• Team RaceArt returns to Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux after four-year hiatus
  • Sam Jongejan stuns on team debut with overall podium and Rookie victory
  • Double Pro-Am podium, including victory, for Jules Grouwels


Maastricht, 13 May 2024 - Team RaceArt enjoyed an excellent return to the Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux with two class victories at the series season opener at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps. Drivers Sam Jongejan and Jules Grouwels each claimed a win in Porsche’s competitive one-make series, where the team competed for the first time since 2019.


The legendary Ardennes circuit hosted the traditional season opener for Carrera Cup Benelux, acting as a support series for the prestigious FIA World Endurance Championship. Frequently packed grandstands saw RaceArt race in the series for the first time since 2018, when Roger Grouwels bowed out as Am-class champion. This time, Jongejan and the junior Grouwels were set to compete in a 21-car field that featured drivers predominantly hailing from the Benelux countries, but also from nations as far afield as Germany, Sweden, Finland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.


Jongejan and Grouwels were each placed in a separate class for the season, with team newcomer Jongejan competing in the Rookie category for drivers new to the series. Grouwels, meanwhile, would race in Pro-Am, the same class where he claimed multiple race wins and podiums in Porsche Sprint Challenge Southern Europe earlier this year.


Track running was spread across three days of running on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Thursday was all about Free Practice, with two 40-minute sessions giving Jongejan and Grouwels the opportunity to find their feet and allow the team to make setup changes. Although the team tested at Spa twice in the weeks leading up to the season opener, these sessions were crucial to properly prepare given the unusually high temperatures for the area around this time of the year.


Action got underway nice and early on Friday, with Carrera Cup qualifying scheduled for 09:05 a.m. in the morning. Unfortunately, a crash for another competitor at Raidillon resulted in a curtailed session that did not allow all drivers to set representative times. Series officials therefore made the decision to base the grid for Race 2 on the results from the second Free Practice session, as opposed to taking the second-quickest laps set in qualifying. This meant that Jongejan qualified third and fifth in the Rookie class, while Grouwels secured third and second in Pro-Am for each of the two 30-minute races.


Starting from sixth overall for the opening race on Friday afternoon, Jongejan would grab headlines with a stunning opening lap that laid the groundwork for a class victory. In only his third race in Carrera Cup, the youngster moved from sixth to fourth in the first corner and then grabbed the Rookie class lead with a move into Les Combes on Nick Ho. He then further solidified his position with a bold move on Robin Knutsson at Pouhon to take second place overall. He would remain there for the remainder of the race, delivering a class win and an overall podium in his first race with the team.

Grouwels, meanwhile, enjoyed a challenging start to his race, fighting with several fast drivers that were out of place after the disrupted qualifying session earlier on Friday. After initially dropping out of position for a Pro-Am podium, he fought back and battled for third place with Maik Rosenberg until the German eventually spun. Third at the line then became second in the final results as a result of a time penalty for Ralph Poppelaars.

During race 2 on Saturday, a challenge for a potential second straight Rookie podium for Jongejan came undone when he got caught up in someone else’s incident. Running fourth in class at the time, Jongejan was powerless to avoid a heavy impact with Benjamin Paque after the Belgian rejoined directly into his path after a spin. The collision briefly sent Jongejan airborne and took him out of the race, although he walked away unharmed.


In Pro-Am, Grouwels kept his head cool through an incident-packed opening phase of the race in which three of his class rivals were eliminated. He then fought his way past both Maxime Bertho and Jani Käkelä before opening up a margin of over three seconds to claim his first win of the season.


In total, the team claimed two class victories, one overall podium and one class podium upon its first Carrera Cup Benelux weekend since 2018. Despite retiring on Saturday, Jongejan’s class win means he sits fifth in the Rookie standings and seventh in the overall standings after the opening weekend. Grouwels is one point removed from the Pro-Am championship lead in second place, while the team holds sixth in the teams’ standings.


Porsche Carrera Cup Benelux continues at Zandvoort on June 7-9, where it forms part of the support package for DTM.


Drivers' comments:


Sam Jongejan: “For us, this weekend would be about seeing whether or not we would be competitive. Things started out pretty tough, but things picked up from qualifying onwards and we could see there was speed in the car. This is exactly what we showed during race 1. So, despite what happened during race 2, I go to Zandvoort very motivated.”


Jules Grouwels: “I look back very positively on the weekend in Spa, with two successful races that resulted in a first and second place finish. I learned a lot again and fought many great duels with both Pro-Am drivers and Rookies. To finish the weekend with a second place in the championship is a great start to the season.”

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