Dontje and Moller-Madsen complete GT4 International Cup qualifying race sweep in Bahrain
1 December 2018
The #5 Phoenix Racing crew of Milan Dontje and Nicolaj Moller-Madsen underlined their status as GT4 International Cup favourites with a second successive qualifying race victory in the afternoon’s race, securing pole position for the evening’s main event.
The #5 Audi R8 LMS (Silver Cup) did not take the lead until the final 10 minutes of the one-hour contest, but was still able to cross the finish line with a comfortable advantage of almost five seconds. It will start at the head of the grid for the deciding race, which is set to get underway at 17.45 local time at the Bahrain International Circuit.
The #41 Sainteloc Junior Team Audi R8 LMS (Pro-Am) led for the entirety of the opening stint thanks to pole-sitter Steven Palette, who then handed over to Michael Blanchemain for the second half of the race.
Blanchemain retained top spot as he exited the pits, but a spin on his out lap allowed the #39 3Y Technology BMW M4 (Pro-Am) to take over the lead. Enzo Guibbert had shown well during the first stint, running in P2 throughout, while crew-mate Gilles Vannelet also delivered a strong performance after taking the controls.
The #5 Phoenix-Audi had started from third in the hands of Moller-Madsen. He ran in P3 for the majority of the opening stint, though there was always a sense that the reigning GT4 European Series champions were biding their time.
The Danish driver then handed over to Dontje, who exited the pits in pursuit of the leading duo. Blanchemain’s spin allowed him to make quick work of the #41 Sainteloc-Audi, but the leading BMW would prove a more difficult challenge.
Dontje reeled Vannelet in at a rapid rate, but Vannelet defended brilliantly to keep the Audi at bay. The two went wheel-to-wheel on a number of occasions as they disputed the overall win, with Dontje eventually forcing his way past.
The #5 Audi was in control from this point onwards, pulling away to win by 4.942s. Vannelet brought the #39 BMW home in second place, capping an excellent run and collecting Pro-Am honours in the process.
The overall podium was completed by the #10 Academy Motorsport McLaren 570s (Silver Cup) after Finlay Hutchinson fought an exciting battle with Jerome Policand (AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, Silver Cup) during the race’s latter stages, pitting youth against experience. Hutchinson prevailed, though Policand used all of his nous and provided real entertainment in the process.
Policand eventually slipped to fifth, with the #36 CMR Alpine A110 (Silver Cup) passing the Mercedes-AMG at the finish. The #3 Phoenix-Audi was fifth on the road, securing Pro-Am runner-up in the process, ahead of the #41 Sainteloc-Audi.
The Am class was won by the #50 Scuderia Villorba Corse Maserati GranTurismo MC. The father-son duo of Piotr and Antoni Chodzen spent much of the race battling with the rival #51 Primus Racing Ginetta G55 to eventually secure the victory.
This evening’s main race will see the #5 Phoenix-Audi start from pole as a strong favourite to secure the inaugural GT4 International Cup. All of the action will be streamed live on the official GT4 European Series and Championnat de France - FFSA GT4 France websites and Facebook pages.