Phoenix Racing finished the 2018 GT season with the GT4 International Cup. Three races were on the agenda and here’s the summary of the most important occurrences.
Race 1: up and away
Milan Dontje started the first of the three races at the Bahrain International circuit in pole position. The 23-year-old lost his initial lead, but determinedly fought his way back up front. The Phoenix Racing Junior’s fierce battle with McLaren driver Finlay Hutchinson was one of the race’s highlights.
After leaving the pits, Phoenix Racing resumed the lead with Nicolaj Møller Madsen confidently holding it all the way to the finish and clinching the victory. “The car was fantastic and I had no problems pulling ahead”, said Møller Madsen looking back.
Race 2: top positions for both cars
The first two thirds of the second qualifying race were as thrilling as afternoon tea with one’s grandparents before Christmas! But Milan Dontje turned up the voltage, when he took the wheel and began the pursuit for victory. The Dutchman increased pressure on leading man Gilles Vannelet and finally overtook the Frenchman’s BMW in the start-finish straight, paving the way for victory number two.
Team colleagues Max Hesse and Gosia Rdest rounded off the success with a strong sixth place, despite having to face technical problems in the first qualifying and losing hopes of a good position. However, the two Phoenix Juniors came up trumps and the German-Polish pair was rewarded with second place in their category.
Both qualifying races were surprisingly free of safety-car phases and if you’ve followed our GT4 European Championship season, you’ll know that GT4 races are usually accompanied by numerous incidents and corresponding safety-car phases.
Race 3: bad luck in the finale
The weekend’s one and only safety-car phase occurred in the third race and at the most inopportune moment. After starting from pole position, Milan Dontje had taken a comfortable lead of more than five seconds, but when a Porsche stranded on the back straight, a yellow-phase resulted and the reigning European champion’s leading edge went down the drain. The rivalling Alpine saw its chance to pass the Phoenix Audi in the pits and then took the lead. So after winning two races, Nicolaj Møller Madsen crossed the finish line in second place.
Max Hesse and Gosia Rdest came in ninth, which meant ranking fourth in their category. “A result we can be really pleased with”, said a happy Rookie Hesse after what was just his second GT4 performance. “I had to get used to the car at the beginning, but things got better and better. I’m very thankful for this opportunity and I was able to learn a great deal.”
Hesse made a big impression above all in the first half of the race, when he courageously mastered the unknown track. Starting from sixth on the grid, he made two positions good and was almost close enough to touch the podium!
Phoenix Racing’s successful GT4 season ended with the Bahrain GT Festival in Arabia and the team was able to add another row of trophies to its European Championship title, the Dubai 24H victory and numerous category wins.