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GT Winter Series Aragon: Multiple manufacturers set to battle in GT4WS

Two days of testing kicked off preparations for the penultimate weekend of Gedlich Racing’s 2024 Winter Series at MotorLand Aragon, with all four categories enjoying copious amounts of track time at the 5.344km circuit.

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The Prototype Winter Series rejoins the GTWS, GT4WS and Formula Winter Series this weekend for the first time since the Portimao rounds in January, to set up a schedule featuring a bumper total of 11 races across Saturday and Sunday.

GT4WS
Forsetti Racing’s lone Aston Martin Vantage GT4 set the pace in the GT4WS, as Mikey Porter and Jamie Day topped the second session on Thursday and two of three on Friday. Elite Motorsport’s McLaren Artura driven by Tom Lebbon and Zac Meakin proved fastest in the other two sessions.

“It’s been really good for us, especially as it’s a new track for us as a team,” said Forsetti chief Joe Holloway. “Lots of learning on tyres and set-up. Jamie has done a little bit of single-seaters here, but it’s basically new for the drivers.

“The car seems to be handling quite well, we’ve made a few tweaks to make it a bit quicker. The biggest thing is getting the tyre in the window of performance. It has quite an abrasive surface here, so set-up is quite important for both single-lap and long-run pace.”

The Elite McLaren has won the previous two endurance races at Jerez and Valencia, but Holloway is optimistic MotorLand Aragon will play to the Aston Martin’s strengths: “We found in Valencia we were really struggling towards the end of the stint, which is why the Schnitzelalm Mercedes was so quick, and in the long race the McLaren was just too quick for us. We’re feeling a bit better about the track and the car set-up, so we’ll see.

“It’s better to have more competition and competitors out there pushing us. It’s good for us to keep our eye in and do a good job. This weekend we have five Pro class entries, so I’m looking forward to seeing what the pace is relative to others. And the format, it’s exciting when you have multiple races across the weekend to see who comes out on top with different formats and different drivers.”

Elite’s Meakin is confident the yellow McLaren will once again take the fight to the championship-leading Vantage.

“It’s been a decent couple of days,” he said. “We’re nice and quick, even if we’re still a little bit off the Aston. But we should be racy with them. This is my first time here and I’d describe the track as scary fun! It’s a bum-twitcher on some of the corners… We don’t have the torque of everyone else coming on to the back straight, but we should be fine.”

He predicts a three-way fight between Aston Martin, McLaren and Mercedes: “The Schnitzelalm Mercedes is right there with us and the Aston, they’re not far behind, so it should be tight between all three of us.”

GTWS


The GT3 division is all set for a Mercedes AMG battle royal this weekend. SR Motorsport’s Kenneth Heyer and Jay Mo Hartling (pictured) proved quickest in three of the four sessions across the two days.

But the pairing will face a stern challenge from Martin Kaczmarksi in PTT Racing’s Mercedes AMG GT3 Evo and David Thilenius and Moritz Wiskirchen in Schnitzelalm Racing’s version. Haupt Racing and its 17-year-old sensation Finn Wiebelhaus are missing this round, but will return next week for the season finale in Barcelona.

Sadly, only the Rinaldi Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3 R driven by Pierre Ehret and Christian Hook will offer some marque variety in the GT3 division, after Biermarcher Racing was forced to withdraw its Ferrari 488 GT3.

Uwe Lauer crashed head-on at Turn 8 on Thursday afternoon, causing chassis damage to the car which could not be fixed at the circuit. Indeed, the team will also be forced to miss Barcelona too.

Racar Motorsport heads into the weekend as the entry to beat in the class for Porsche’s 992 GT3 Cup car. Leandra Martins and Dylan Pereira lapped rapidly in a handsome field that also includes entries from PPT Racing, Plusline Racing Team, MS Racing and a double dose of GT3 Cup exotica from WILECO Motorsport.

FWS

Another huge grid of 38 cars will once again scrap over three races in the Formula Winter Series at MotorLand Aragon. Campos Racing’s James Egozi should come into the weekend feeling confident after topping the final two sessions on Friday. His time of 1m 59.493s in the final one proved the best of the two days and was an impressive 0.6s faster than joint championship leader and team-mate Andres Cardenas.

MP Motorsport’s Griffin Peebles shares that points lead with Cardenas after the opening two rounds and will be aiming for his third victory of the season following wins at both Jerez and Valencia.

“I’ll just do the best I can,” said Peebles. “Obviously there are some things I can’t control. I think we have the speed to do it. We just need to be consistent and do good results. Qualifying is very important and we have two sessions in a row this weekend, so we’ll focus on the races later. It’s certainly a track I don’t mind, I wouldn’t say I like it, but the speed I’ve shown is good so I’m confident.”

One newcomer this weekend is American Preston Lambert, who will be making his European car racing debut at MotorLand Aragon with Rodin Motorsport.

“It’s great to be here in Spain,” he said. “I started karting about five years ago, and quickly became one of the best drivers in America. I did some international races and Formula 4 last year, and now I’m here. It’s quite a big step, but we’re making positive moves forward. I’m getting on well with the team and I’m excited to get on.”

Bidding adieu to the FWS will be Bianca Bustamante. The McLaren Academy driver will miss the final round in Barcelona to begin her season in F1 Academy in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia next weekend. She says she has gained valuable experience racing in the winter series.

“I feel I’ve grown a lot personally, my mentality and mindset,” she said. “You just have to think about so many variables when you are competing in a field of nearly 40 drivers, such as track limits and positioning yourself in qualifying. It makes you be very proactive in the car.

“It really is a nice experience. We’ve had ups and downs in the past two weeks, we’ve struggled a bit with the car. I think this weekend I’m coming back as a stronger driver and person. We’re just doing our best to prepare for F1 Academy.”

PTWS

The sight of rapid sports prototypes pressing on into a beautiful sunset, and then into darkness on Friday evening capped a superb two days of action. Jon Brownson and Laurents Horr topped the times in their DKR Engineering Duqueine D08 LMP3, in a session which was cut short from its planned one hour and 50 minute duration by a red flag 15 minutes early.

They were just 0.259s faster than the Konrad Motorsport Ligier JSP320 of Danny Soufi and Glenn van Berlo. In a super-competitive session, Rinaldi Motorsport’s Ligier driven by Steve Parrow and Daniel Keilwitz was just 0.07s slower than the Konrad car in third.

The DKR and Konrad entries were fastest in the pair of sessions on Thursday. The PTWS will put on a pair of races this weekend, both of 50 minutes duration. The Saturday round will run at the end of the bill and into darkness, with Sunday’s race scheduled to start at 12.50pm local time.

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