Yes we have a new champion. And what a great champion he is! Ricardo van der Ende didn't put a wheel wrong this season and from round 2 onwards he always was in the top of the standings fighting great and fair battles with Stefano D’Aste. Congratulations Ricardo! Also congratulations to Team Ekris Motorsport for clinching the teams’ title.
But as often in our world happiness and great achievements can be followed by tragedy and disaster. Our thoughts go to the wife, children and family of Dan Wheldon who died last Sunday in the horror crash during the Indycar race. Feel free to visit http://www.danwheldonmemorial.com/ to share your memories of Dan and to offer condolences.
Our thoughts also go to Ciso, Stefano D’Aste’s race engineer, who wasn’t present in Zandvoort and his family who had to cope with heartbreaking news last week.
Race summaries :
Prior to race 1 we lost the RJN Motorsport Nissan 370 Z who crashed during the free practices, we also lost the Team Ningbo BMW M3 GT4 driven by Chris Stockton who crashed during qualifying and the GTR CZ Ginetta n°15 didn’t start because of mechanical issues.
Jeroen Bleekemolen in the Corvette 63 started from pole position and wasn’t in serious trouble for a moment. After 14 laps in the lead he took the chequered flag in front of Dick Freebird (Lotus EVora n°3) and Dennis Retera (Rhesus Aston GT4). Duncan Huisman (Ekris BMW N°50) who was punted off in T1 by Retera, who missed his breaking point, came back to finish 4th in front of Ant Scragg in the Generation AMR Aston GT4. Stefano D’Aste had a bad result finishing 6th due to an engine problem.
Van der Ende had a perfect start and took P1 over from Knap (driving only in the Dutch GT4) by keeping the outside line in T1 and created a gap on Knap (BMW), Zumbrink (BMW also only DUtch), Verheul (Aston GT4), Cor Euser (Lotus Evora GT4) and D'Aste (Lotus Evora). D'Aste took advantage of the fight between the others and got past and started to chase on van der Ende. In the chasing group Verheul in the Aston n°7 got hit and had to retire.D'Aste came a little closer but van der Ende fended it off and got an easy win bringing him closer to the title as D'Aste only finished 2nd. Cor Euser in the n°3 Lotus Evora had a great race and from P6 he got back in 3rd. Peter van der Kolk finished 4th in front of Bernhard van Oranje (BMW 51) and Eduard Leganov (Ginetta 16)
Great start from Huisman in the BMW n°50 followed by Freebird in the Lotus Evora n°3 . Van der Kolk in the Corvette 63 starting from pole lost several places. In lap 6 Freebird passes Huisman. D'Aste comes back on Huisman in lap 7 but then drama as D'Aste has a puncture ruining the race and also the championship. Thank you Stefano for this great season, thank you for the great racing and the great moments on track. If van der Ende finishes he will be the champion. Retera in the n°7 Aston starts to win some places. From lap 11 the mandatory pitstop and drivers changes starts. After the pitstops Euser who took over from Freebird stays in the lead in front of van der Ende who took over from Huisman. The n°6 Aston gets a drive through as their pitstop was too short. Bleekemolen, who took over from van der Kolk, in the Corvette 63 and Verheul, who took over from Retera, in the Aston n°7 start to move up in the rankings with some fast lap times. Drama in lap 23, Euser has a puncture and comes in the pits for a tyre change. Van der Ende gets the lead and storms to victory and the 2011 GT4 CUP Drivers’ title. Bleekemolen finishes 2nd in front of Verheul 3rd.
Ricardo van der Ende : This is not the way I want to win races, but bad luck happens. I’m sorry for Cor and Stefano. I didn’t had any bad luck this year and we didn’t do any mistakes with the team so it’s really great to win 2 races here in Zandvoort and finally clinch the 2011 GT4 CUP title. I’m very very happy and wants to thank everyone for this.
TV footage of race 3 and podium can be seen on http://www.youtube.com/watch?NR=1&v=igH2-2GqLIs
We at SRO want to thank all our GT4-Friends (drivers, teams, tracks, officials, sponsors, supporters, etc) for the great 2011 season. We have started to work on the 2012 season and will communicate soon on the calendar, tracks etc. Thank you all and see you in 2012.