as exciting as ever before, with all participating teams and drivers eager to get started again.
Toyota to make GT4 European Series debut in competitive Silver Cup
The Silver Cup will feature seven teams for the season opener at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari. French squad CMR has the privilege of giving the Toyota GR Supra GT4 its GT4 European Series debut. Gael Castelli and Stéphane Lémeret will share one of the team’s two cars, with Antoine Potty and Timothé Buret racing the other car. They will face fierce competition from RN Vision STS Racing Team, which has entered two BMW M4 GT4s this season. Gabriele Piana will return to the series with Dutchman Bas Schouten as his new teammate, while Mark van der Aa and Koen Bogaerts switched from MDM Motorsport to RN Vision STS.
V8 Racing will also be competing for victory in the Silver Cup, with Dutch youngsters Jop Rappange and Thijmen Nabuurs behind the wheel of the Dutch team’s powerful Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R. NM Racing Team has switched from Ginetta to Mercedes-AMG, with Spanish drivers Lluc Ibanez and Xavier Lloveras ready to get their new season underway, while AGS Events will make its series debut with Aston Martin. French drivers Valentin Hasse-Clot and Theo Nouet are the drivers aiming to collect as much silverware as possible this season.
Mix of experience and youthful talent in Pro-Am Cup
Allied-Racing will field a pair of entries in the Pro-Am class of the 2020 championship and the German squad will have high hopes of success. Team owner Jan Kasperlik will share his Porsche with young Danish talent Bastian Buus, with established GT4 racers and former champions Nicolaj Møller-Madsen and Jörg Viebahn teaming up in the team’s second entry.
They will take on the Centri Porsche Ticino entry of Swiss drivers Ivan Jacoma and Joel Camathias, as well as the Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW of Turkish drivers Yagiz Gedik and eSports racer Cem Bölükbasi. The Pro-Am class is completed by a Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT4 for Wim Spinoy from Belgium and Kay van Berlo from the Netherlands.
Five-way battle in Am Cup for season opener at Imola
Autorlando Sport returns to the GT4 European Series after a one-year break and will field two Porsches in the Am class for 2017 Am champion Giuseppe Ghezzi, Totò Riolo, Dario Cerati and Maurizio Fratti. They will compete against Nicolas Gomar and Gilles Vannelet in an AGS Events Aston Martin and Fatih Ayhan and Ibrahim Okyay in a Borusan Otomotiv Motorsport BMW. Sammarinese W&D Racing Team will compete on a race-by-race basis, with Paolo Meloni and Stefano Valli aiming to shine in the first of two home events.
Action-packed weekend in store at Imola
The GT4 European Series is not the only series to get its season underway at Imola. The series joins the support package the GT World Challenge Europe Powered by AWS, which is set to kick off its season with a three-hour Endurance Cup race in Italy with 46 GT3 cars. Single-seater action is provided by the Formula Renault Eurocup.
The first weekend of the 2020 GT4 European Series season will begin with paid testing sessions on Thursday 23 July, followed by two one-hour free practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying for the opening rounds gets underway Saturday at 11.10. The opening race of the season is set to start at 16.15 on Saturday, with the second and final race of the weekend scheduled for Sunday 9.45. Both races will be shown live on the GT4 European Series Facebook page and SRO Motorsport Group’s GT World YouTube channel.
Nina Pfiffner, Series Manager GT4 European Series: “Before the COVID-19 outbreak, we had the potential to have over 35 cars again at the start of the new GT4 European Series season. Unfortunately, the uncertain situation forced a large number of drivers and teams to change their original programs or even put their 2020 plans on hold. This has led to a reduction in the number of entries for this season. We know it has been a tough period for everyone and we are happy to have these 17 cars on the grid for our opening round at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari in Imola. We hope that the global situation will improve soon and we are confident that teams will return to the GT4 European Series, as soon as it is possible again for them.”
Source. SRO Motorsports Group