GT Open: Nurburgring Rd1 Report
The 2014 European season officially kicked off for teams in the GT Open Championship at Round 1 at the Nurburgring. After recent tests for both V8 Racing and Selleslagh Racing (including 1 race the weekend prior in the BRCC), the teams momentum were very high.
V8 Racing brought three Corvettes to the event: 2 C6Rs (one a former GT1 chassis and one an ex GTE chassis) as well as A 2014 spec Championship winning Callaway Z06.R GT3. Further down the pitlane a former Corvette team returned to the track in the form of Selleslagh Racing Team (SRT). The team that ran for several years with Pratt & Miller Corvettes, recently returned with a newly acquired GTE C6R chassis from last years Corvette Racing campaign. Both teams in a hunt for Championship honours.
For Drivers, V8 Racing brings back the seasoned duo of Miguel Ramos and Nicky Pastorelli. The two pair up in the teams C6R-ZR1. In the GT1 Chassis C6R sits team newcomer Archie Hamilton alongside 2012 Dutch Supercar Champion Dietrich Sijthoff. Rounding out their lineup for the 2014 season is Belgian driver Dylan Derdaele and Dutchman Dennis Retera in the teams Z06.R GT3. SRT bring both Nick Catsburg and Maxime Soulet to pilot their C6R-ZR1.
Qualifying for Saturdays Race 1 saw a razor thin qualifying margin between the pole laptime of the SMP Ferrari and the SRT Corvette (249 thousandths of a second behind), with Ramos in 3rd for V8 Racing. During a sunnier Qualifying session for Race 2, the Corvettes once again showed their pace with Maxime Soulet capturing pole position for SRT ahead of the V8 Racing C6R of Pastorelli by two tenths.
Race 1 was packed with drama and excitement at the start, with the nr6 SRT C6R of Catsburg and the V8 Racing Corvette of Ramos coming together, causing Catsburg to spin and move to the back of the field. Lap 6 saw the deployment of the Safety car after a fire incident with the Porsche of Isaac Tututmlu. Both Catsburg (SRT) and Hamilton (who started last his his C6R because of a broken transmission in Q1), were charging through the field. However Hamiltons race was brought to a premature end with engine issues during that same safety car period.
After the pitstop rounds, Nicky Pastorelli was able to leapfrog into the lead ahead of Schirò, Mavlanov, Maleev, and Cordoni, with Soulet close behind in 6th. On Lap 30 the SRT Corvette managed to pass Niccolo Schiros Ferrari to claim the final podium position. But out front it was the V8 Racing C6R of Pastorelli and Ramos that took top honours, finishing 4 seconds ahead of second.
Race two started without drama at the start, with the nr2 C6R of Pastorelli battling hard against the SRT Corvette of Soulet for the lead for several laps. After pitting from the lead on lapt 15, time lost in the pits saw the nr2 C6R of V8 Racing relegated back to 4th overall at the end of the race. Up front though it was a win this time from the SRT C6R of Catsburg and Soulet to make it an all Corvette weekend of victory. The duo came across the line almost 7 seconds ahead of their nearest rival. Meanwhile, the battle in the GTS class saw a thrilling finish with the nr99 Z06.R of Derdaele and Retera come home an impressive third in only their second race together with V8 Racing.
Nicky Pastorelli (V8 Racing Nr2 C6R): "It was a mixed first weekend for us: Good results with car #2 and #99 but a lot of bad luck for car #4. The races for myself were very positive with a win in the first race and a 4th place in the second race. Race 2 was a little unfortunate though with a push from behind of car #6 that made me lose the lead, as well as some time lost in the pits, but this is racing and things like this happen. With that said, We've showed great speed and I am very confident that we'll be strong for the rest of the season."
Miguel Ramos (V8 Racing Nr2 C6R): "At the start of race 1, I caught Catsburg by surprise, as he was drawing a wider line into the approach to turn 1, but suddenly closed the door and I was already there, so the touch was a bit inevitable. This slight mishap made me momentarily lose the pace and fell to third. The turn 1 contact created some issues with the bodywork, which started rubbing against my front left tyre. Luckily it stabilized, and it allowed me to keep track position near the leaders before handing it over to Nicky. In short, it was a good weekend for V8 Racing and our number 2 Corvette. This time we have started the year well. Before you know, we will quickly reach my home track at the second round of the championship at the Algarve circuit.
"Everyone knows the pleasure of competing in their home race and I am proud to represent my country, especially when the calendar comes time to visit Portugal, which thank God I have been very successful, both with victories in Estoril and in Portimão. In a month we will be in the Algarve. My team V8 Racing are all very motivated to succeed in developing a good job and a good race."
Maxime Soulet (SRT Nr6 C6R): "The weekend went really great for us on Saturday during race 1. I jumped straight into the car with no practice, due to other commitments I had at Spa earlier in the week. Returning in the SRT Vette was a great feeling for me. Nick (my teammate) is a great guy to work with and did the job perfectly throughout the weekend. It was nice to drive with him once again.
The pace of the car was really good for us in race 1, despite the contact at the first corner. I really pushed hard to come back on to the podium. In race 2 I had to push hard at the start to keep Pastorelli behind me, after the pitstop Nick had just to bring the car home. My pole on Sunday and the win in race 2 was exactly what Patrick and the team asked us to achieve. This C6R-ZR1 is one of the best race cars in the world and it is absolutely a dream to drive.
At the moment I am hoping to race again SRT in the GT open, but there are no firm plans for now. On a positive note, I will be back in this car at the second round of the Belgium championship in Dijon and hope to go for the win again."
Nick Catsburg (SRT Nr6 C6R): "We had an awesome weekend at the Nurburgring. P3 in race one and P1 during the second, was really nice, especially for Patrick and his team. My teammate Maxime did a great job as well and it was a pleasure to work with him (as well as SRT). I hope to do some more races for SRT this season, but at the moment it has not been decided."
Live coverage of the remaining rounds of the 2014 GT Open as well as full race replys can be viewed at: corvettemotorsport.com/gtopen