VEENENDAAL / SILVERSTONE (13 June 2016) – On the Grand Prix circuit at Silverstone, Racing Team Holland by Ekris Motorsport captured a fiercely contested third position in the European GT4 championship. With a starting field of no less than 51 GTs, Simon Knap and Rob Severs steered their orange Ekris M4 GT4 into third place during the spectacular three-hour race, leaving most of their international rivals behind them in the tough weather conditions. Teammates Ricardo van der Ende en Bernhard van Oranje were the fastest duo in the qualifying session, but following a collision, a puncture and a drive-through penalty they were unable to take advantage of their pole position on the wet circuit of Silverstone. However, despite all these setbacks the pair still managed to end in sixth place.
Not only were the drivers of Racing Team Holland faced with a challenging race. The technical team also had a race against the clock to get everything ready for the Silverstone 500, as the Ekris M4s had suffered extensive damage during the previous race weekend. The #9-Ekris M4 was damaged in such a bad way that a new car had to be built. “We had a stroke of good luck as Ekris Motorsport had already started building a new M4, and forty percent of the work on this new car was completed. After Pau the team worked virtually non-stop to get the car on the starting grid. They deserve great respect for this,” explained Van der Ende.
All the hard work was rewarded in the qualifying session. On the circuit that will host the British Formula 1 Grand Prix in four weeks, the Racing Team Holland drivers put in a good performance. In a starting field of more than fifty GT3s and GT4s, Van der Ende and Van Oranje realised a combined lap time of 4:28.651 minutes, which earned them pole position in the European GT4 division. Severs and Knap also performed well. Severs clocked up the second time, and added to the lap time achieved by his teammate Knap this earned the pair a respectable fourth starting position.
Bernhard van Oranje and Ricardo van der Ende
Bernhard van Oranje enjoyed a promising start to the race and managed to hold on to the leading position under difficult conditions, before the Ekris M4 GT4 came up against two fast GT3 cars that were locked in a fierce battle. Both cars collided with Van Oranje, forcing him to go a whole lap with a punctured tyre before he was able to drive into the pit lane for a replacement. Van Oranje and his teammate Van der Ende managed to make up lost time in the second part of the race, and eventually finished in sixth position in the European GT4 class. “We were definitely fast enough for a podium place. We achieved good times and our pit lane strategy was effective. Unfortunately a collision, a puncture and a drive-through penalty (for an irregular pit stop) combined against us,” concluded Van der Ende.
“We had to work hard in extremely tough conditions. The race started well for us and the balance of the car was good. However, I was hit by two faster GT3 cars that wanted to overtake me. There wasn’t enough room for all three cars. I suffered a punctured tyre and we lost a lot of time. That was a shame because we were doing well up to that moment,” responded Van Oranje. The following challenge is already looming for Van Oranje. Next weekend he will team up with Jan Lammers to compete in the Road to Le Mans, a support race for the legendary Le Mans 24 Hours. “I am really looking forward to that.”
Rob Severs and Simon Knap
Rob Severs and Simon Knap clearly felt very much at home in the wet conditions. The Racing Team Holland duo even managed to take the lead in the race, and at times their car was the fastest European GT4 on the track. In spite of a double drive-through penalty (for overtaking under a yellow flag), Severs and Knap earned a podium place for the second time this season. “Before the race we thought there may be some incidents on the track. In that case the best course is to stay out of trouble and just keep driving. That is the way to achieve the highest possible position,” claimed Severs. “Coming third despite a double drive-through is an excellent result. We also held the leading position in the race for half an hour. That is fantastic. The Porsches that finished first and second are really good cars and they have very experienced drivers who know how to drive fast in the rain. All in all we should be very pleased with ourselves,” stated Severs.
The following GT4 race is planned for 9 July, when the drivers of Racing Team Holland by Ekris Motorsport will compete in a two-hour race at Spa-Francorchamps.