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Gedlich Racing Winter Series: Haupt ace heads the way in Valencia testing

A warming Spanish sun peeked out after an overcast start to the second of two days of dawn ’til dusk testing action, as teams from three categories of Gedlich Racing’s Winter Series racked up the kilometres at Circuit Ricardo Tormo in Valencia.

Gedlich Valencia testing

Gedlich Racing

Bumper fields from GTWS, GT4WS and FWS made the most of the valuable hours of track time, each completing multiple sessions over Thursday and Friday in preparation for an action-packed weekend of racing on the 4.005km circuit.

GTWS
Impressive 17-year-old Finn Wiebelhaus topped all three GTWS sessions on Friday in his Haupt Racing Team Mercedes AMG Evo GT3. Headlights were blazing as darkness began to fall in the final session, Wiebelhaus making the most of the cool conditions to set a best time of the test: 1m 30.943s. That was just 0.118s up on former factory Aston Martin World Endurance Championship racer Nicki Thiim in SSR Performance’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo II.

Wiebelhaus’s form bodes well for his second weekend in GTWS following his debut in Portimao. The teenager, who will miss the next round in Aragon but return for the final round in Barcelona, is gearing up for his first season in GT3, racing in the ADAC GT Masters. Previously he spent three years in karts and one year in Formula 4. Wiebelhaus is racing solo in GTWS to maximise his seat time as he acclimatises to the power of GT3.

As for Thiim, he too will race alone this weekend for his GTWS debut as the Dane prepares to follow in the wheel tracks of his father Kurt and race in the DTM.

“I’m here to get up to speed in the Lamborghini for the DTM,” said the 34-year-old, who is prioritising the two sprint races in Valencia. “I’m just doing this round of the Winter Series and it’s good learning with the sprint format. Valencia is also a little bit like some of the German circuits such as Oschersleben.”

The other Haupt Mercedes showed a good turn of pace in the hands of South African Kwanda Mokoena, another newcomer to GT3. Mokoena was fifth fastest in the final session, behind a GRWS Audi and a Team Joos Porsche. I love the track and the atmosphere,” said the driver who carries the image of a ram on the front of his helmet, thanks to a certain reputation earned in karting!

“This is my second year in Europe, I’m starting to fit in and I’m learning a lot. This is preparation for my season in GT Masters. Right now we are going in the right direction every session, to find that tenth or two. Baby steps I would call it, but as long as we are improving I can’t complain.”

GT4WS

Gedlich Valencia testing

Gedlich Valencia testing

Photo by: Gedlich Racing

The #19 Forsetti Motorsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Mikey Porter and Jamie Day nailed the fastest GT4 time of the test as conditions cooled for the category’s final session on Friday afternoon. But the Vantage’s mark of 1m 38.861sec was only 0.046s better than Elite Motorsport’s McLaren Artura GT4 driven by Tom Lebbon and Zack Meakin, which was fastest in two of the three sessions on Thursday.

Forsetti is running a second Vantage this weekend, and the team also gave a run to its brand-new 2024-spec Vantage, the first to be seen in Europe and which was only delivered to the team on Tuesday this week. The stunning plain white car was shaken down by development driver Matt George, who is also likely to feature in the races this weekend. The team is also considering juggling Porter in both cars during the 55-minute Race 3 endurance round on Sunday afternoon.

“We’ve had a lot of learning, especially bringing the new car along for a systems check,” said team principal Joe Holloway. “Having the second entry this weekend, we hope to ramp up the correlation of data to make sure we’re progressing and giving our drivers more seat time. The late afternoon was a little quicker because the ambient temperature dropped a bit, but we also tried a newer tyre.”

Among the entries on the 16-car GT4 grid this weekend is a Toyota Supra run under the banner of Harry Barton Racing. The 21-year-old is sharing the car with his 62-year-old veteran mentor Nigel Greensall for a one-off appearance in GT4WS, ahead of a planned campaign with the car in Europe this season.

FWS

Lia Block, Gedlich Valencia testing

Lia Block, Gedlich Valencia testing

Photo by: Gedlich Racing

Peruvian Andrés Cárdenas set a blistering pace for Campos as a huge 40-car field descended on Valencia. The Jerez Race 1 winner topped a session on Thursday, then two more on Friday afternoon. His time of 1m33.047s in the final session proved the best over the two days, but only by a scant 0.028s over fellow Jerez race winner, MP Motorsport’s Griffin Peebles. The consistent Mikel Pedersen was third fastest in that final session, just ahead of Jerez Race 3 victor Juan Cota.

The field is packed with young, raw talent for this second round of the 2024 FWS. Among them is René Lammers, son of 1988 Le Mans winner Jan, who was 12th fastest in the final session for MP Motorsport.

Formula Academy drivers Bianca Bustamante and Lia Block continued their preparations for the all-female Formula 1-backed Formula Academy series. McLaren junior Bustamante was 20th in the times in the final session, while Block – daughter of the late, great Ken Block – was a respectable 29th as she continues her brave transition from off-roading to single-seater circuit racing.

“I have two months and three races under my belt so far!” said the Williams Academy driver with a smile. “In Jerez I had a lot piled into one weekend including pouring rain, safety cars and three restarts. I have no expectations, just to learn as much as possible.”

She describes the chance to race that Tatuus Formula 4 car as a “lottery ticket” – despite the mountain she has to climb to get up to speed. “I have always been fascinated by open-wheel racing growing up watching it with my dad,” she explained. “It’s an unknown space, but I’d be disappointed if I didn’t give it a go.”

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