The Circuito de Jerez Angél Nieto, as it is called in its entirety, was the venue for Formula 1 racing until 1997, and even today, one or two international races are held there on both four and two wheels. This was also the case last weekend with the GT Winter Series, which featured a lush field of starters. There were many surprises and a few preliminary championship decisions were made.
In the morning qualifying it was still cold. Well, cold by Andalusian standards, because 12 degrees seemed fresh compared to the 22 degrees under the blue Jerez sky in the afternoon. Unsurprisingly, Olimp Racing put their flagship GT3 on pole, but they had to fend off Michael Joos in the 991 GT3 R first, who put in a spirited performance and led the timesheet for a long time. Karol Basz followed suit with a 1:40.8 and snatched the pole. Much to the chagrin of Joos, Basz took the time during a lap in which yellow was flashed in one sector. However, this had no consequences for Basz, as he had demonstrably taken the throttle away at the point of the yellow flag. So the pole remained. The whole thing, by the way, was not on the Audi or Ferrari he had been used to before. Basz drove AMG this time and could show that he can also go his usual speed on this machine. Joos dominated Qualy 2 without any problems, while Marcin Jedlinski moved up to the front row next to him on the very same Olimp AMG GT3.
Talking about GT3: the Porsche Centre 5 Lakes from near Munich came with their own team to enter the beautiful matt black 991 GT3 R. Jörg Dreisow showed with P3 that he can do it. He was supported in the Endurance by Manuel Lauck.
Two other drivers stood out in particular. Markus Lungstrass in the racing one Aston Martin Vantage GT4 chiselled 1:48.997 into the asphalt, while Oscar Löfquist from Sweden, who was already inspiring in Estoril, drilled his Porsche 992 Cup from Kjellin Motorsports into the field of GT3 and LMP3 and was by far the fastest in the Cup R class. In the M2 CS Racing, the home advantage of JM de los Milagros from Team BMW España was unmistakable. Not only were his lines noticeably different from others, but his lap time was the fastest turned by an M2 this weekend.
Sprint race 1
At the start of the first sprint race Basz took the lead and gradually pulled away from Joos. Although the latter kept up well, but could only wait for Basz to make a mistake, he was never really within striking distance, but in turn pulled away from the rest of the GT3 field at least as quickly. For both of them it was a rather lonely race until the flag. Behind them soon followed “Oscar” (Löfquist) with his Cup Porsche, followed at a respectful distance by Ulrich Ziegler in the HP-991.
Markus Lungstrass in his racing one Aston Martin showed enormous speed. He even kept up with the field of Cup Porsches, but unfortunately had to be cleared by Stanislav Jedlinski at the hairpin and limped to the pits – the end for him and material for plenty of discussions with the hot-blooded Jedlinski, who produced other victims this weekend besides Lungstrass.
Andreas Greiling cut a fantastic figure. The German privateer, who lives in Marbella, not only drove his 718 GT4 CS to a double pole in his class, but also kept ahead of renowned big names such as Martin Toth’s DRAGO-ZvO-AMG GT4 with start number 2.
BMW España, by the way, had already announced in advance that they regarded Jerez as their home race – both drivers and team have a particularly wealth of experience on this track. And indeed, Nerea Martí was able to stay within sight of M2 ace Marchewicz (Schnitzelalm Racing), keeping many a nominally stronger car from the GT4 classes behind her! Schnitzelalm Racing once again had three BMWs at the start of all the races.
By the way, the laughing overall winner was not Basz, but Joos, as Basz overtook under yellow and thus received a time penalty.
Sprint race 2
In the second 25-minute sprint, everything went according to plan for Michael Joos. The start-finish victory was not to be taken away from him, Marcin Jedlinski followed in his footsteps, but with a growing distance. Piotr Wira on the GoodSpeed AMG GT3 visibly got going and finished an excellent third overall. The fact that the GTR class in Jerez featured no less than three Porsche 991 GT3 R cars made for a nice picture. One of them came from the Porsche Centre 5 Lakes, a company based near Munich that is known for its racing genes. Driver Jörg Dreisow not only got pro Manuel Lauck on board, but also got on better and better with the bolide himself, engaging in duels with Klaus Horn in the second Joos car and Uwe Lauer in the picture-perfect Die Biermacher. Racing Ferrari 488 GT3. More about the PZ 5 Lakes in the Endurance Report.
Unfortunately, Javier Ibran had to start from the back of the field in his LMP3 due to an incident in the first race, but he fought his way through the field and even finished in P5 overall. That was worth seeing!
One would almost be inclined to forget the reigning champions. Not because Robert Haub and Gabriela Jilkova drove inconspicuously – on the contrary, this weekend they won everything that can be won in the GT4 class, but were always “lonely, but faster” in their top position. Haub’s gravel-bed graze on the penultimate lap did nothing to change that. Although this cost a second or two, Haub’s buffer was large enough not to jeopardise the victory. With their DRAGO Racing ZvO AMG GT4, they are slowly but surely making their way back to the top of the standings and are now hoping for the finale in Barcelona on 12 and 13 March 2022. Moritz Gisy’s performance was no less impressive. He already impressed at the race in Estoril, but now in Jerez he was able to show not only his fighting strength in the fight with Josef Liska, but also his sheer speed, which brought him P4 in the strongly occupied GT4 class.
In general, there was a lot going on in the GT4. Newcomer David Henn, who still had to find his feet a little during the free practice sessions, attacked lively, especially in the second sprint, but always remained precise and won the fight in his pack by the narrowest of margins on the last lap. His team Burgmann Racing was also happy about this.
In the M2 CS Racing Cup, José de los Milagros not only blew away the in-class competition, but also several GT4s, which underlines his driving class as well as his wealth of experience in Jerez. The spectator could see with the naked eye that he chose different lines here and there, which obviously translated into top times for him. The class win was not to be taken away from him.
Already in the early GTWS season it could be observed that in Endurance often different winners are produced than during the sprint races. Consistency makes you fast, and so does teamwork. This was not to change in Jerez.
At the start of the 45-minute endurance race in the late afternoon in Andalusia, starting driver Manuel Lauck in the PZ 5 Lakes 991 GT3 R seemed to “forget” that it was an endurance race, so courageously did he overtake two competitors (Jedlinski/Basz and Joos/Horn) at millimetre intervals at the start and took the lead with surgical precision. Joos let him have his way and settled into P2 waiting, but never stopped building up pressure.
Ziegler and Assfalg were unbeatable in the HP Racing Cup Porsche 991 and took the win in the Cup class, but in the absence of the 992-equipped Oscar Löfquist. P2 in the class was the Cup Porsche from PZ5 Seen, in which, incidentally, the PZ boss himself, Franz Wörle, sat alongside GTWS rookie Christian Kindsmüller. The fact that he had not driven a race for years, according to his own statements, was not noticeable to him.
A safety car phase around the middle of the race made it a creative task for the teams, but also offered a number of opportunities. BMW España managed the feat of finishing sixth (!) overall in the Endurance with their M2 CS Racing, right in the middle of the Cup R field and ahead of all the GT4s! The cheers were as big as they were deserved.
A remarkable team performance was also achieved by the Dutch team Verkerk/Verkerk, who dominated their Cup S class with their RFF Racing Cayman GT4 and finished only a handful of seconds behind the superbly firing Aston Martin from racing one (Lungstrass/Pedersen).
It should also be noted that Karsten Krämer Racing had several Cayman GT4s at the start and their cars were involved in exciting battles in all the races, which always remained clean despite all the tension.
Final in Barcelona decides the championship
The conditions for the grand finale on 12 and 13 March in Barcelona could hardly be more exciting. After all, not only the championship will be decided at this round, but also the question of which driver pairing is the strongest on the Formula 1 circuit. While promoter Gedlich Racing has stated that the number of registrations is now approaching 40 cars, registrations are continuing to pour in. Once again an armada of GT3 cars is expected and once again Olimp Racing is considered one of the favourites, but will have to be careful not to deprive itself of points through driver-induced retirements.