W&S Motorsport 2022 season review: Champion in debut season in the GT4 European Series
With many years of experience in GT4 racing, W&S Motorsport competed in the GT4 European Series for the first time in 2022 and celebrated the title in the Am category after an exciting season. In addition to the two drivers Andrey Solukovtsev and Mikhail Loboda in the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport #37 in the Am classification, the duo Max Kronberg and Hendrik Still competed in the sister car #38 in the Pro-Am class. Solukovtsev and Loboda crowned themselves as European Am champions after the finale in Barcelona.
The two brand new Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport completed their first kilometres on the Circuit Paul Ricard in France back in March. W&S Motorsport tested extensively at the high-speed circuit in the south of France to gather important data and give the drivers the opportunity to adapt to the new Cayman GT4s. Another test day immediately before the season opener on the first weekend of April in Imola was used to get to know the track.
The GT4 European Series, organised by the SRO, competed throughout the season with a field of around 50 GT4 cars from various manufacturers on six race tracks in Europe. Solukovtsev and Loboda completed the first race over one hour in second place in the Am classification, but were unable to score any further points on Sunday after technical problems. Kronberg and Still in the #38 Cayman GT4 finished both races in a strong fourth place in class and eighth in the overall field in each race.
The second race weekend of the GT4 European Series led the team of Patrick Wagner and Daniel Schellhaas to the Côte d'Azur at the beginning of June. Kronberg and Still were only able to finish the first competition in 13th place in the Pro-Am class after contact in the starting phase. Solukovtsev and Loboda saw the chequered flag in fifth place in the Am class. The two drivers in the #37 Porsche Cayman GT4 then just missed the podium in class on Sunday with fourth place. Kronberg/Still finished the heat battle in seventh place in the Pro-Am.
The third stage of the GT4 European Series led to Italy again. In Misano at the Adriatic Sea, the heat was once again sweltering and made it difficult for the protagonists in the cockpit. Unimpressed by this, Solukovtsev and Loboda finished the first race in a respectable twelfth place overall and second in class. Sunday's race then did not go as desired and finished in eighth place in the Am class. Still started from the third row of the grid on Saturday and was already sniffing at a podium finish before a full-course yellow period directly before the driver change on Kronberg ruined the team tactics. The German duo was also hit by bad luck on Sunday and after a puncture, 13th place in the Pro-Am was the maximum, despite the following fast laps.
First class win at Spa-Francorchamps
The highlight of the season were the two rounds of the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps on the historic Formula 1 circuit in the Belgian Ardennes. Kronberg and Still started from the first row of the grid into the first race with a record field of starters. Until half-time, it looked like the first overall victory in the series as Still was leading the pack in a commanding manner. Unfortunately, a technical problem put a spanner in the works and he had to retire the Porsche Cayman GT4 #38.
For Solukovtsev and Loboda with the #37 the first race in Spa was very successful. Both drove a faultless race, the team had found the right strategy in the turbulent race and the victory in the class was the well-deserved reward. Bad luck struck in the second race and both W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport cars failed to finish after accidents. Accordingly disappointed, Max Kronberg said: "This rollercoaster of emotions was quite intense. At first it looked as if we would take the overall win, but then a technical defect dashed all our hopes. I couldn't avoid the collision on Saturday right after the first corner and the race was already over for us before it actually started."
The penultimate weekend of the series took place at the Hockenheimring in Baden-Württemberg and was thus a home race for the racing team from Swabia. Due to the wealth of experience, the two Porsche could be perfectly set up and into Saturday's race they started with the #38 and Still as the starting driver from the second position. The #37 placed directly behind it in third place in the overall starting field and on pole position in the Am class.
After Still handed the Cayman GT4 over to Kronberg, rain set in, but Kronberg was able to maintain second place in the Pro-Am and celebrated his first podium finish in the GT4 European Series with his teammate Still. The two were able to repeat their success the following day and also took second place in the Pro-Am class in the second race. Solukovtsev and Loboda confirmed their steep learning curve over the season with two pole positions and two commanding victories in the Am class and took the championship lead in the Am standings before the final race weekend.
Excitement in the title fight at the season finale in Barcelona
Highly motivated and spurred on by their successes, W&S Motorsport travelled to Spain at the beginning of October for the season finale in Barcelona. However, the first race was unlucky for Solukovtsev and Loboda after a contact, but the duo still collected valuable points for the championship with a fifth place. Unfortunately, bad luck also struck them in the last race of the season and the race was over after only one lap due to a technical problem. However, the points collected over the season were enough to win the title in the Am drivers' classification of the GT4 European Series and crown them as champions of the Am classification with 157 points and a 13-point lead.
"We did it! After all the ups and downs over the season, I can say that the team kept pushing us all the way and did an indescribable job," summed up Andrey Solukovtsev. "Thanks to W&S Motorsport for the professional support and to Mikhail for his great performance alongside me. Of course, also many thanks to Nicolaj for his coaching, he has contributed a significant part to our learning curve and great success! We are over the moon to win the GT4 European Series championship!" In the Am team standings, W&S Motorsport finished second, just two points behind first place.
Kronberg and Still did not see the chequered flag after an accident on Saturday, but managed a conciliatory finish on Sunday with seventh overall and fourth in Pro-Am. "The top-10 result as a good end to the season was once again super and of course congratulations to the driver colleagues in the sister car for the title and to the W&S Motorsport team for second place in the team standings," said Max Kronberg. "Every competition was characterised by close battles and luck was not always on our side. Hendrik was always fully pushing and gave me a lot of important knowledge. The GT4 European Series was a completely new experience and we'll see where the journey takes us next season."
"Congratulations and big kudos to Andrey and Mikhail for a terrific win in such a fiercely competitive series. It was the first season in the GT4 European Series for the whole team and everyone did an incredible job, despite setbacks in between," said a delighted Team Principal Daniel Schellhaas. "I'm really proud to know such a great team behind me and the runner-up title in the team standings is absolutely deserved. In addition, we are also the most successful Porsche in the class. The performance of Max and Hendrik is no less impressive. The competition in the Pro-Am has been incredibly close and both drove very good races. I can only reiterate my praise and gratitude and hope we can build on this next year!"
The team is already planning its second season in the GT4 European Series and is looking to build on its successes again with strong crews in the cockpit.
After an exciting weekend, W&S Motorsport ended its debut season in the GT4 European Series with the Am class title win by Andrey Solukovtsev and Mikhail Loboda in the #37 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. The racing team of Patrick Wagner and Daniel Schellhaas also celebrated the runner-up title in the Am team classification.read more
Perfect weekend for W&S Motorsport at the fifth round of the GT4 European Series at Hockenheim. The team from Ofterdingen finished on the podium in both races at their home race with both Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport and collected important points for the championship. Andrey Solukovtsev and Mikhail Loboda (#37) took two wins in the Am class and took the lead in the Am classification.read more
W&S Motorsport competed in races three and four of the GT4 European Series in the south of France at the Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet last weekend with two Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport. The field of over 55 GT4 cars offered two exciting and eventful races over one hour each and the team of Patrick Wagner and Daniel Schellhaas celebrated their first podium finishes in the Pro-Am classification after the setbacks at Monza.read more