Another podium finish for Max Koebolt in GT4 European Series
LE CASTELLET (2 June 2019) – In warm conditions, the third event of the GT4 European Series was held at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet in the south of France. Dutch driver Max Koebolt, who managed to win a race with the North Sea Lubricants Mercedes-AMG GT4 run by German team Leipert Motorsport at Brands Hatch last month, continued his successful streak at the French circuit. Together with teammate Jan Kisiel, he finished third in the second race and thus scored another podium finish. “All in all, it was a weekend in which we had to work hard, but we did score the necessary points,” Koebolt said afterwards.
Koebolt and Kisiel started the weekend with test sessions on Thursday. “We were able to get a lot of mileage in and the speed was good, so we only had to make little changes to the set-up,” Koebolt said. Two free practice sessions followed on Friday. In the first session, the team ended up eighth in the field of 42 cars. In the second session, Kisiel and Koebolt were classified 15th, only eight tenth of a second down on the fastest team. “We had a slight lack of balance in the car, but that was mainly the result of the fact that we were driving with used tyres from the previous weekend,” Koebolt explained. “So we didn’t do too much about that.”
Koebolt did first qualifying on Saturday morning. “Generally, it went well, but I didn’t manage to get all the good sectors together for one fast lap,” he admitted. “I also had some bad luck with traffic. As a result, I only ended up 16thon the grid for the first race, although you have to keep in mind how close everything was.” Jan Kisiel drove second qualifying and secured second place on the grid for race two. “Jan did super in qualifying and thus clearly showed the speed that was in the car.”
It was Koebolt who did the start and the first half of the opening race. “Of course, the goal was to move up as far as possible while staying away from all the troubles and, if possible, bring the car into the pits in a top ten position,” he explained the strategy. That worked out really well: Koebolt brought the Mercedes into the pits in eighth place for Jan Kisiel to take over. Thanks to a perfectly executed pit stop, the Pole rejoined the race in sixth place and then went on to make up further positions, meaning that even a podium finish seemed within reach. A little bit later, however, race control imposed a somewhat questionable drive-through penalty for alleged contact with another driver during an overtaking move. That made the team drop back several positions. Again, Kisiel made up some places after that, the team eventually being classified seventh overall and fifth in the Silver Cup. “Too bad. Given the speed and the progress we made, we could have achieved more, but that penalty slightly ruined our race,” Koebolt commented.
In race two, Kisiel took the start. Together with three other drivers, he was able to slightly pull clear from the rest of the field. “Because of the balance of performance, we were slightly lacking top speed compared to the BMWs and the McLaren, so Jan came into the pits in fourth place,” Koebolt reported. The Dutchman then took over the car. “After the pit stop, I rejoined the race in third and I was able to hold on to that position, although I really had to give it all I had to defend my place. The McLaren in front of me was visibly faster, but on the final lap, I mounted a challenge. I was even slightly in front, but I eventually finished third, one and a half tenth down on the McLaren. All in all, it was a weekend in which we had to work hard, but we did score the necessary points. Perhaps, we could have ended slightly further up, especially without that penalty, but generally, we can be happy.”
The next round of the GT4 European Series will be held from 28-30 June at the circuit of Misano in Italy.