Victory puts Max Koebolt into GT4 European Series points’ lead
MISANO ADRIATICO (30 June 2019) – The Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli on the Italian Adriatic coast served as the venue for the fourth season round of the GT4 European Series. For Dutch driver Max Koebolt and his Polish teammate Jan Kisiel, the trip to Italy was a successful one: in the second race, the duo crossed the finish line in first place with its North Sea Lubricants Mercedes-AMG GT3, run by German team Leipert Motorsport. For Koebolt and Kisiel, this was the second victory of the season. One day earlier, they had finished third in the Silver Cup and fourth overall. With their good score in Italy, Koebolt and Kisiel move up into the lead of the drivers’ standings, 17 points ahead of the second-placed team. “We are very happy with this weekend and of course, this is a very good situation for our home race,” Koebolt says. On 13 and 14 July, the penultimate round of the season will be held at Circuit Zandvoort in The Netherlands.
In summerly conditions, the European GT4 field with a total of 33 cars was in action at the 4.226 kilometres long Misano World Circuit. As usual, test sessions were scheduled for the Thursday, but these didn’t go quite as planned for Max Koebolt and his team: “After a few laps already, a drive shaft snapped which left us stationary in the pits for repair for two hours. After that, we were only able to complete a couple of laps. By no means an ideal preparation and that meant that for us, the weekend only really started with the free practice sessions on Friday,” Koebolt said.
These weren’t trouble-free either as there was an unbalance in the car, but changes to the set-up led to the required result, giving the team more confidence for the two qualifying sessions to decide the starting grid positions for the respective races. “I did qualifying for the first race that went pretty well, even though I wasn’t able to complete one optimal lap, partly due to yellow flags and even a ‘full course yellow’. With the time I had achieved, I was classified seventh and I was more or less happy with that,”Koebolt said. Teammate Jan Kisiel qualified the car for the second race and claimed pole position, giving the yellow Mercedes-AMG GT4 the best possible grid position for the race on Sunday.
Max Koebolt took the start of the first race. “That was quite difficult, all the drivers in the top seven were closely together within one group. We had some issues with increasing temperatures, so I couldn’t get too close to the cars in front of me because otherwise, the engine wouldn’t be getting enough cooling. That prevented me from really mounting a challenge,” Koebolt explained. “I just made sure that I stayed out of trouble, didn’t make any mistakes and I tried to save the tyres as well as I could. During the pit stop, Jan took over and he was able to make some progress in the second half of the race. Like that, he eventually finished third in the Silver Cup and fourth overall.”
On Sunday, Jan Kisiel started from pole position. “We knew that we were lacking a bit of speed because of the ‘balance of performance’ and indeed, Jan lost the lead pretty soon, but that was according to plan,” Koebolt admitted. “He was still able to keep up quite nicely and when the car in front of him hit trouble, he was able to take back the lead.” During the driver change, Koebolt got into the car for the second half of the race. “It was much warmer than yesterday which made it particularly difficult with the front tyres,” he found out. “That made me lose the lead again, but the car in front of us got a puncture in the final stages, meaning that I was able to take P1 after all and then drive victory home. A fantastic feeling!”
With two weekends remaining, Koebolt and Kisiel now have a 17 points’ margin in the lead of the GT4 European Series drivers’ standings. “Of course, that is a very good situation for my home race at Zandvoort on 13 and 14 July,” Koebolt says. “Prior to the season, we already tested at Zandvoort with the car and I think we will be able to do well again there. In any case, I am really looking forward to it!”