ZANDVOORT (14 July 2019) – Max Koebolt had high expectations coming to the fifth and penultimate round of the GT4 European Series as the event at Circuit Zandvoort was the home race for the Dutch driver. He arrived in a good position as Koebolt and his Polish teammate Jan Kisiel were leading the championship standings prior to the Zandvoort round. For the drivers with the North Sea Lubricants Mercedes-AMG GT4, run by German team Leipert Motorsport, the goal was to score as many points as possible compared to their title rivals. That worked out well with a fifth-place finish in race one and fourth place in race two. “We are still leading the standings, but we had expected a little bit more, particularly on Sunday, at least a podium finish. At least we are still in first place, that is positive,” Koebolt said.
On Thursday, Koebolt and Kisiel completed their first laps of the Zandvoort circuit with the North Sea Lubricants Mercedes-AMG GT4 in the unofficial test sessions. “That went well, we had a good set-up,” the driver reported. On Friday, the official free practice sessions were a wet affair as weather conditions made it look like autumn rather than summer with frequent rain showers at Zandvoort. Koebolt: “There were quite a few incidents in first free practice and nobody was able to post significant lap times as a result. Second free practice was an entirely wet affair and things were going really well for us, the car handled perfectly.”
As usual, Max Koebolt drove in the first qualifying heat for ‘Pro’ drivers on Saturday morning. “It was typically Dutch weather: a damp track as the session started, but already dry enough to go out with slicks. The track became faster with every second. I was able to do consistently good lap times, but unfortunately, I was held up significantly on my final flying lap. As a result, I ended up only 13th. That was a pity, because we were really on the pace,” Koebolt said. In second qualifying, teammate Jan Kisiel drove the Mercedes-AMG GT4 to second place on the grid for the second race of the weekend.
Koebolt had a good start into the first race: “I was able to move up from 13thon the grid into the top ten straight away. Then I could keep up really well, but there was a ‘full course yellow’ after somebody had gone off track. After that, my front tyres didn’t work too well anymore, although I was still able to keep up with the others. When the pit stop window had opened, I brought the car in from P8. After the driver change, Jan made up some more and we were classified fifth. In terms of points, that was a very good result for us.”
The race on Sunday was a difficult affair for Koebolt and Kisiel. The latter started from second place and had an excellent getaway, but a second start was necessary following a multi-car crash on the main straight. The second start behind the safety-car went less well. “Due to the balance of performance, we are simply lacking power, so we already knew that it would be really difficult,” Koebolt said. “Jan was only able to follow, especially as there was yet another safety car intervention and a restart. Several other cars went past, seemingly without much effort. The difference in top speed is making it difficult for us to attack, something that affected me during my stint as well. We tried to keep the damage limited, but we did hope for a little bit more,” he admitted.
With one round remaining, at the Nürburgring from 30 August until 1 September, Koebolt and Kisiel remain in the lead of the championship standings, even though their margin has decreased. Koebolt remains optimistic: “There, we will try to finish it off, the title is our goal!”