MISANO ADRIATICO (2 April, 2017) – Ekris Motorsport is looking back upon an excellent start of the GT4 European Series Northern Cup. At the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, the team’s two Dutch drivers Ricardo van der Ende and Max Koebolt finished third in both races with the Ekris M4 GT4. The two podium finishes amiong the field of 33 cars were considerably more than the team had hoped for based on the practice results. However, a clever strategy and a strong performance by the entire team eventually led to this success. “A great start of the season, in which we weren’t the fastest team, but where we achieved the maximum,” team manager Stian Boers commented.
The season opener at the circuit of Misano on the Adriatic coast was the first competitive outing with the Ekris M4 GT4 that has been improved in some areas for this season. The organisation had also adapted the car’s ‘balance of performance’ for this season. That had its effect on the sheer speed, as it became apparent during the practice sessions. Ricardo van der Ende knows the GT4 field, the car and the team from his many years of experience, but Max Koebolt found himself in a new environment for his first race participation with Ekris Motorsport. He quickly adapted to the situation and it soon became clear that he is feeling comfortable within the team.
The first race of the weekend took place in the dark on Saturday evening. Following a long interruption during an earlier race, the GT4 event started even later than originally planned. The Ekris M4 GT4 with starting number 8 had qualified in 15th place, but drivers Ricardo van der Ende and Max Koebolt gradually worked their way up to the front of the field. They were also able to benefit from some mistakes by other competitors that on some occasions saw the Dutch team gain positions. Thus, Van der Ende and Koebolt eventually were classified third, securing their first podium finish of the season.
For the second race on Sunday, the team made some adjustments to the set-up of the car, also to adapt it to the higher temperatures in daytime. Max Koebolt took the start of the race and incurred some damage during the usual turmoil in the opening stages, but that didn’t have any effect on the handling of the car. Thus, he was able to continue his race without any problems and he managed to make up some positions. Then, it was up to Ricardo van der Ende to complete the final part of the race after the pit stop and the mandatory driver change. The stalwart did this in a splendid way. A safety car intervention in the closing stages of the race didn’t cause any problems. In a thrilling duel with a Porsche driver for the final podium slot, Van der Ende remained calm and thus drove third place home, the team’s
Ricardo van der Ende: “Fantastic to be able to race again after a long winter break! Starting the season with a pair of podium finishes is always good. That is more than what we initially had expected. Compared to last year, the field has become even more competitive, but that only adds to the fun. I am very happy with these results, this is a good basis to build on for the upcoming races.”
Max Koebolt: “This weekend, I had to deal with many new things, but I am feeling really well at Ekris Motorsport. The championship is really strong, making it fun to race here. Of course, finishing on the podium in both races is a great debut for me. I am already looking forward to the next rounds!”
The GT4 European Series Northern Cup continues at the circuit of Brands Hatch in Great Britain, 6 and 7 May.