No less than 27 cars gathered in Estoril to tackle the second event of the 2021/2022 GT Winter Series season and thus the first three race rounds for the new year. In addition to a colorful field, there was above all competition density and surprising newcomers to marvel at. But also „old acquaintances“ were met again on the track.
As expected, top times were possible in the morning qualifying on still cool asphalt. And so it was once again the Olimp Racing team that dominated the action at the top. They competed with two Ferrari 488 GT3, which are a real eye-catcher next to the third car of this type (Uwe Lauer, Die Biermacher Racing). So it was Karol Basz and Krystian Korzeniowski who set the pace. Both were able to set average 1:36 times and thus even relegate Javier Ibran Pardo, who is very familiar with Estoril, to second place in his Ligier LMP3, who was nevertheless visibly satisfied with the first row of the grid. „Winning is in the race“, was his succinct comment.
In the Cup-R class Ulrich Ziegler with his Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup stood out again, which was visibly fast and seemed to feel very comfortable at the limit. The two 992 GT3 Cup represented in the field (Sebastian Glaser and Oscar Löfquist) had a long distance duel, which Oscar decided in his favor and thus started from row 3, only slightly slower (1:40.2) than the GT3 Ferrari of Uwe Lauer in front of him.
The „GT4 terror“ Theo Oeverhaus, who already took all the best times and victories in the GT4 class at the December round in Portimao, was not tired in Estoril either and whipped his CV-AMG GT4 to the top of the class with 1:43.291, even leaving two Cup-991s behind him with this performance.
BMW España entered the event in a visibly good mood and excellently prepared. Although Marcel Marchewicz of Schnitzelalm Racing remained the benchmark with his BMW M2 CS Racing, the motivated Spaniards came much closer than last time.
At Sunday’s start to Sprint Race 1 in spring-like sunny conditions, Marcin Jedlinski was able to exploit the power advantage of his Olimp Ferrari over Javier Ibran Pardo at the start and stay in front. Not only since the legendary duels of Senna, Prost, Mansell & Co. has turn 1 in Estoril been an eye of a needle that is good for many a race jam or enemy contact. Today, however, everyone stayed „clean“ and lined up neatly. Oscar Löfquist with his Wileco-992 GT3 Cup team took advantage of the situation and, starting from row 3, snatched two cars from the nominally stronger GT3 class. He actually saved this advantage until the finish and finished on the overall podium in third place, and this at his very first GTWS appearance. Chapeau! He is followed in 4th place by Johannes Kapfinger, who provided the fastest car of this type with the Huber 991.2 GT3 Cup, followed by Simon Eibl in the Laptime Porsche. By the way, Kapfinger’s first race ever, that looks like talent!
Pardo dropped back in the meantime after a mistake, but was able to fight his way back to the top and ultimately take the overall win. He underlined his driving strength by setting the fastest lap of the race with a remarkable 1:37.811.
Things were hot in the GT4 class – except for Oeverhaus. „Is in front, stays in front“, so they short description of his effort. The reigning champions (Haub/Jilkova on DRAGO Racing ZvO AMG GT4) can’t quite match the pace, but shine with good consistency and razor-sharp precision without unnecessary scuffles. It remains to be seen which of the front GT4s will be the most consistent in the long run. The championship could stand or fall with it.
In the BMW M2 CS Racing Winter Cup José de los Milagros chased off like there was no tomorrow. After impressive lap times, which were hardly inferior to those of Crack Marchewicz, they ran after the 25 min. distance in unison, not without having previously fought hard, but fair battles. By the way, BMW España will be at the start with two M2 CS Racing cars from the Jerez round on.
In the Cayman GT4 class, once again a Swedish driver from Team WILECO Driver was able to attract attention. Kennet Ahnelov outclassed the competition in his first race and finished immediately behind the reigning champions. Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)
The duel (better: triell) of the race was Löfquist vs. Glaser, both 992 GT3. They not only each took on the other, but also Uwe Lauer in the Die Biermacher Racing Ferrari, who could barely fend off either of them on the straights. Löfquist won first over Glaser, then over Lauer. The duel against Glaser in particular is worthy of all honors, as the latter brings the concentrated experience of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany to the asphalt of Estoril and is thus an extremely competent racing opponent. And refreshingly upbeat at the same time.
Pardo wasn’t quite able to get going. His LMP3 is not one of the fastest on the straights, which is why one or the other Cup Porsche passed and was subsequently difficult for him to catch up again. He was stuck in the front midfield and could not really show his strengths today, although he was able to break away from the other car classes at the end.
We have become accustomed to Oeverhaus dominating the GT4 class. That Haub is not following on his heels, not to it. He fell behind at the start and only finished P3 in GT4, ahead of both AMG GT4s from CV Peformance. Van Ommen and Zakowski of Team DRAGO Racing ZvO will have to come up with something for the next round in Jerez.
A safety car phase shortly after the middle of the race due to a technical defect with loss of fluid on the Bluemle Cayman GT4 should generate additional tension, because suddenly everyone was very close together again. Just three minutes before the end of the 25-minute distance, the race was restarted and the remaining two laps promised to be explosive. While Lauer in the Ferrari did not make any moves, Glaser still had a score to settle with Löfquist, who, however, prevailed and became third overall. By the way, Glaser got pressure at the last minute from the Goodspeed AMG GT3, manned by Piotr Wira. He pushed hard at the Glaser rear but had to settle for P5.
The overall winners in Sprint Race 2 were the two Olimp Ferraris, which blew ahead from the start with fabulous times and produced a photo finish. Karol Basz is the smiling winner.
Shortly before dusk the 45 minutes long Endurance started with a pit stop and, if two drivers share one car, a driver change. Again both Olimp-Ferraris completed row 1 and for nobody there was ever any doubt that the two would take a start-finish double victory. Far from it, as the black Olimp Ferrari dropped back and would only finish fourth behind the LMP3 of Javier Ibran Pardo. The duo of Basz/Jedlinski takes another win and manages the feat of banging out a fabulous 1:36.387 in the Endurance race. On P2 the „Die Biermacher Racing“ Ferrari of Uwe Lauer runs in, who had got Francesco Lopez for reinforcement in the Endurance and who was missing in terms of fastest lap time only one second on the ace Basz, which clarified the performance of the Biermacher Ferrari.
Throughout the weekend, Johannes Kapfinger wowed us. In his first races, the 18-year-old really led the established drivers on his 991.2 Cup and won the Cup-R class together with his twin brother. Wow!
Oeverhaus, who drove the long distance alone, cleaned up again, with defending champions Haub/Jilkova securing P2. However, things got exciting around the pit stop, as the champions‘ ZvO-AMG GT4 was let back into the race with more pinpoint accuracy, thereby overtaking Oeverhaus in the pits. Haub was definitely able to keep Oeverhaus busy after the restart and showed great fighting spirit until Oeverhaus finally prevailed and was able to overtake.
The fact that Kkraemer Racing is used to endurance racing is evident from the result in Endurance, as they drove their 981 GT4 CS into the midfield of the overall standings and won the Cup S class. The driver Veremenko and the team boss Karsten Kraemer, who took the wheel himself, will be happy. Everything just fit and shows that consistency and perfect pit work on the long distance bring a lot.
Mid-season and Jerez ahead
The GT Winter Series is now right at the midpoint of the season and is looking forward to two more fabulous stops. Next event will be held in Jerez, Andalusia, on February 12-13, 2022. The track, known from MotoGP and in the past Formula 1, is in top condition and inspires with its fluid track layout. It is not for nothing that it is also called „the Spa-Francorchamps of Spain.