Text: Rick Kiewiet
Images: Rick Kiewiet, SRO Media, KCMG, JP Motorsport, Optimum Motorsport, Garage 59
This weekend, the Endurance Cup of the GT World Challenge Europe has its second race of the season at the Green Hell. No less than 48 cars will be on the grid for the last Endurance-cup race before the Total 24hrs of Spa in October. There are numerous changes to the entry list compared to the season opener at Imola. Read the most eye-catching below.
A total of three cars have dropped from the list. The McLaren 720S of the Australian 59Racing squad will be absent. In a statement on Instagram they unveiled that the Covid-19 lockdown measures in Melbourne prevented a large share of the team to travel to Germany.
As the #23 Imperiale Racing Lamborghini participation in Imola was a one-off, they're absent at the Nürburgring as well. The #67 Dinamic Pro-Am Porsche is also absent, but for unknown reasons.
A couple of heavyweights join the ranks in Pro. First, ROWE racing enters a second 911 in the race for Jeroen Bleekemolen, Timo Bernhard and Simona de Silvestro. Bleekemolen and Bernhard are already experienced Porsche drivers. De Silvestro, a former IndyCar and Formula E contestant is new to the championship. She is the first female Porsche works driver.
Another Porsche 911 is entered by the KCMG team, also in the Pro category. The team, that contests in the NLS (Nürburgring Langstrecke Series), is sending Alex Imperatori, Josh Burdon and Edoardo Liberati to drive their #19 car.
Last addition to the Pro category comes from JP Motorsport, bringing a Mercedes AMG to the table. The team aims to gain experience ahead of the Total 24 hours of Spa in October. Their GT Open drivers Patryk Krupinski and former F1 driver Christian Klien are joined at the Grüne Hölle by former WEC driver for Aston Martin Mathias Lauda.
Last addition to the field is in the Pro-Am category, were Herberth Motorsport, coming from the ADAC GT Masters, enters two 911's.
Driver line-up changes
Multiple clashes with other series also enforce a couple of changes to driver line-ups.
Louis Deletraz in the #40 GPX Porsche has obligations in the FIA F2 Championship. He is replaced by Dennis Olsen. The young Norwegian, still only 24 years old, has a lot of experience racing Porsches in IMSA, WEC, ELMS and GT3 series. He's reigning champion in the Intercontinental GT Challenge, won the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany in 2017 and was vice-champion that same year in the Porsche Supercup. He drove one of the factory Porsches at the 2019 24 hours of Le Mans.
Rolf Ineichen, who was absent in Imola, returns in the #31 WRT Audi. This costs Mathieu Vaxivière his place in the winning crew of the season opener.
Alvaro Parente in the #9 K-Pax Bentley is driving in IMSA this weekend and is replaced by former Nissan and Bentley Team M-Sport driver Alex Buncombe.
Last notable driver change is that of Brit Nick Yelloly in the #10 Boutsen Ginion BMW M6. The Englishman, with worldwide experience racing the M6, hands over the wheel back to Jens Klingmann. The German returns after breaking both his wrists in a motorcycle accident earlier this year.
In Pro, there is one completely British outfit: the #69 Optimum Motorsport McLaren 720 S with drivers Ollie Wilkinson, Rob Bell en Joe Osborne. In Imola they got a good result with a p8 at the finish after a somewhat disappointing 22nd place on the starting grid. Focusing on a better grid position, the team now aims at a top-5 finish result.
Team Parker Racing joins the Silver Cup again with their #11 Bentley and drivers Euan McKay, Frank Bird and Nicolai Kjaergaard. They aim for a podium finish in the Silver Cup after a troublesome race in Imola.
Other British entries in the Silver cup are the #159 Aston Martin of Garage 59 (Watson, Pull & Hasse Clot) and the #78 Lamborghini of Barwell Motorsport (Kujala, Macdowall and Schandorff). In the #159 Aston James Pull makes is added to the car after it run with only two drivers in Imola. The young British-Malaysian took a class-win at his debut last year in the 24 hours of Spa. Both Garage 59 and Barwell also enter a second car in the Pro-Am category.
Ram Racing enters a car in Pro-Am for drivers Remon Vos, Martin Konrad and Tom Onslow-Cole.
Other Brits in the Pro category are Seb Morris in the #107 CMR Bentley and James Calado in the #51 AF Corse Ferrari. Stuart Hall is part of the #33 WRT Audi in the Silver Cup.
Phil Keen in the #19 Orange FFF Lambo and Chris Froggat in the #93 SKY-Tempesta Ferrari compete in the Pro-Am category.