After a testing Misano meeting and a much improved performance at Brands Hatch, The European GT4 series northern cup moved to the Red Bull Ring in Austria for round three. Greeted by perfect weather conditions in the home country of KTM, the team were eager to put what they had learned over the past two rounds into practice and show what the KTM X-BOW GT4 could do at its home track.
Free practice one was run in glorious Austrian sunshine and with initial car setup suiting both Laura Kraihamer and Cedric Freiburghaus; only a heavy ballast load, due to balance of performance, held back the Austrian and Swiss driver pairing. Both drivers posted some fast and consistent lap times, improving more every lap around the fast, flowing Red Bull Ring circuit. At the chequered flag, True Racing sat 11th overall and 6th in the newly introduced Silver cup class. This class is for driver pairings where both drivers are FIA rated silver drivers.
Free practice two was again run in bright sunshine with air temperatures nearing 30 degrees Celsius. Cedric was, once again, first in the car and set consistent lap times despite high track temperatures of around 45 degrees Celsius. At the pitstop a near perfect racing driver change was honed ready for qualifying and the two upcoming races. Unfortunately, when Laura went to pull away from the pit box, the car appeared to stall and coasted to the end of the pit-lane. After further inspection, it was determined that the gearbox had failed and chief mechanic Martin Tratz set about performing a full gearbox and clutch change. Four hours later and Martin’s hard work paid off as the car was rebuilt and ready to be driven in anger in qualifying the next morning. After only running in half the session, True Racing finished FP2 with a time good enough for 18th overall and 9th in class.
Saturday dawned with an overnight storm still lingering, leaving the track soaked and a wet qualifying session looming. An overnight balance of performance change helped the X-BOW’s performance with a reduced ballast load, however wet conditions meant that the increase in performance would be difficult to see during qualifying. Cedric began the session, clearing water for several laps before being able to post some competitive lap times. Tricky conditions dealt with, Cedric posted a lap good enough for 14th on the grid for Race one, 8th in class.
Unperturbed by her lack of running in FP2, Laura jumped into the car for the second part of qualifying and, with the track drying, lap times began to improve up and down the pit-lane. After a series of fast laps, Laura qualified the #74 KTM in 14th also, 9th in class.
A dry track greeted the cars for race one of the weekend, with Cedric lining up the #74 in grid slot number 14. The grid of 31 cars all vied for position into turn one and Cedric used his experience to avoid any collisions at the start. An early accident for one of the McLaren cars saw the first safety car of the weekend, and the field was once again bunched together for a total of 5 laps. After an excellent restart, Cedric began to pick his way through the pack, expertly dispatching several cars, utilising the KTM’s superior handling through the twisty third sector. At the pitstop the #74 sat 7th overall after a sterling drive from Cedric Freiburghaus. Laura would be tasked with taking the car to the chequered flag. She quickly got to grips with the car in very different conditions and maintained Cedric’s excellent pace from earlier in the race. 20 minutes later, and after two more excellent overtaking manoeuvres by Laura, the #74 Team True Racing KTM X-BOW GT4 came home to finish 5th overall and 3rd on the silver cup podium – the first podium for the team this year.
Race two on Sunday morning saw slightly cooler track temperatures but once again clear blue skies met the teams in the southern Austrian alps. Laura Kraihamer would start the car from 13th on the grid, once place up from her qualifying position, due to a non-starter. After another measured start with no drama, Laura set about replicating Cedric’s first stint from the previous day. After some brilliant overtaking to move up to 11th, an unfortunate spin in turn one on lap 5 dropped the #74 down to 24th. Laura did well to recover and maintain race pace, gaining three places before the pitstop window opened. Cedric then assumed control of the #74 and continued Laura’s good work with several stunning overtakes. True Racing’s race would come to an abrupt end with 18 minutes remaining, when contact with a Porsche Cayman caused irreparable damage. Cedric did his best to wrestle the car back into the pits, however it was not feasible to continue and retirement from 19th place ended the weekend on a low note.
Team True Racing had a mixed weekend at the stunning Red Bull Ring in Austria, with gearbox failure after FP2, the team’s first podium of the year in race one and a DNF in race two. The KTM X-BOW GT4 showed that it is a force to be reckoned with in European GT4 and the team are now looking forward to more podium opportunities at the Slovakia Ring in Slovakia on the 15th and 16th of July.
Thank you for all your support and we hope to see you in Slovakia,
Team True Racing