Photo: FIA GT Nations Cup
Turkey, with its Ram Racing-run #34 Merdedes-AMG GT3 piloted by Salih Yoluc and Ayhancan Guven, took victory in the inaugural FIA GT Nations Cup, crossing the line 3.311 seconds ahead of the #93 United Kingdom-entered AF Corse-run Ferrari F488 GT3 with the driving duo of Chris Froggatt and Chris Buncombe.
Completing the top three was the Denmark-entered #16 Ferrari, run by Formula Racing, and driven by Johnny Laursen and Nicklas Nielsen.
There was drama on the opening lap when an off-track excursion by the #8 Team Belgium Audi R8 LMS led to a further incident which resulted in the entries of Teams France, Argentina and Germany having to withdraw.
When the racing resumed, the #34 Turkish entry, with Salih Yoluc at the wheel, led the reduced field, Yoluc, however, found it a challenge to get the Mercedes up to speed and was overtaken by Chris Froggatt in the UK entry. Yoluc also ceded second place to the Team Russia entry.
Froggatt had pulled out a gap as the driver changes approached and, after the pit stops had cycled through, it was Buncombe in the lead with Russia in second and Ayhancan Guven, now at the wheel for Team Turkey, in the third. Guven, however, was able to get the Mercedes-AMG GT3 hooked up in a way that had eluded Yoluc and set up catching and passing Russia and closing the gap to Buncombe in the UK entry.
Buncombe appeared to be struggling for grip and so, with ten minutes, Guven passed for the lead and went for the victory.
The Danish entry had started from 15th on the grid and a solid performance from Johnny Laursen, avoiding the first lap incident, and a similarly focused drive from Niklas Nielsen meant that Nielsen was in a position to pass Team Hong Kong for the final podium position.
Salih Yoluc was absolutely delighted to have won the first running of the FIA GT Nations Cup.
“It is a great feeling to win the FIA GT Nations Cup for Team Turkey,” said Yoluc. “It was pure racing in the the fight with Team UK after the restart but then we managed to settle into a better place after that. We had some moments and some doubts during the weekend but we believed we had the speed and we did it! Ayhancan drove so well and it is down to him for passing the two cars towards the end that we won the race.”
Ayhancan Guven, who has now firmly established himself on the GT map after only starting racing in cars in 2018, enjoyed his first taste of international GT racing.
“It was really tough ion the beginning,” said Guven. “The GT3 car is quite new to me so I didn’t want to push too hard, as that is when I have made mistakes. I knew that I had to get past the Team Russia car quite quickly but even then I think we were around eight seconds behind the Team UK car. As I got closer I could see he was struggling and we managed to make the move. I have really enjoyed the weekend and we’re delighted to have won the FIA GT Nations Cup.”