Lots of Sun, many spectators on the grandstands and the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC)… Everything was at place to make the start of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux a real success! The competitors of Benelux were sharing the track with their colleagues of the Porsche Carrera Cup France.
Race 1: Güven and Grouwels first winners
35 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup started the first race of the season. It was an action packed race with a crash of Didier Van Dalen (Kronos Porsche Centre), resulting in one of the two safety car phases during the race. Ayhancan Güven (Attempto Racing) was leading the race in the Benelux championship, fighting against Italian Rovera and Frenchman Andlauer in the overall standings.
“I had a long break this winter, far away from the circuits. This race is a bit of a comeback for me,” Ayhancan Güven said. “But this win is a good result. A good start to the season, and I hope this is just a start.”
Right behind the young Turkish driver, Glenn Van Parijs (Belgium Racing) improved compared to last year and stayed in the tracks of the leader. He then earned the points of second place in the Benelux championship. The driver from Brussels was followed by the Dutchman Max Van Splunteren (GP Elite), Dylan Derdaele (Belgium Racing) and Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing), which made for five ‘Benelux’ riders in the top-8.
“This is a nice return to the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux”, smiled Max Van Splunteren. “It is a pity of the two safety car breaks, also because I did not manage to keep my tires at the right temperature behind the Safety Car. Anyway, it is always good to start a season with a podium place. ”
In the Class B, the Dutch dictated the law, with a victory for Roger Grouwels (RaceArt) followed by Menno Van de Grizzly (GP Elite). The vice-champion 2017 of the class B, the Belgian Pierre Piron (Kronos Porsche Center) in third place with his 911 GT3 Cup (991) of the first generation. Bas Barenburg (RaceArt) and rider Sandra Van der Sloot (Squadra Aragosta) completed the top-5.
Race 2: Maassen keeps everyone off, The Class B is dominated by the Gray
Less than two hours before the start of the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa, the 35 Porsche drivers of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux and the Porsche Carrera Cup France were able to provide their part of the spectacle for the crowded stands. And there was a spectacle.
In contrast to the first race, the start of the second confrontation was not flawless. Some riders lost control of their car, which meant that other cars did not have a chance. Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing), Berkay Besler (Toksport WRT) and Jurgen Van Hover (Speedlover) were the most important victims of the ‘Benelux’ drivers, their match was immediate. Front driver Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing) got away well, but in the hairpin of La Source he missed his braking point, so he was passed by some participants of the French Cup. The Dutchman, however, kept the leading position in the Benelux ranking, ahead of Glenn Van Parijs and Ayhancan Güven. Because of the incidents at the start, the game was neutralized, which afterwards led to an entertaining sprint.
Eventually Xavier Maassen held his first place to the end, although after the restart he was threatened by Van Parijs and Güven. However, they quickly had their hands full, even though Max Van Splunteren (GP Elite) got involved in the battle for the podium places. After some muscled duels, Güven tapped as second Benelux driver – giving him the leading position in the Benelux ranking – ahead of Van Splunteren and Van Parijs. Dylan Derdaele (Belgium Racing) came fifth over the line.
“During the first race I drove in function of the championship”, Xavier Maassen stated afterwards. “No risks, grab points. I liked the fact that I could leave pole for race 2 and the entire WEC audience. In the race itself I especially thought of the points for the Benelux championship.”
In Class B, the second race was dominated by Menno Van de Grijspaarde, who was in lead from start to finish. Pierre Piron improved with a second place compared to the day before, in the battle for third place Roger Grouwels just preceded his brother Edward. Ziad Geris (GP Elite) finished fifth.
After an eventful opening weekend, the riders of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux are now preparing for a next hugely popular meeting, the Jumbo Racing Days by Max Verstappen, at the end of this month in Zandvoort. They will be accompanied by their French colleagues on the dune circuit.