Promising GTC Race season opener for KTM customer teams at Oschersleben

In the process, the duo has its eyes firmly set on one goal: obtaining a place in the GTC Race junior driver pool.
In 2021, Rick Bouthoorn, the youngest of the two razoon drivers, had just missed out on this goal in his maiden season. In the 2022 season, he definitely wants to be among the frontrunners in the GTC Race junior driver pool, comprising a total of 14 drivers. “For me, last year was an interim year in which I had to make the step to GT4 racing, coming from karting. The pace was already very good back then, but here and there, some experience was lacking. This time, it is different. I definitely want to end up in the top 3 of the final standings and leave nothing to chance,” the 17-year-old Dutchman says. To achieve this, top results in the GT sprint races are required.

Initially, however, Rick Bouthoorn and his 21-year-old teammate Daniel Drexel competed in the endurance race. After initial participations in the KTM European Cup and TCM, it was Drexel’s first race in an official GT4 championship in 2022. Together, the two junior drivers started in changeable weather conditions and at a cold track. Rain, hail and single-digit asphalt temperatures: starting driver Drexel had to make his GTC Race debut in the most difficult conditions. Following a downpour just before the start of the race, parts of the track were still wet. Because of the high wind, however, the team still opted to change from rain tyres to slicks just before the 3-minute signal.

In the second half of the race, it became apparent how right this decision was. While Drexel still had to let go various GT4 cars that had started with rain tyres on the damp and cold track and dropped back from second to seventh place in the process, Bouthoorn made up one place after another after the driver change. With top-notch lap times and the fastest race lap time of all GT4 drivers, he made it all the way up to third place with his KTM X-BOW GT4. As a result of a time penalty for the leader, the two young drivers even ended up in second place of the GT4 class. “I am incredibly proud of my guys,” team principal Dominik Olbert said. “Keeping the car on track with slicks in these conditions and then making up so many positions requires talent and a clear view.”

For the two young drivers backed by KTM, the real test of their talent followed during the sprint race on Sunday. Bouthoorn was the first to drive on Sunday morning and initially had to let two Mercedes-AMG GT4s pass at the start. In an attempt to reclaim the postions, he briefly lost control of the car following contact in turn 14 and lost valuable positions. With an unbelievable competitive spirit and maximum pace, however, he managed to work his way back up into second place again. In the process, the two overtaking moves on the final lap were particularly spectacular. “It was a mega exciting race with some heart-stopping moments. I am proud and happy to have brought second place home. That has brought me a big step closer to my season goal,” the 17-year-old delighted. 

GTC Race newcomer Drexel started his first sprint race from eighth place. With solid lap times and no incidents to report, the Salzburg-born driver came home in sixth place of the GT4 classification and third in the junior driver pool classification after 30 minutes of racing. “Of course, I hoped for a little bit more, but all in all, I am quite happy with my first race. In the rest of the season, I will consistently work my way further up,” the young Austrian said. “At this track, there definitely was more potential in the car. At Oschersleben, the KTM X-BOW GT4 with its low weight is always right up there at the front. But I am still lacking mileage in the car. I will certainly make up for that until the next race. Then, things will certainly be different.”

As a result, the two drivers are now in second place (Bouthoorn) and fifth place (Drexel) of the GT4 junior driver pool standings. The three best-placed GT4 drivers between 16 and 30 years of age can look forward to an invitation for a selection day at the end of the season during which a renowned jury will select the most promising talent. The latter can then look forward to a fully-paid GT3 season in 2023.

For CCS Racing, the season opener had highs and lows in store. For the first race of the weekend, labelled GT60, Uwe Schmidt and Michael Grassl got themselves in a strong grid position by qualifying in sixth place. In spite of a good performance in adverse conditions, the duo eventually had to make do with 16th place following a 40-second time penalty.

The Sunday was like a roller-coaster ride for the team as well. Due to technical problems, the team was forced to retire early from the first sprint race. In the second race, however, things went much better. From eighth place on the grid, Grassl remained within striking distance to the frontrunners and eventually secured a top ten result by finishing in eighth place.

The teams will get their next chance to compete for podium results from 15 to 17 July. Then, the second ADAC Racing Weekend will be held at Lausitzring.