Circuit Zolder formed a beautiful framework for the fifth and penultimate meeting of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux 2018, the fastest one-make series in the Benelux. Under a beautiful late summer sun, the crowd was present and could see two beautiful matches of the 18 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup as part of the FIA Truck Grand Prix.
Race 1: Güven, van Splunteren strong
Ayhancan Güven (Attempto Racing) seems to be able to cope with the pressure without any problems. Although he knows that this meeting is crucial in the title race, the leader in the championship drives twice to the pole position. And at the start of the first 30-minute race, the 20-year-old Turk stays in front of Max van Splunteren (GP Elite) in the first left-handed turn without much problems.
Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing), fourth on the starting grid, knows he has to attack to put Güven under pressure. The reigning champion past Dylan Derdaele (Belgium Racing) moved to third place in the first round of the chicane. But the champion of 2016 continues to counterattack during the following rounds, allowing Ayhancan Güven and Max van Splunteren to make a gap.
In the final phase, the young Dutchman closes in to the Turkish, and can still attack him. Güven, however, closes time and time again and wins for the fifth time this season. Maassen limits the damage with a third place. The top-5 is completed by Dylan Derdaele and Jesse Van Kuijk (GP Elite).
At the front of the race the first place may never have changed hands, in Class B – that of the gentlemen drivers – that was the case. Roger Grouwels (RaceArt), after good qualifications as sixth overall left, is the first leader. But Sandra van der Sloot (Squadra Aragosta) is in great shape! Halfway the Amazon conquers the leadership and keeps it to the end. Further on, title rival Menno van de Grijspaarde (GP Elite) is only fifth. Yet, it is not over yet. In the final phase, the team from Amsterdam moves past Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing), to take the fourth place. In addition, Sandra van der Sloot gets a five-second penalty for overtaking under yellow, which means she is only ranked third, behind Roger Grouwels and Ziad Geris (GP Elite). So she only won a few points on Menno van de Grijspaarde.
Race 2: Double for Güven
Although he managed to win at each of the meetings this year, Ayhancan Güven could never make the double. With the blue Porsche 911 GT3 Cup from Attempto Racing on pole, that is now possible. Once again he shoots like a rocket at the start and goes first through the first left. The competition would not see him again.
Behind him Max van Splunteren and Dylan Derdaele are fighting for a second place … and after contact they both end up in the gravel pit on the Kanaalbocht. Xavier Maassen, who only left fifth, can make use of the second to cross the finish line and thus again limit the damage. But with a 35-point lead, while there are still 44 to be earned at the season finale on Circuit Paul Ricard, Ayhancan Güven seems well on the way to the title!
“This was a fantastic weekend, the best one of my career,” Ayhancan said happily. “Scoring the maximum of 44 points gives a very special feeling, especially since there were a lot of Turkish fans present today. In Le Castellet I have to score at least 10 points to become champion … Obviously that will be my goal! ”
The Turkish supporters had a double reason to cheer, thanks to a nice third place for the young Berkay Besler (Toksport WRT), a 19-year-old ex-kart who is ready for his first season in motorsport. Behind him fell Jesse van Kuijk just next to the podium, with Jurgen van Hover (Speedlover) fifth.
After her penalty of Race 1, Sandra van der Sloot took revenge in a resounding way by winning the second race in Klasse B. She took advantage of the disappointing race of Menno van de Grijspaarde (only sixth in Class B) to take the lead of the championship. “I am very satisfied with my performance this weekend,” she said afterwards. “The Circuit Paul Ricard is new to me, it will be a new experience and a new challenge. I will be training on a test day before, but I think my rivals will do the same. I’m looking forward to it!”
While Roger Grouwels had to stop a few laps after the start with technical problems, Ziad Geris went to second place for the second time. On the podium he was joined by Nicolas Saelens, in his first full season in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux for the first time in the top-3. Pierre Piron (Kronos Porsche Center) and Edward Grouwels (RaceArt) conquered the following places of honor, for Menno van de Grijspaarde.
The meeting in Limburg was in any case a success, to the delight of Sven Pribylla. “It was fascinating and spectacular races”, said the satisfied director of Circuit Zolder. “We are very happy to receive the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux as part of such an international meeting as this one, because this championship certainly adds value to our meeting.”
The last appointment of the season is from 12 to 14 October at the Circuit Paul Ricard at Le Castellet. For the third time this year, the participants of the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Benelux are racing with their colleagues from the Porsche Carrera Cup France.