ADAC GT Masters

Verstappen has his fingers crossed: Dutch drivers out to impress at home event

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Nicky Catsburg has his sights set on a podium in front of his home crowd. Thierry Vermeulen can take Max Verstappen’s advice as he aims for the top ten. The circuit in the Dutch dunes in Zandvoort hosts round three of the German GT Championship.

Munich. The ADAC GT Masters is going to the seaside. From 24th to 26th June, round three of the season takes the German GT Championship to Circuit Zandvoort, just a stone’s throw from the North Sea coast. The circuit in the Dutch dunes enjoys cult status among spectators and crowds, and is a particular highlight for two drivers in the ADAC GT Masters field. Zandvoort is the home event for 19-year-old Dutchman Thierry Vermeulen and BMW works driver Nicky Catsburg, and they are looking forward to a festival of motorsport with the fans, family, friends and acquaintances. Vermeulen can also count on the support of Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen.

Nicky Catsburg and Jesse Krohn are currently fourth in the table © Photo: ADAC

Nicky Catsburg has already gained experience at his home circuit as a guest starter in the ADAC GT Masters, and finished runner-up alongside Albert von Thurn und Taxis in a Lamborghini in 2015. A permanent driver this year, he shares the cockpit of a BMW M4 GT3 with fellow works driver Jesse Krohn (31/FIN) and has his sights set on a podium finish with the Schubert Motorsport team. “We have to find the right set-up for the car, then we could be looking at a podium or even more. We cannot afford any mistakes, as the ADAC GT Masters is one of the best GT series around. We are fourth in the table, so obviously have one eye on the championship,” says the 34-year-old, who is extra motivated ahead of the start in front of his family, friends, and the Dutch fans.

However, Catsburg does not believe there will be much of a home advantage. “I have not raced in Zandvoort that often, so I cannot claim to be an expert there. It is an old-school circuit with crazy banked corners, at which we are looking to put on a fantastic display of motorsport for the spectators,” he says, before clearing up one common preconception. “Many say that the sand, which blows across the track from the dunes, is a big problem. I have never been aware of it.”

His compatriot Thierry Vermeulen has lined up in various series in Zandvoort, and finished runner-up there in the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux in 2021. This year, the 19-year-old starts in the ADAC GT Masters for the first time. Together with works driver Mattia Drudi (23/I) in an Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II for the Car Collection Motorsport team, Vermeulen is determined to put on a great show for the home fans. Not only can the young Dutchman call on the experience of his partner, but also advice from his rapid compatriot Max Verstappen. Vermeulen grew up with the Formula 1 world champion, and his father Raymond is Verstappen’s manager. “I often get tips from Max – and he knows what it takes to win, particularly in Zandvoort. He also helps me by sharing content of me on his website. However, I must find my own way, and a strong series like the ADAC GT Masters really helps me in that regard.”

The event on the North Sea coast is the highlight of the season for Vermeulen: “I love the technically demanding Circuit Zandvoort. It has high-speed sections, banked corners, and is an old-school track that is unforgiving if you make a mistake. Modern circuits have big, tarmacked run-off zones, so you can take more risks. If you overdo it in Zandvoort, you will end up in the gravel or a wall, and your race will usually be over,” says Vermeulen, who is not predicting any marvels at his home circuit. “The ADAC GT Masters is an incredibly strong and evenly-matched series, with top-class manufacturers and extremely fast drivers. I am in my third year as a professional driver. I want to take a few steps forward and continue to learn at my home track. A single-digit result, like the one in Oschersleben, would be a success. For that to be possible, we need to qualify in the top ten.”

All ADAC GT Masters races start at 13:00. International viewers can watch the qualifying and the races live on adac.de/motorsport, the new ADAC Motorsports YouTube channel youtube.com/ADACMotorsports and motorsport.tv.