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Thierry P4 and P6 in GTWC Hockenheim: 'Very solid weekend'

Published on 05 September 2023 by Niels Hendrix Racing is represented in the GT World Challenge Europe Sprint Cup (GTWC Sprint) by Thierry Vermeulen, who drives a Ferrari 296 GT3 of Emil Frey Racing. The 21-year-old Dutchman made his appearance last weekend during the event at the Hockenheimring in Germany.

“I think we can take a lot of positives from this weekend. Although I leave slightly disappointed that we didn’t get to take the trophy back home, it still was a very solid weekend”, says Thierry. “Big thanks to Emil Frey, as the car was very strong all weekend. On Friday we realised we had a good package so from there on it was about keeping it all together and focussing on the small details.”

Thierry continues: “On Saturday Albert Costa did qualifying in the morning, but unfortunately some small infringements on track limits caused us to fall further back than we had hoped so we had to start from P13. But we knew we had a strong car and were hoping for a top eight finish. In a championship like this, it’s all very tight and competitive. It’s not easy as you have to nail everything including pitstop, driver change etc. So, we didn’t think it would be easy.”

“We kept pushing hard during the race, Albert worked his way forward and we pitted a little later than the rest allowing me to come out in a very nice P6. From there on we fought very hard, nice battles, so really fun racing and fair and hard battling. I managed to secure a podium position in the last lap on the last corner, but we had a bit of contact before which in my opinion was caused by both of us. He was breaking a lot at the apex and I couldn’t avoid the contact. It was a very hard battle before that, so we knew it would go on till the end. I was very happy to cross in P3 and have the podium celebrations with the team, we all worked very hard for it. We didn’t get a podium yet, we’ve lost it already a few times in other GT World Challenge rounds but we definitely put it more together on Saturday. Sadly, after long discussions, the stewards concluded the battle was too hard and I got a one second penalty which brought car 32 back in front and we officially finished P4, so a little frustrating going to bed like that, but of course even if we don’t always agree we do respect the stewards’ decisions.”

“We knew we had another chance on Sunday. The car was still strong. It’s important to have a good qualifying, there are many different cars in this championship, over 45 cars, so on a track like this you have to manage the traffic and track limits. I think I did a solid job qualifying in P4, my best qualifying of the year. Mattia Drudi was on pole, so nice to see him do well, I would of course have liked that pole myself with a two tenth difference behind him. But, a row two start is very positive and from there on we knew we could fight.”

“A difficult start meant I lost one position and I came in P5 for the pitstop, which was still good. Sadly we had a difficult pitstop so this is something to work on with the team as it’s not the first time we lost places during a pitstop. From there it was difficult to move ahead. Good points thought this weekend, nice to finish P4 and P6, but I feel with the potential we had it could have been better. As a team we need to try and maximise our potential, so still a little bit of work cut out for us.”

“Only a few days rest and we can jump back in the car and show what we’ve got for the DTM in Sachsenring. Very excited to be racing on this amazing old school track, high speed with a great flow to it. Overtaking might be a bit more challenging than in Hockenheim. But I am really excited, a tough weekend ahead but let’s hope to continue this top ten streak.”