The vagaries of the sky complicated life for Street-Art Racing in Zandvoort, the venue for the fifth round of the GT4 European Series. The results do not reflect the Belgian team’s performance by the North Sea, but the experience gained will be useful in the future and the Seyler-Bachmann pair remains at the top of the championship in the AM Cup.
In mid-July Zandvoort is a holiday destination. Well it is normally… but this weekend it was a far cry from the fine sandy beaches bathed in sunlight on the Dutch coast. It was miserable and above all very changeable weather that affected the Street-Art Racing team during the fifth and penultimate round of the GT4 European Series.
“Managing such changing conditions is always very complicated,” explains Albert Bloem, the Team Principal of the Belgian team. “That is because you have to be able to anticipate and at the same time have some success. Luck really was not on our side this time. For Jamie Vandenbalck and Julien Darras, a questionable penalty cost us at least a Top 10 place. But it is a part of racing and we have to learn from that to keep improving as a team.”
A penalty which hurts
Entered in the Silver Cup and aiming for podium positions in the overall standings in the Aston Martin Vantage GT4 #007, Frenchman Julien Darras and Belgian Jamie Vandenbalck experienced all the emotions this weekend. “I was severely hampered in my qualifying lap and only finished 12th,” said Julien. “In the first race we were a little off the pace and a minor mistake relegated us to 18thplace. It was definitely not our day!”
Having taken full advantage of the team’s strategy and an excellent lap in his qualifying session, Jamie finished in a magnificent third place on the starting grid for the second race. “I felt good in the car with settings that suited me better,” explains the Belgian. “I was also able to benefit from the advice I hade received from Aston Martin Racing as part of their Driver Academy. We could clearly aim for a good result if there had not been this problem with our pit stop.”
Penalised for an “Unsafe Release” (behaviour considered dangerous when leaving your location after a pit stop), the Street-Art Racing team was somewhat unhappy about the decision. “To start with, the team in the neighbouring pit was obstructing us in a completely unsporting manner so as to give themselves more space,” says Damien Hellebuyck, the Team Manager. “As we were unable to make our stop in line with the procedure stipulated in the rules there was some irritation, and when Julien left he inconvenienced another competitor. Hence our penalty, which in no way takes account of the true facts…”
The consequent “Drive Through” set the Vandenbalck-Darras pair back ultimately to 14th place (8th in the Silver Cup) while a finish just outside the Top 5 had been more than conceivable.
Seyler-Bachmann remain in the lead in the AM Cup
The weekend among the Dutch dunes was no easy time either for the young Luxembourg driver Clément Seyler and his Swiss team mate Pascal Bachmann, lining up in the Aston Martin Vantage #17. “The weather really affected us a great deal,” says Pascal. “We had constantly to adapt, in order to find our marks and the right settings.”
In the first race, the pair took third place in the AM Cup. On Sunday, they were the collateral victims of a collision at the start. “I do not know what a miracle it was, that I avoided the accident,” continues the Swiss.“After that, I was fighting for 2nd place and I was convinced that, with Clément, we could win our class. But suddenly, my left rear tyre exploded, probably due to debris left on the track after the first lap pile-up. I had to drive all the way round really slowly and all our hopes were gone…”
However, Clément Seyler confirmed his progress in the second half of the race and the points for 4thplace in the AM Cup are extremely valuable. “We had a lead of 35 lengths and it was reduced to 19 units,” says the 19-year-old Luxembourg driver. “I did not particularly like the track and the weather did not help us with our settings, but I finally found my bearings. I have learned a lot more by analysing my data and those of my team mates and I will continue to work hard before the championship final at the Nürburgring.”
It is indeed on the famous track in the Eifel Mountains, a short distance from the Belgian-German border, that the GT4 European Series will close its book for 2019 season. And Street-Art Racing, Clément Seyler and Pascal Bachmann would like to have their names engraved on the AM Cup.
Press release : Streer-Art Racing ; Photographs: Daniel & Davy Delien/Pro-Photos-Sport