In spite of extra weight still another podium finish for Max Koebolt and Simon Knap

FRANCORCHAMPS – For the third consecutive race weekend, Dutch drivers

Max Koebolt and Simon Knap scored a podium finish in the GT4 European

Series with their BMW M4 GT4 run by Dutch team, MDM Motorsport. The

second race of the weekend, held under the ‘SRO Speedweek’ moniker at the

Spa-Francorchamps circuit in the Belgian Ardennes, saw the two Dutch drivers

end up third. After their podium finishes in the two previous rounds at the

circuits of Brands Hatch and Misano, Koebolt and Knap now had a

considerably more difficult time. This was mainly the result of an adjustment of

the balance of performance that turned out to be much to the disadvantage of

the BMWs. In the first race, the Dutch pairing finished sixth, but finishing on

the podium in the final race was a good way to end the weekend. “Having had

many handing issues in the first race, we knew that tyre management would be

the key to success in the second race. Fortunately, that worked out really

well”, the two drivers said.

Prior to the event, it was expected that the fast circuit of Spa-Francorchamps with its

long straights would suit the BMWs, but a change of the balance of performance by

the series’ organisers led to an increase of the minimum weight of the BMW M4 GT4

by no less than 90 kilograms. Later, this was reduced to 60 kilograms, but it was

clear that battling for top results would be very difficult in this way. That became

apparent in qualifying for the first race, in which Simon Knap posted the ninth-fastest

time in the field of 48 cars. “Our goal was to end up in the top ten, so that worked out,

but there wasn’t much more in store,” he said afterwards. Max Koebolt claimed

eighth place on the grid for the second race. “That was also the maximum we could

achieve given the situation,” he said.

Knap took the start of the first race and made good progress during his stint so that

he headed into the pits for the driver change from third place. “I was able to make up

positions quickly, it all went very well,” Knap said. “We even had some hope of a

podium finish, but unfortunately, that turned out in a different way. On my last two

laps, I already noticed that handling of the car degraded and that became even

worse for Max.” Koebolt confirms: “Grip got less and less and battling with the

opposition was really difficult. Initially, I was still able to keep three drivers at bay, but

eventually, I was a sitting duck with a car that was sliding into all directions. Once

they had overtaken me, they were gone immediately, which made it clear how tough

it was for me. That was something all BMW drivers had to deal with.” Knap and

Koebolt were classified sixth after the first race. “It is tough when you really give

everything you have, but realistically, you have no chance,” Koebolt said.

Tyre management was the main task for Koebolt who drove the opening stint of the

second race. “I had a good start and then tried to be as consistent as possible

without wearing out the tyres too much. That worked out well, so that the tyres were

still in a good condition when I handed the car to Simon. He then finished the job in

an excellent way,” Koebolt reported. Knap returned the compliment: “Many thanks to

Max who saved the tyres to the max, so to say, allowing me to make good progress

in the closing stages. However, I am glad that the race wasn’t one lap longer,

because otherwise we probably wouldn’t have been on the podium. The opposition

closed up quickly from behind. All in all, we still managed to keep the damage

limited.”

“Nevertheless, something is wrong when you see that our lap times during the race

were around one and a half seconds slower than the rest. Hopefully, the organisers

will have another good look into that prior to the next races,” Koebolt said. The next

races will be held at the Hungaroring near the Hungarian capital of Budapest, 1 and 2

September.


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