After a troublesome weekend in Slovakia, the GT4 bandwagon moved on to the sand dunes at the historic track of Zandvoort. The team were all hoping for a successful weekend in the Netherlands following trials and tribulations at the Slovakiaring.
The team were greeted by pouring rain for all of Thursday, with the first race of the weekend being the one to put up the tents to keep the cars and the teams dry. The forecast for the rest of the weekend did not appear any better, with rain expected on both Friday and Saturday.
Despite high winds and rain overnight, Friday began without rain and FP1 began with a greasy track, especially on the relatively newly resurfaced start finish straight. Traffic can quickly become a problem around Zandvoort – especially with an expanded field in Zandvoort, with some southern cup teams bringing the total entries to 33 – and as a result, getting a clean lap meant a possible lap time gain of 1.5 to 2 seconds. Laura Kraihamer and Cedric Freiburghaus defamiliarised themselves with the dutch tarmac and slowly brought lap times down in the KTM X-BOW GT4. After an hour of running the #74 True Racing car finished P15, with the drivers reporting the potential of the X-BOW to be much quicker than the pace showed in FP2.
A dry track on Friday afternoon enabled Laura and Cedric to push the KTM hard in FP2. The promised pace increase being evident from both drivers with significant improvements in lap times. Tactical pit lane releases from True Racing’s engineers allowed for some clear, clean laps without the dreaded traffic the drivers had experienced in FP2. When the session ended the #74 car was P4 some 2.2 seconds faster than the car’s best time in FP1, giving the team a boost going into Saturday morning’s qualifying session.
Saturday began with the threat of rain hanging in the air, as the team crossed their fingers, hoping for a dry session. However mother nature had other ideas, the rain soaked the track before qualifying began and wet Pirelli tyres were needed by all the competitors. Cedric was first to qualify in treacherous conditions as the 33 cars began to create a drying line that would benefit the second drivers. Cedric was calm and cool in the wet but was hampered by traffic and put the car on P15 for race one. Laura was next to qualify in conditions that still required the wet tyres, albeit with a dryer line forming around the circuit. As a result, lap times began to drop but the traffic issue was still present. Laura was quick but found she was catching slower cars through the lap and that inhibited her chances of replicating the teams FP2 success. A late change to slicks improved #74’s position significantly but it wasn’t enough to achieve the top 5 start the team was hoping for. At the end of second qualifying, Laura had placed the #74 car on P11 for the start of race two.
After the morning rain had disrupted qualifying, Race one would begin on late Saturday afternoon with strong winds still present but with the track ready for slick tyres. Cedric would start Race one from 15th knowing that the first corner would be difficult to negotiate with 32 other cars in the field. However he did a superb job to keep the X-BOW on the track and avoid any contact – a feat that not many other drivers would be able to claim to have done come the end of race one. The race would be filled with incidents and retirements, with several cars coming together unnecessarily, ruining their races. Cedric however, kept his cool, picked off several cars and managed a safety car period before handing the #74 over to Laura to complete the race with the car in P5. Laura left the pits knowing she would have to make up places to achieve a good result, and sure enough she set about dispatching car after car. Consistent and clean laps were the order of the day and Laura did not disappoint, only the safety car ending her charge up the field. After 2 laps behind the safety car, with the race in its final minutes the race directors red flagged the race, ending any hopes of more overtakes. Laura and Cedric’s calm and calculated driving giving them a final position of 9th overall. A top ten finish being very welcome after the difficulties in wet qualifying.
Sunday was mercifully dry, with the sun making an appearance for once in amounts the sand dunes. Laura started race two from 11th on the grid and, like Cedric, successfully negotiated the turn one carnage to begin her rise up the order. However after only 5 laps, a Ginetta pulled over to the side of the circuit with flames billowing out from under its engine. As the flames quickly engulfed the car and with the driver safely out, the decision was made to red flag the race until the fire could be dealt with. As the cars sat in Parc Ferme conditions in the pit lane, the race director authorised driver changes before the restart and Cedric rushed to strap himself into the #74 before the train of cars left the pit lane. After the safety car released the pack and the racing began, Cedric set about making up positions, systematically dispatching rivals and moving up the order. As the race moved into its final few laps and with Cedric tantalisingly close to the cars in front, another safety car put and end to the Swiss driver’s progress. The race was neutralised and with one final clear lap, the gap to the car in front was 0.3 seconds across the line. Both Laura and Cedric had driven a great race and True Racing finished in 8th place, overall.
Another topsy turvy GT4 weekend came to an end, and the team have now turned their attention to the season finale at the Nurburgring on the weekend of the 16th and 17th of September. We hope you will join us there, or watch the races live via the GT4 youtube channel. Thank you once again for all your support, we will see you at the Nurburgring.