A strong season start for Max Koebolt in GT4 European Series
MONZA (14 April 2019) – The new GT4 European Series season got underway at the Autodromo Nazionale Monza this weekend. For Dutch driver Max Koebolt, the start of the season also marked the beginning of a new chapter as he has made the transition to German team Leipert Motorsport for this year. For this team, he will be racing a Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the colours of North Sea Lubricants, sharing driving duties with young Polish racer Jan Kisiel. Koebolt and Kisiel had a prosperous start of the season: on both races at the famous circuit in Monza’s Royal Park, they were classified fifth in the Silver Cup category. In the first race, they also ended up as the best-placed Mercedes-AMG team in fifth place overall. In the second race, the duo finished in eighth place of the overall classification. “It is fantastic to be back in a race car after the winter break. We got our season off to a good start. Co-operation with the team and the people from Mercedes-AMG is going really well. We certainly can build on this,” Koebolt said. Next to North Sea Lubricants, he also has K&N and Petromark as his partners again.
Activities got underway with a pair of test sessions on Thursday that were both held in the rain. “That was quite good as I had never driven the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the rain prior to this weekend,” Koebolt commented. “It went very well: we had quickly found the right set-up and we succeeded in gradually improving. We ranked among the fastest drivers throughout the day. On Friday, free practice wasn’t too bad either. Qualifying, on the other hand, went worse than expected. It took long for the tyres to reach the right temperature. My first flying lap was okay and on my second attempt I had the impression of being really fast, but the figures on the display showed that I was actually slower than on the previous lap. Therefore, I decided to abort the lap in order to save the tyres, but back in the pits, it turned out that the display was wrong and that I had been half a second faster. That was a lesson for the future: sometimes, it is better to rely on your own feeling than on the display! Now, we ended up 13thon the grid.”
In the first race, Koebolt got slightly caught up in the turmoil right after the start, which wasn’t really surprising with 35 cars in the field, combined with the narrow first chicane at Monza. “Probably, I was a little bit too cautious, I wanted to move over to the outside straight away, but I got stuck,” he reported. “There was quite some aggressive driving out there, but we made a quick pit stop that enabled us to make up some positions. Eventually, my teammate Jan managed to bring the car home in a very strong fifth place.” In qualifying for race two, Jan Kisiel had posted the fastest lap time, but he had incurred a ten-place grid penalty due to an earlier incident, so that he had to start from eleventh place. “The race started behind the safety car because of the rain, there really was a lot of water out there,” Koebolt said. “Jan was able to move up quite nicely, even though handling of the car was totally different from what we had during the test in the rain on Thursday. I noticed that immediately myself as well upon leaving the pit lane after the driver change. I had a lot of understeer, the car reacted very unpredictably. That really was a pity, because we were both super quick in the rain on Thursday and we really expected that this race would be ours. Therefore, it was a bit disappointing that we ended up fifth, but we did score points and are now third in the championship. Our goal is to win the title, there is no doubt about that.”
The next round of the GT4 European Series will be held on 4 and 5 May at the circuit of Brands Hatch in the UK.