- Max van Splunteren leader going into the final in Barcelona
- Loek Hartog takes second place at the expense of Dylan Derdaele
- Roger Grouwels takes the lead in Class B
The Nürburgring was the setting for the penultimate Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux event this weekend. On the 3.6 km “sprint” version of the Grand Prix circuit, Max van Splunteren and Loek Hartog each won a race, so the two of them will be battling for the title in Barcelona in two weeks’ time.
Race 1: van Splunteren start to finish
For its third appearance with the prestigious DTM, the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux was run in summer conditions for the first of the two races. Max van Splunteren (Team GP Elite), who had taken pole position, held the lead at the start of the 30-minute race. The leader of the championship initially resisted the pressure from his opponents before escaping and winning, after clocking the fastest lap in the race, with a 4 second lead.
The 23-year-old Dutchman was indeed helped by his opponents joining in a merciless struggle. Kay van Berlo and Loek Hartog, the Bas Koeten Racing teammates, gave the spectators a magnificent show. But despite several attempts to overtake by Hartog (16), it was Kay van Berlo (18) who won this “junior” duel.
Second in the championship before the German meeting, Dylan Derdaele was first in the leading group. But by missing two braking points on the same lap, the Belgium Racing representative fell back to 6thplace, behind Xavier Maassen (DVB Racing) and Jesse Van Kuijk (Team GP Elite). Although Maassen climbed back up to the van Berlo-Hartog pair at the end of the race, positions did not change again.
In Class B too, the contests were spectacular. From the first lap, Nicolas Saelens (Belgium Racing) managed to make up for an unsatisfactory qualifying session. Better still, he was able to distance himself from his title rival, Roger Grouwels (RaceArt). But the Dutchman came back to the Belgian at the end of the race and an attempt to overtake him ended in contact between the two men. Although the two 911 GT3 Cup cars left the track, they were able to continue on their way. Saelens was the first to start, was he going to win? Well, no, no, no! Because by locking his wheels as he approached the very last corner, Nicolas left a small but sufficiently large gap for Roger Grouwels, who snatched victory in the class at the last minute.
Race 2: Hartog holds off van Splunteren
As it did the day before, the sun shone on the Eifel Mountains on Sunday for the second race of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux. At the start, pole-sitter Loek Hartog barely held off Max van Splunteren and Xavier Maassen. At the age of 16, Loek has once again shown that he is not short of confidence! For 30 minutes, the winner of the Junior Recruitment Programme of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux resisted pressure from championship leader Max van Splunteren. At the end of the 20 laps, he was barely one second ahead of van Splunteren when he took the chequered flag. Despite a slight error on his last trip through the chicane, the latter barely maintained a lead over Xavier Maassen.
Behind fourth-placed Kay van Berlo, Dylan Derdaele completed the Top 5. However, this result does not allow the Belgian to retain a mathematical chance to don the crown. It is therefore between the Dutchmen Max van Splunteren and Loek Hartog that the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux will be decided in two weeks time in Barcelona.
Winner in the Guest class, Didier Van Dalen (Kronos Porsche Centre) finished in 6thplace ahead of Lucas Groeneveld (Team GP Elite), who started from 5thposition, but spun off on the first lap. He had to start from last place before making a spectacular climb back to 7thplace.
As the day before, victory in Class B went to Roger Grouwels, giving the Dutchman a perfect weekend. Despite a misfortune at the end of the race, Nicolas Saelens scored the points for third place. While Grouwels has regained the lead in the championship, the gap between the two protagonists is very small as they head to the last round of the season.
In two weeks’ time, the competitors in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux will meet at the Barcelona-Catalunya Circuit for the grand final. On this occasion, the fastest one-make Cup in the Benelux will be contested as part of the Blancpain GT Series.
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