The Red Bull Ring, near Spielberg in southern Austria, was the venue for Round 2 of the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup. The picturesque Styrian hillsides made a verdant contrast to the busy city streets of Monaco, and a very different kind of challenge.
The circuit had hosted rounds already this year of the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux and Deutschland, but not all of the Supercup entrants have experienced a race of the Red Bull Ring in the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup car this year. So the weekend had to show how the practical advantage would play out.
The Practice Session late on Friday afternoon began with the sun finding its way through heavy, overcast skies. Storms looked likely – the question was: would they arrive during the 45-minute session?
Some needed more practice than others.
It would take some time for quick times to be set, with many teams electing to keep their powder dry in the early stages of the session. Winners here from two weeks ago, #28 Leon Köhler (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber) and #29 Laurin Heinrich (DEU/Nebulus Racing by Huber) were in the pits, along with the cars of #24 Max van Splunteren (NLD/Team GP Elite), #25 Larry ten Voorde (NLD/Team GP Elite) and #26 Jesse van Kuijk (NLD/Team GP Elite).
I’m very excited to be racing on my home track!
The first of the quick times came from 2020 winner #3 Dylan Pereira (LUX/BWT Lechner Racing), in 1m 31.893s. Next up was #4 Tio Ellinas (CYP/Lechner Racing Middle East) on 1m 32.195s, followed by #6 Christopher Zöchling (DEU/FACH AUTO TECH) and #9 Lucas Groeneveld (NLD/GP Elite).
When Larry ten Voorde finally emerged from the pits, Pereira was still quickest (now down to 1m 31.683s), #2 Ayhancan Güven (TUR/BWT Lechner Racing) was second (1m 31.900s), Ellinas third (1m 31.964s) and #19 Dorian Boccolacci (FRA/Martinet by Alméras) fourth (1m 32.003).
Exceeding track limits – typical for Spielberg.
Fifteen minutes into the session, Pereira called into the pits, just as ten Voorde emerged to set some quick times – 1m 31.860s, good enough for second. Unfortunately for him, the Dutchman came under the scrutiny of the race director, who disqualified his next four lap times for breaching track limits. Although the session had no meaning as far as qualifying was concerned, it deprived Ten Voorde of what would otherwise have been the fastest lap of the session at 1m 31.306s.
Officially, therefore, with half the session gone – and Groeneveld also having had his fastest time disallowed – the top eight consisted of Güven, Pereira and Ellinas (both in the pits), ten Voorde, Boccolacci, #1 Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer (FRA/BWT Lechner Racing) and #20 Jaxon Evans (NZL/Martinet by Alméras) – both making improvements. Ninth was Jesse van Kuijk ahead of younger brother Daan, before the latter blotted his copybook with a spin over kerbs and grass.
Young Turk Güven was now the man to watch, the pink #2 Porsche putting a series of three quick laps – the quickest of which (1m 31.387s) would take him to the top of the times. With less than 20 minutes of the session remaining, the majority of the top ten were making their way down into the pit lane, once again leaving Ten Voorde out on his own, this time to set a time without going over track limits: 1m 31.398s – good enough for second – leaving Pereira third with his time from earlier in the session, and the top five being completed by van Splunteren and Ellinas.
Practice, spiced with red flag and rain.
With fifteen minutes of the session to go, Race Director Peter Roberts interrupted thesession with a red flag. Due to the numerous violations of the track limits he had to givethe drivers some time to reflect their driving style. Just before the restart the firstraindrops fellShortly before resumptions, the first raindrops fell and quickly developedinto a thunderstorm. The green flag was shown again with less than ten minutesremaining, but with the track conditions as treacherous as they were, it was pointlesslooking for any more quick laps. It did at least provide the opportunity for Heinrich andKöhler to test drive the rain tyres, but having spent so much of the dry part of thesession in the pits, their places at the bottom of the timing sheet was assured.
Qualifying – dry and sunny.
Comparing the times from the Practice Session with those from the earlier Porsche Carrera Cup races this year, it was clear that a lap under 1m 31s would be necessary to get at the sharp end of the grid. Saturday lunchtime’s half-hour session was warm and dry – although there were some clouds, they were not the threatening kind we had on Friday. First into the 1m 31s bracket was Larry ten Voorde with a 1m 31.368s after just five minutes of the session. Less than a minute later, the standout Rookie from Monaco, Dorian Boccolacci, took provisional pole with a 1m 30.971s.
Track limits had been rigorously enforced during the practice session, meaning that drivers were more than aware that transgressions would be severely penalized in qualifying. Quick laps would have to be clean and legal: between the white lines; on, but not beyond the kerbs. Between them, the BWT Lechner Racing cars of Pereira and Güven had five lap times nullified within the first five minutes!
Seven minutes into the session, the top ten drivers were all under 1m 32s with Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland winners Köhler and Heinrich moving into third and fourth (respectively) for Nebulus Racing by Huber. Larry ten Voorde also posted notice of his intentions, moving to second-fastest with a 1m 31.138s lap (not disallowed), as Boccolacci, Güven, van Splunteren, Ellinas, Evans and Zöchling headed for the pits.
Midway through the qualifying, the red flag was shown – Michael Crees was off at T4 in the sole Parker Revs entry. (Teammate Harry King away racing in the Porsche Carrera Cup GB at Brands Hatch). The clock was stopped as the circuit was cleared and the session got under way again with 16 minutes showing. Many of the front-runners were already in the pits, changing tyres, but with ten minutes left on the clock, Laurin Heinrich set a 1m 31.121s lap, good enough for the front row of the grid, but stewards quickly decided that he had gone over track limits and disallowed the time. Next to improve was team-mate Leon Köhler, taking second slot with 1m 31.164s.
I wasn’t at the front during testing here, in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland race or in free practice yesterday. My first lap today was the fastest and was enough for the third grid spot. I hope things go as well for me in the race on Sunday.
With six minutes to go, Ten Voorde went quicker again: 1m 30.894, to take pole position, provisionally, and demoting the Nebulus twins to third and fourth. Just failing to take a front row position, despite a good lap, was Ayhancan Güven, in 1m 31.007s. With two minutes on the clock, the Martinet cars of Boccolacci and Evans headed for the pits, their qualifying done, and Dylan Pereira, who had been relatively quiet until this point, posted a 1m 31.215s, which would have put him fifth, but again, the time was disallowed.
The track changed significantly compared to yesterday, probably because of Formula 1 tyre wear. As a result, my car’s balance wasn’t ideal.
Güven was still pushing hard, and with just over a minute to the chequered flag, posted a 1m 30.968s, finally securing a front row start – albeit more than half a second slower than his pole lap in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland race here two weeks ago. That left Boccolacci third, with his time set early in the session, followed by Köhler and Evans, who had slotted in a time of 1m 31.199s with five minutes of the session remaining. Sixth was van Splunteren, ahead of #11 Florian Latorre (FRA/CLRT) and Pereira. The top fifteen cars all did times within a second of each other: promising a close race – although overtaking would be tricky in the race itself.
The first race lap had it all.
Sunday’s race was held in warm conditions under sunny skies – rain threatened, but thankfully failed to materialise during the 18 lap race around the Red Bull Ring’s technical corners and sweeping fast curves. As the red lights went out, poleman Larry ten Voorde made a perfect start and headed off unchallenged to turn 1, while Leon Köhler managed to tow through behind Ayhancan Güven (who had not made the best of starts) to get ahead of Boccolacci and snatch third place as they reached turn 3.
The left side of the grid had generally made better starts (being on the racing line) and Laurin Heinrich from row 5 was up into seventh place as the field reached turn 3. On his inside was Florian Latorre, trying to make up for a poor start from the fourth row, and the two of them clashed side-to-side several times as they exited the corner. The pair lost places to van Splunteren and Evans as they sorted themselves out, the Dutchman having beaten the New Zealander off the startline.
In the next group, Dylan Pereira and #10 Daan van Kuijk (NLD/GP Elite) also arrived at the same corner side-by-side, both going too fast to make the turn: both slid off into the gravel and lost many places as they regained momentum.
Experts at the wheel.
So the order as they completed lap 1 was ten Voorde, leading by 0.8s, Güven, Köhler, Boccolacci, van Splunteren and Evans. Of this group, the closest battle was between van Splunteren and Evans, with the latter seemingly the quicker of the two, but unable to find a way past. This enabled Christopher Zöchling, who had steered clear of trouble on the opening lap to grab seventh place from 12th on the grid, to close up as well, making it a three-way fight for fifth.
Jaxon nudged me slightly a few times under braking, but I always managed to keep him behind me on the next straight.
It was a clean, well-fought and entertaining display of committed racing from all three – especially from Jaxon Evans, whose attempts to make an overtaking move were constantly being compromised by the need to defend his position from Zöchling.
Caution: Overtaking is dangerous!
Further back, Jean-Baptiste Simmenauer was also fighting hard to relieve Jesse van Kuijk of eighth place but on lap 11 his efforts back-fired on him as he failed to defend his position and found both Tio Ellinas and Laurin Heinrich slipping up on his inside, demoting him to 11th.
Up at the front, half-distance came and went without incident for Larry ten Voorde, as he extended his lead to 1.3s on lap 9 and looked pretty invincible. Ayhancan Güven in second place was similarly comfortable, over a second clear of third-placed Leon Köhler, who had set the fastest lap of the race on lap 5.
Ten Voorde unstoppable, Pereira’s nightmare.
On lap 12, Daan van Kuijk had a spin at the exit of turn 1, calling it a day by returning to the pits at the end of the following lap. Meanwhile, Dylan Pereira, a winner here in 2020 was making progress through the field, but not finding overtaking easy. Possibly the undertray had been damaged in his off-track excursion on lap 1, but he had only managed to get up to 13th by half-distance. In the last two laps, he was able to make another two positions, but attracted the disapproving eye of the race stewards as he did so and was penalised a further five seconds for his indiscretions.
Simmenauer was able to partially make up for his earlier mistake, finally getting past Jesse van Kuijk on the last lap to secure himself a top-ten finish.
Rookies and ProAms provide good entertainment.
The chequered flag fell deservingly to Larry ten Voorde, making it two wins from two races and surely giving him high hopes for a third in just a few days’ time when the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will hold its third round at the same venue.
P1 – incredible. Couldn't have gone any better. Thanks to the team!
In the Rookie Classification, Dorian Boccolacci continued his winning ways with another dominant performance ahead of Laurin Heinrich and #14 Ludovico Laurini (ITA/Dinamic Motorsport SRL).
In Pro-Am, #27 Roar Lindland (NOR/Nebulus Racing by Huber) took the honours, finishing ahead of #5 Nicolas Misslin (MCO/Lechner Racing Middle East) and #15 Philipp Sager (AUT/Dinamic Motorsport SRL).
The Red Bull Ring had it all again. The race was close until the last minute – especially at the back of the field. I'm looking forward to the next race weekend here. Let's see which driver will prevail then, and whether it will be as easy as today for Ten Voorde.
No time to relax, get ready to race.
As the Formula 1 teams prepare for another Grand Prix in Spielberg, the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will be back as well for the ‘double header’. Until then there will be a lot of data analysed – Team GP Elite and Larry ten Voorde will want to continue in the same vein, but for the rest, there is clearly work to be done.
For the other podium finishers, the race saw a welcome turn-around in fortunes since Monaco – Güven having finished out of the points there and Köhler a relatively disappointing sixth. For last year’s championship runner-up, Dylan Pereira, things can surely only get better – he has only 7 championship points from two rounds.
For sure there will be change next week – if only in the weather!