- The Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux begins this weekend as a prologue to the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps
- A well-filled entry list featuring both regulars and newcomers
- The Porsche Paddock Lounge, a new hospitality structure
The setting will once again be magnificent. To launch what is now known as the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux, the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit will serve as the venue alongside the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). As usual, the 17 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars of the Benelux Championship will be joined by around twenty representatives of the French competition. So a splendid phalanx of some forty cars will enter the fray on the rolling Ardennes circuit for two 30-minute races on Friday at 16.30 and Saturday at 11.35.
Under a new name this season, the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux confirms the progress it has been making. At the heart of the circuit, the new “Porsche Paddock Lounge” will receive guests beneath the colours and with the standardsof the prestigious brand. Its success was immediate, and places were sold out very quickly!
On track, the fastest single-make series in the Benelux will offer a well-balanced field with a mix of established figures and young bucks prepared to rattle their cages. Runner-up behind Ayhancan Güven last year, the Dutchman Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing) hopes to take advantage of the young Turk’s absence (as he is focusing on a French and international Supercup programme this year) to recover the crown he had already won in 2017. Dylan Derdaele, who won the title a year earlier, did not live up to last year’s expectations, but pay attention: the spearhead of Belgium Racing is thirsty for revenge!
Competing against these two former champions, some young drivers aim to change the established order. Dutchman Max van Splunteren (Team GP Elite) proved last year that he has the speed to compete for victory. His team-mates, brothers Jesse and Daan van Kuijk, also want to confirm the progress they made in 2018, while Belgian Jurgen Van Hover (Speedlover) remains one of the certainties in the pack. But it is towards the newcomers that eyes will turn this weekend. Winner of the Junior Recruitment Programme, the very young Loek Hartog (Bas Koeten Racing) intends to confirm that the jury was correct in its choice! At just 16 years of age, the 2018 Ford Fiesta Sprint Cup Nederland champion is one of the talents to follow in the Netherlands and he intends to make a name for himself from the very beginning in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux. Also aged 16, Lucas Groeneveld (Team GP Elite) certainly has less experience, but that does not prevent him from having ambitions too.
Sandra van der Sloot, the benchmark among B drivers
After finishing the 2018 season like a rocket to win the category B title, Sandra van der Sloot is back, defending her crown. Now officially entered by the Snoexx Motorsport team, the female driver in the pack wants to be a benchmark. But her male colleagues are not singing from the same song-sheet. Absent this weekend, runner-up Menno van de Grijspaarde (Team GP Elite) will be there at the next meeting, in the prologue to the DTM in Zolder. Roger Grouwels (RaceArt), who finished fourth in the B championship last year, is aiming for the title this time out. Watch out also for Bas Barenburg (RaceArt) and Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing). Among the underdogs in the category are Yves Noël (Car Tuning Lease Motorsport), Wim Meulders (Speedlover) and Jeroen Kreeft (Squadra Aragosta by Snoexx).
A new feature of the 2019 season is the introduction of a “Guest” category either for drivers who will not be competing in the entire championship or to allow newcomers to try out the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux in a separate class. This time, Didier Van Dalen (Kronos Porsche Centre) and Ziad Geris (Team GP Elite) will compete for the top step of the podium in this category.
The first free practice sessions are scheduled for Thursday (11.00-11.40 and then 15.30-16.10) before the double qualifying session on Friday (12.15-13.00). A few hours later, at 16.30, we will have the first start of the season. Race 2 is scheduled for Saturday at 11.35, just before the grid for the penultimate round of the World Endurance Championship (FIA WEC). Let battle commence!
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Calendar for the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux
3-4 May: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – FIA WEC Spa
17-19 May: Circuit Zolder – DTM
7-9 June: Circuit Zandvoort – Pinksterraces
19-21 July: TT Circuit Assen – DTM
13-15 September: Nürburgring – DTM
28-29 September: Circuit Barcelona – Blancpain GT Series