- Derdaele profits from events in Race 1
- Hartog takes a second thrilling round and takes the lead in the championship
- Grouwels most consistent in class B
The Spa-Francorchamps circuit was true to form for the launch of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux! More than ever, the Ardennes toboggan run becomes the final arbiter when the frequently variable weather conditions in the region are involved. And that was how it was again at the opening of the 2019 season, alongside the FIA WEC World Endurance Championship. On this occasion, the Benelux drivers were joined by 19 competitors from the Porsche Carrera Cup France, and it resulted in some great scraps among the pack.
Race 1: Derdaele escapes the chaos
It rained a little on Friday afternoon as the 36 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars took to the starting grid for the first race. The fastest Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux competitor in qualifying practice, Max van Splunteren, started from the 3rdrow. On a slippery track, however, the Dutchman was hit in the rear by one of his Porsche Carrera Cup France counterparts during their first trip through the “Bruxelles” bend. The Team GP Elite driver was forced into a spin and then hit by Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing), Didier Van Dalen (Kronos Porsche Centre) and Daan van Kuijk (Team GP Elite). All were forced to retire while Jurgen van Hover (Speedlover) lost a lap during his pit stop for repairs.
From there, the way was clear for Dylan Derdaele. The standard-bearer for Belgium Racing knew that he had a unique chance to score a bullseye in the championship right from the start and to enshrine his victory in the Benelux rankings. The great surprise came from the young Dutchman Loek Hartog (Bas Koeten Racing), who finished second in his first race in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup event at just 16 years of age. The winner of the Junior Recruitment Programme was ahead of his compatriot Jesse Van Kuijk (Team GP Elite) and an excellent Roger Grouwels (RaceArt), very comfortable in these conditions and a fine winner in class B. On the Benelux podium, the Dutch driver was joined by defending champion Sandra van der Sloot (Snoexx Motorsport) and Bas Barenburg (RaceArt).
Race 2: Hartog on the green carpet
In view of the tricky track conditions, Race 2 was started under the safety-car on Saturday, with drivers determined to take their revenge for the events of the previous day. Sixth on the starting grid, Max van Splunteren (Team GP Elite) was one of them and succeeded in making an excellent start. But just when he thought he had done all the hard work, leading the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux pack to the last lap, the Dutchman was forced into a spin at “La Source” by Dylan Derdaele (Belgium Racing), who was first past the chequered flag.
However, the race director decided to give the Belgian a 30-second penalty for his manoeuvre. Loek Hartog (Bas Koeten Racing) took the opportunity presented by that to win, and to take the lead in the championship, ahead of Max van Splunteren and Jurgen van Hover (Speedlover). Regular Jesse Van Kuijk (Team GP Elite) and Dylan Derdaele finally completed the Top 5.
Eighth in the Benelux overall rankings behind Lucas Groeneveld (Team GP Elite) and Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing), Ziad Geris won the Guest class, reserved for competitors who do not compete for the entire season. The Dutchman was ahead of Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing) and Roger Grouwels, the first two drivers in class B.
“It was a dream start to the season,” said Roger Grouwels, leader in the class B championship. “After losing the title in 2018, I had every intention of making a huge impact in the first race this year. And I managed to do exactly that, with a first and a second place. But there is still a long way to go….”
After this successful first round, held against the background of the FIA WEC World Endurance Championship, it will be in another prestigious setting that the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux will host its second meeting of the season. On 17, 18 and 19 May, the paddock will be setting up its stalls in Zolder, at the same time as the DTM championship. It will be an opportunity for the teams racing at Spa to reverse the trend.
Calendar for the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux
3 April: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps – Official Test Day
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