Packed GT4 European Series field ready for Imola season opener

Packed GT4 European Series field ready for Imola season opener

The competition for Silver Cup honours is wide open this year, with several crews who showed well last season aiming to ascend to the top spot this campaign. Perhaps the favourite is the CMR team, which will return with a duo of Toyota GR Supras and last year’s Silver Cup runner-up Antoine Potty leading the line-up in the #66 alongside Nelson Panciatici. Last year’s third-place driver, Thijmen Nabuurs, switches from the V8 Racing Camaro to share Team Spirit Racing’s #5 Aston Martin Vantage with American Kenton Koch.

Spaniard Lluc Ibañez (fourth last year) is back, too, as part of the NM Racing team. He will share his #15 Mercedes-AMG with Enzo Joulié. Italian Luca Bosco, who impressed on his run to third place overall in Pro-Am last year, joins the Silver Cup ranks, alongside American Alexandre Papadopulos in a Selleslagh Racing Team Mercedes-AMG.

The champion team in 2020, AGS Events will have twin Aston Martins out in the Silver Cup, with Hugo Condé/Noah Andy confirmed alongside Ruben del Sarte and Thomas Verdier, while Saintéloc Racing will run one of its three Audi R8 LMS GT4s in the Silver Cup, with Erwan Bastard and Roee Meyuhas driving.

Briton Tom Canning and Indian Akhil Rabindra will lead Racing Spirit of Léman’s charge in its Vantage GT4, with Gus Bowers (fifth in last year’s Silver Cup) returning to share the team’s second car with Konstantin Lachenauer. V8 Racing’s popular Chevrolet Camaro will also be back, with the youngest member of the Rappange racing family, Dante, set to share with Kenny Herremans. BMW will be represented by Borusan Otomotiv, and its Silver entry of 2021 British GT4 champion Will Burns and Berkay Besler should be a potent one aboard its M4.

It’s near-impossible to predict a winner from the packed Pro-Am entry, but one thing is for certain and that is both Saintéloc and AKKODIS-ASP being somewhere near the front. Saintéloc’s reigning Pro-Am champions Fabien Michal and Gregory Guilvert return to defend their crown, while last year’s runners-up AKKODIS-ASP’s Jean-Luc Beaubelique and Jim Pla also return to try and steal the crown for themselves this year. And AKKODIS-ASP’s second car cannot be discounted either, with Eric Debard and the super-experienced Simon Gachet on the other side of the garage. Likewise, Saintéloc’s second Pro-Am entry could well make some waves, with Oliver Esteves sharing with multiple French GT and Porsche Carrera Cup champion Anthony Beltoise.

Ivan Jacoma (fourth in the points last year) returns as part of the Centri Porsche Ticino team and has the rapid Alex Fontana by his side. The all-Swiss squad will be one to watch. Alpine is a popular brand for the class, with five cars taking part in the Pro-Am field. Perhaps most notable will be the #36 Code Racing car of Loïc Villiger and Antoine Leclerc.

There will also be a fleet of Aston Martins, with crews such as Christian Gisy/Ralf Kelleners (Hella Pagid-Racing One) and Rodrigue Gillion/Nico Verdonck (ProSport Racing) all hungry for success. Add in the wildcard of British squad Greystone GT’s McLaren 570S for Tim Whale and former A1GP champion Adam Carroll, plus a one-off entry for Alpine squad Bodemer Auto with Jean-Charles Rédélé and Grégoire Demoustier and you have a truly tight field.

Last but certainly not least, the Am class enjoys a healthy entry, with no drop in quality when it comes to the teams and drivers. Leading the line will be defending champions Michael Blanchemain and Christophe Hamon in their Team Fullmotorsport Audi R8 LMS. They will be chased again by last season’s runners-up Massimiliano Tresoldi and Paulo Meloni in their W&D Motorsport BMW M4 GT4.

Wilfried Cazalbon (third last year) also returns as part on the AGS Events team, this time with Julien Lambert as his team-mate in the #89 Vantage GT4. Father and son Mauro and Benjamin Ricci (sixth in 2021) are back as part of a two-car effort from AKKODIS-ASP, with Christophe Bourret/Pascal Gibon in the team’s second Am Mercedes-AMG.

Team Spirit Racing has an Aston Martin for Henrik-Lyngbye Pedersen/Markus Lungstrass, while Mirage Racing will field an all-French Alpine effort for Frédéric de Brabant/Alban Lagrange. Johan Vannerum/Jean-Luc Behets share the Selleslagh Racing Team’s Am Mercedes-AMG, NM Racing has Aleksandr Vaintrub/Stanislav Safronov in its Mercedes-AMG and W&S Motorsport’s Porsche 718 Cayman will be shared by Andrey Solukvtsev/Mikhail Loboda.

The opening round of the GT4 European Series takes place at Imola from April 1-3, with two free practice sessions on Friday followed by qualifying on Saturday at 11:40CET, followed by race one at 17:25CET. Sunday’s second race is scheduled for 13:10CET. Both qualifying and the races will be streamed live in English, French and German language via the GT4 European Series website and GTWorld YouTube channel.