A thrilling encounter at Laguna Seca resulted in an impressively managed victory for Jernej Simončič. This result only served to drag the Slovenian further towards the championship points leader; conveniently the driver who he directly bested on track that day.
In spite of not winning a race this season, Dennis Jordan entered the fourth round of the championship with a 14-point lead. With half the season left to run, this gap was little comfort – especially considering how tightly packed the top 10 remained.
As ever, the qualification session proved to be a tight and tense affair. Daniel Stepkowski, sitting fourth in the table, finished on top by a tenth or so. With a first pole position in the pocket, he would not be afforded the luxury to rest on his laurels as strong opponents lined up behind.
Simončič would surely be eyeing a second successive win from second. Jordan managed a respectable fourth although the standout performance came from Matt Richards who claimed third.
Dawid Mroczek and Alex Siebel both struggled. The German put in a somewhat respectable effort for seventh at the start. Far better than the Pole who lamented down in twelfth behind stablemate and Sebring star Michi Hoyer.
An early green flag made for quite the storm into the first corner. Despite some nervy moments, the field remained well-behaved and some excellent moves were executed.
Richards shocked the front row, stealing thunder to strike first place. Behind him, Timotej Andonovski moved up into third whilst pole sitter Stepkowski dropped back to fourth.
Jordan was hardly enjoying himself either. Having already lost one place, just minutes later he would fail to defend another; Jimi Nisula pulling off a sweet pass around the outside of Turn 1.
The timing was fortuitous since further up the round, Andonovski found himself in strife at Turn 6. Stepkowski, in avoiding action, allowed Nisula to slip into the final podium slot.
Following a strong ten minutes in the lead, tragedy struck Richards as a disconnect removed him from contention. His bad luck was music to the ears of Simončič who therefore inherited the lead from the Welshman.
In the meantime, his stablemates had been moving their way up the order. Hoyer now occupied sixth, Mroczek lay in eighth with the spirited Mia Rose sandwiched in between.
Refinding his rhythm, Stepkowski piled the pressure on Nisula for many minutes before the Finn finally cracked. In a sensational contest, Nisula’s poor exit out of Turn 7 teed up Stepkowski to pass around the outside of Turn 8. Little did either expect the audacity of Jordan to try and mug the pair of them. Ultimately, only Nisula lost out to the genius of the German.
His pace continued to flag. Siebel played the patient game before launching an undefendable charge down the inside of Turn 1, followed through by Hoyer while Nisula struggled off-line.
Behind, all hell broke loose. Mroczek, having had enough of following Rose, made contact – sending her into a half-spin. The red mist appeared to descend, leading to Rose lashing out against Ryan Elliott as he attempted to capitalise.
A disaster in waiting, Elliott (upon exiting Turn 11) headed into the barrier and retirement by proxy. Rose would, at least, enjoy the knowledge that Mroczek would end up back in the garage himself; not scoring at a crucial point in the season.
Entering the final twenty minutes, the pace of Simončič was beginning to wane quite severely to the extent that both Stepkowski and Jordan were well within striking distance. The tactical battle in the spotlight set up a tantalising finale.
Simončič was on failing hards tyres, Stepkowski was on the brittle Mediums whilst Jordan’s Ferrari was going from strength to strength with its superior tyre wear.
Such was the intensity of the scrap that even Siebel was allowed to join the party. It was a truly excellent show of respect and guile before, at last, Jordan broke the status quo by passing Stepkowski. By the time he did this, however, it was the last lap. Simončič simply had to guide his car to the chequered flag and in doing so picked up another win to add to his mighty collection.
Jordan and Stepkowski rounded out the podium ensuring that the complexion of the championship table remained as intriguing as ever heading into Round 5 at Lime Rock.
GT Challenge 2023 Round 4 Indianapolis results
- Jernej Simončič
- Dennis Jordan
- Daniel Stepkowski
- Alex Siebel
- Michi Hoyer
- Timotej Andonovski
- Jimi Nisula
- Fabian Balle
- Remi Delorme
- Mia Rose
GT Challenge 2023 Drivers’ Standings after Round 4
- Dennis Jordan – 551 points
- Alex Siebel – 534 points
- Daniel Stepkowski – 532 points
- Michi Hoyer – 524 points
- Jernej Simončič – 521 points
- Jimi Nisula – 513 points
- Dawid Mroczek – 508 points
- Timotej Andonovski – 508 points
- Arda Ercan – 500 points
- Mia Rose – 498 points
2023 GT Challenge calendar
Qualification | 21st February – 19th March Rd1 – Long Beach – 27th March Rd2 – Sebring – 3rd April Rd3 – Laguna Seca – 10th April Rd4 – Indianapolis – 17th April
- Rd5 – Lime Rock Park – 24th April
- Rd6 – Daytona – 1st May