Milan Dontje, the new kid on the block at old-school Zandvoort

Milan Dontje, the new kid on the block at old-school Zandvoort

12.07.2019: During recent years, GT4 European Series races have become a key part of many Blancpain GT Series weekends. Indeed, all of the six events on this season's GT4 calend

During recent years, GT4 European Series races have become a key part of many Blancpain GT Series weekends. Indeed, all of the six events on this season's GT4 calendar are part of the support package for either the Endurance Cup or Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe, forging even stronger links between the two categories.
 




With this, GT4 has become the perfect platform for drivers wishing to take the next step in their career. There is the chance to gain experience of the same circuits used in the premier categories, drive comparable machinery and – perhaps most importantly - impress the right people.


This has certainly proven to be the case in 2019, with a trio of drivers on this year's Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe grid coming directly from last term's GT4 European Series field. Among them is the reigning champion – Milan Dontje – who has graduated from a title-winning assault aboard an Audi R8 LMS GT4 to drive a GT3 version of the same car for Attempto Racing.




This weekend, the 24-year-old Dutchman will compete on home turf at Zandvoort. With his local track returning to the calendar this year, the newcomer could not have timed his arrival better.



Born into racing



Dontje was always bound to end up at the circuit. As he puts it himself: "We are really a racing family. My dad is crazy about it." Based a little over half an hour from Zandvoort in a country known for its love of racing, it was inevitable that his future would involve four wheels and an engine.


Indeed, Milan is not the first Dontje to participate in the Blancpain GT Series. His elder brother Indy competed in the Endurance Cup between 2015 and 2017 and remains active in the sport. Indy will be back on the grid at this month's Total 24 Hours of Spa, joining the #333 Rinaldi Ferrari crew.


The elder Dontje served an apprenticeship in single-seaters, but this was never really an option for Milan. At 1.89m (6ft 2in) he is taller than most racing drivers and was unsure about how to take the next step. This led to him remaining in karting beyond his 18th birthday – later than the majority of his peers – and to a spell racing in the U.S. Eventually, however, he found a home.

 
"I drove a GT4 Corvette for Day-V-Tec in the Supercar Challenge,” Dontje explains. “I came second that year and found that I really liked GT cars."


A brief spell racing LMPs followed, before Dontje made two guest appearances in the Audi Sport TT Cup at the back end of 2016. A fifth-place finish in his final outing suggested that the single-make series could be a good fit.


 
"I didn't really know what to do at that time, but the TT Cup suited me well and Audi wanted me to drive there because I had been quick as a guest driver. So, in 2017 I did TT Cup and had quite a good season. I made some mistakes as well though, so I ended up fourth rather than third or second."


Dontje had shown definite signs of progress during 2017. Nevertheless, few would predicted the step up he would take during the following 12 months.



GT4 champion after epic finale


For the 2018 campaign Dontje moved to the GT4 European Series with Phoenix Racing, a team with serious credentials at the highest level of the sport. Despite this advantage, he was still a rookie jumping from a single-make cup to a hugely competitive championship that features grids of more than 40 cars from a wide variety of manufacturers.



Instant success would clearly be difficult to come by, but Dontje backed himself from the word go.



"I knew I could be quick and, when I spoke to Phoenix, our goal was to become champions," he says. "I had Nicolaj Moller Madsen alongside me and he already had quite a lot of experience. The team felt I could learn while also being quick and be on the podium at the beginning. Then, later in the season, maybe we could be winning.”



In fact, the #5 Phoenix Audi pairing won the season-opening race at Zolder and picked up further victories at Brands Hatch and Spa, establishing themselves as favourites for the title.



"The car really suited me; there's not really any aerodynamics on the GT4 and this is more natural for me," Dontje reflects. "It went quite well and after a while I was even quicker than Nicolaj, which was a surprise for the team. We just had a really good season – and some luck."


The "luck" Dontje refers to came at the season finale. Having won three times in the opening four events, the #5 crew could not match these results at the final two rounds. The title seemed to have slipped away, but a dramatic final race saw Dontje’s two main rivals fail to finish. The Phoenix Audi took fifth, placing all three crews level on points – but Dontje and Moller Madsen clinched the crown with more race wins. It was an almost unbelievable way in which to conclude the season.



 
"The racing in GT4 is really competitive,” says Dontje. “This is the main way that it prepared me for GT3. The car is also really similar. The difference is just in the aerodynamics, so I know the car and have an idea how it behaves. For me, this has all been really good preparation."




Making the step up to GT3



Having clinched the GT4 title the only way was up for Dontje, which meant a switch to GT3 racing. Initially he had planned to contest Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia with the Phoenix squad, but when that deal did not come to fruition he found a new home with Attempto Racing. As such, he has retained his links with Audi for a third season in as many different championships.



The Dutchman is currently contesting the Silver Cup class in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe alongside fellow rookie Mattia Drudi, and is also set to make his Total 24 Hours of Spa debut with Attempto later this month. Ahead of the trip to Zandvoort, the Dontje-Drudi pairing has taken two runner-up finishes from the opening rounds, placing them second in the Silver Cup standings. That is a good sign considering that Dontje does not believe he is fully at ease with his car yet.



"You really feel that you're at a higher level [with the GT3], which is difficult. It's a different beast. For me, it's important to have confidence with the car but at the moment I don't really have that feeling. When you don't have full confidence, it's tough to drive fast lap times."



This suggests that there is still plenty more to come from the Dutchman as he gets fully acquainted with the Audi R8 LMS GT3.
"Mattia is doing really, really well. We've had two overall top-10 finishes and been P2 twice in Silver Cup, so that's good. We're quick in the races, but the qualifying pace isn't there yet. I'm still happy with the progress and hopefully we can keep this up and get a few wins in Silver Cup.


“The goal is to be in the overall top-10 all the time and by the end of the season hopefully the top-five. But this will be difficult, because we are up against some of the best drivers in the world.”




Homecoming at Zandvoort



This weekend at Zandvoort, Dontje will be part of a capacity grid contesting the season's third double-header event. It marks the Dutch track's return to the calendar after a four-year absence – which is particularly convenient for local racer Dontje.



"The circuit is a half-hour away, 40 minutes max, so I'll be staying at home this weekend! I started my career there in testing, so for me it has a special feeling. I love the fans as well, so it's always a nice place to drive.”



For now at least, Zandvoort retains the kind of retro characteristics that are disappearing from European circuits. Like many of the drivers who will compete there this weekend, Dontje is a fan of the venue.



“It's an old-school track and it's really fast,” he says. "You have the quick corners like Slotermaker, then it's uphill and downhill, which I think will be incredible with the downforce in a GT3 car. Tarzan is another good one – there's lots of action and it's quite narrow.


“In general I really like the circuit because there are elevation changes, it's quite quick, and there are a few places where you can overtake. I think for the fans it's a good one to watch and for drivers it's great to drive because it's so fast.”
The event will take Dontje past the halfway point in his maiden season at the top level of GT racing. With his Spa debut on the horizon it promises to be a busy few weeks, but he’s making the most of the opportunity.



"I'm definitely enjoying what I do,” he concludes. “To be driving an Audi R8 at these tracks, I'm just really lucky to do all of this stuff.”




Adelheid Terryn- photo SRO

Permanent-URL: http://www.automobilsport.com/milan-dontje-new-kid-zandvoort-gt4-european-series---193977.html

12.07.2019 / MaP

More News

Black Falcon Zandvoort preview
11.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe Round 3, ZandvoortThe Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe holds the third round of the season at the Circuit Zandvoort on the Dutch North Sea coast this coming weekend (12 - 14 July). After finishing third and fourth at Misano two weeks ago, BLACK FALCON continues to lead the World Challenge Europe driver and tea more >>
ORANGE1 FFF Racing Team by ACM looking forward Dutch challenge
11.07.2019
This week-end ORANGE1 FFF Racing by ACM is ready for the third round of Blancpain GT Series World Challenge Europe in Zandvoort. The Dutch venue, now famous to host again the Formula 1 GP from 2020, is a typical spot for the GT sprint series, but at the same time represents the maiden appearance for the Chinese squad. more >>
Manuel Metzger holt Rennsieg bei Fuji-Premiere
09.07.2019
Manuel Metzger hat bei seiner Rennpremiere auf dem japanischen Fuji Speedway im Rahmen der Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia am vergangenen Wochenende (06./07. Juli) eines von zwei Rennen gewonnen. Am Fuße des berühmten Fuji-Vulkans teilte sich Metzger einen Mercedes-AMG GT3 des Solite Indigo Teams mit Roelof Bruins (Südkorea) und g more >>
Zandvoort GT4 European Series Entry List
09.07.2019
2019 GT4 European Series Zandvoort1 1 Phoenix Racing DEU Phoenix RacingCedric Freiburghaus CHE Silver Nicolaj Møller-Madsen DNK SilverAudi R8 LMS GT4 Silver Cup2 2 Leipert Motorsport DEU Leipert MotorsportLuc more >>
GT4 European Series enters final phase of 2019 season at Zandvoort
09.07.2019
After a one-year hiatus, the GT4 European Series returns to Zandvoort this weekend, as it enters the final phase of the 2019 season. In total no fewer than 31 will be on the grid at the popular Dutch circuit with its fast, sweeping corners. The race weekend at the North Sea coast is the fifth of the six race meetings on the 2019 GT4 European Series calendar. Mistake more >>
First victory this season in Japan for Audi
09.07.2019
The new evolution of the Audi R8 LMS has now also achieved its first win in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia. In the fourth event at Fuji, Japan, Audi Sport Asia Team Absolute demonstrated great fighting spirit twice. Weiron Tan from Malaysia shared an Audi more >>
Tech 1 Racing tackles GT sprints at Zandvoort
08.07.2019
Tech 1 Racing, entered for the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup since the beginning of the year, is preparing for its first taste of World Challenge Europe sprint racing at Zandvoort. The team from Toulouse is running Jack Hawksworth and Aurélien Panis in its Lexus RC F GT3 on the Dutch circuit.  more >>
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe title hopefuls set for crucial Zandvoort contest
08.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe will stage its third doubleheader event of the 2019 season next weekend (12-14 July) when Zandvoort makes a popular return to the calendar. Just two weeks after its trip to Italy for a pair of 60-minute race more >>
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customers continue with strong performances in Fuji
08.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific customers scored further Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia victories, with Panther/AAS Motorsport and ARN Racing in the Pro-Am class, as well as multiple podium finishes across the different categorie more >>
GT4 Asia: More silverware for Team Studie's BMW at Fuji Speedway
07.07.2019
BLANCPAIN GT WORLD CHALLENGE ASIA Fuji Speedway, JapanSunday, July 7th 2019BMW Team Studie’s Sunako Jukuchou and Takayuki Kinoshita made the most of Craft-Bamboo’s pitstop problem to increase their lead at the top of more >>
GT3 Asia: ABSOLUTE joy for Rump and Tan at Fuji Speedway
07.07.2019
BLANCPAIN GT WORLD CHALLENGE ASIA Fuji Speedway, JapanSunday, July 7th 2019Victory, by 0.742s, was long overdue for Weiron Tan and Martin Rump whose bad luck has been a factor of the season so far. A podium in yesterday’s race more >>
Last gasp pass sees Absolute's Tan and Rump claim Audi's first victory of the season at Fuji - results,standings
07.07.2019
BLANCPAIN GT WORLD CHALLENGE ASIA Fuji Speedway, JapanSunday, July 7th 2019- #12 Audi scores maximum points despite leading less than a lap- BMW Team Studie’s Jukuchou and Kinoshita win GT4 class- Result: Fuji Race more >>
GT4 at Fuji - Dream start for Pun
06.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge AsiaFuji SpeedwaySaturday, July 6th  2019 Craft-Bamboo returned to winning ways at Fuji where debutant David Pun and former champion Jean-Marc Merlin beat BMW Team Studie’s Sunako Jukuchou and Takayuki K more >>
GT3 - Indigo back on top at Fuji
06.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge AsiaFuji SpeedwaySaturday, July 6th  2019 The first of this weekend’s two 60-minute races in the shadow of Mount Fuji saw 2019’s top-three title protagonists going toe-to-toe along with a potential outsider. more >>
Choi's title ambitions back on track after victory with Metzger and Indigo at Fuji / results, standings
06.07.2019
- Korean team’s Mercedes-AMG holds off Rump/Tan’s Absolute Audi- Craft-Bamboo’s Merlin/Pun deny home favourites BMW Team Studie- Result: Fuji Race 1 more >>
FUJI Blancpain GT World Asia Qualifying 4 classifications
06.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge AsiaFuji International SpeedwaySaturday, July 6th 20191     88     GT3     Craft-Bamboo Racing     Jeffrey LEE, Alessio PICARIELLO   &nb more >>
FUJI Blancpain GT World Asia Qualifying 3 classification
06.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge AsiaFuji International SpeedwaySaturday, July 6th 20191     911     GT3     Absolute Racing     Tanart SATHIENTHIRAKUL, Philip HAMPRECHT   &nb more >>
Absolute Porsche and Craft-Bamboo Mercedes-AMG share qualifying spoils at Fuji
06.07.2019
- Pole apiece for Sathienthirakul and Picariello- Kinoshita and Jukuchou earn double GT4 pole for BMW Team Studie  Tanart Sathienthirakul and Alessio Picariello shared Blancpa more >>
Latest Suzuka 10 Hours entry list features 40 cars
04.07.2019
- Five additional GT3s confirmed for Japan’s biggest endurance race- 25 entries now nominated for Intercontinental GT Challenge Powered by Pirelli- Provi more >>
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific’s Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia customers go to Fuji as championship leaders
04.07.2019
Following a successful Suzuka round, several Porsche Motorsport Asia customers head to Fuji as championship and class leaders in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia. Expectations and spirits are high heading to the foothills of Mount Fuji after the P more >>
Fuji Speedway Blancpain GT Series Asia Entry List
02.07.2019
BLANCPAIN GT SERIES ASIA 2018BLANCPAIN GT WORLD CHALLENGE ASIA 2019ROUND 7 & 8 - FUJI SPEEDWAY- 6/7 JULY 8 ARN Racing ARN Racing JPN Hiroaki Nagai JPN JPN B Y more >>
Sathienthirakul and Hamprecht back on top as Fuji ushers in season's second half
02.07.2019
- Legendary Japanese venue attracts largest entry of the year- Absolute Racing’s Porsche leads home favourite Yuya Sakamoto- BMW Team Studie still out front in GT4Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia’s Japanese more >>
BLACK FALCON defends championship lead in Misano
02.07.2019
Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe – Race Round 2, MisanoBLACK FALCON achieved two top-5 results at the second Blancpain GT World Series Europe event in Misano. On Saturday the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Maro Engel (DE) and Luca Stolz (DE) crossed the finish line in th more >>
ORANGE1 FFF Racing Team by ACM scores maiden win in Misano
02.07.2019
Misano set an important goal in ORANGE1 FFF Racing Team by ACM, scoring its maiden win in its Europe campaign. Andrea Caldarelli and Marco Mapelli won an amazing race-1 under the sunset lights, with the Pescara-born driver who started third after a great qualifying, and manage p more >>
Seyler and Bachmann increase their lead in the AM Cup
01.07.2019
Although they were also slowed down by their Aston Martin Vantage #17 overheating, the young Luxembourg driver Clément Seyler and the Swiss Pascal Bachmann confirmed their leadership in the provisional AM Cup standings. On Saturday, they finished 17thoverall, just behind their team mates, while taking second place in the AM Cup. more >>
Street-Art Racing braves the Misano heat
01.07.2019
 Affecting a large part of Europe, the heat wave transformed the Misano circuit into a veritable oven on the last weekend of June. In these extreme conditions, the new Street-Art Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 experienced some teething problems during the fourth round of the GT4 European Series. more >>
Benjamin Lessennes: “Things can change very rapidly”
01.07.2019
Leaders of the GT4 European Series since the very first round, in Misano Benjamin Lessennes and Daniel McKay have lost all the advantage they gained from their good start to the season. In the heat of the Adriatic coast, the drivers of the Équipe Verschuur McLaren #14 had a disastrous weekend with a 10th place finish in the Silver Cup their only consolation. While the Zandvoort and N&uum more >>
R-Motorsport continue on upwards trajectory
01.07.2019
Ricky Collard and Marvin Kirchhöfer have posted the best result yet for R-Motorsport in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe. The duo produced a fourth-place finish at Misano in Italy, scoring points for the third time this season. Hugo de Sadeleer and Aaro Vainio made it a succes more >>
GT4 European Series: Three podiums for BMW drivers.
01.07.2019
The BMW M4 GT4 made three appearances on the podium at the fourth race weekend of this season’s GT4 European Series in Misano (ITA). In Saturday’s race, the #111 BMW M4 GT4 run by the RN Vision STS team crossed the finish line in second more >>
Qualifying trouble, pit-stop struggle make go down early Audi Sport Italia's hopes of Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe glory
01.07.2019
•   Italian GT mainstay faces steep learning curve in Misano facing BGTWCE regulars •   Kaffer/Fontana claim P16, P20 in twin races starting from unfavorable grid spots Since their 2009 GT3 debut race more >>
Podium results and class wins for Mercedes-AMG in Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe at Misano
30.06.2019
Customer Racing: Blancpain GT World Challenge EuropeThe series of success for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport also continues during the second race weekend of the season in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Europe: at Misano, Raffaele Marciello (ITA) and Vincent Abril (MON) for the AKKA ASP Team with second place overall and Luca Stolz and Maro Engel (both GER) f more >>
MISANO Blancpain GT Series race 2 classification
30.06.2019
1     2         Charles Weerts, Dries Vanthoor     Belgian Audi Club Team WRT     Audi R8 LMS GT3 2019     1:35.634     36     2     563     more >>
Weerts and Vanthoor clinch victory in second Misano contest
30.06.2019
....as Belgian Audi Club Team WRT returns to the top step•    Belgian Audi Club Team WRT returns to winning ways at Misano thanks to impressive young duo•    Weerts becomes youngest overall race winner in Blancpain GT Series history•    AKKA ASP wins again in Silver Cu more >>
Moller extends championship lead with third victory of 2019 Blancpain GT Sports Club campaign
30.06.2019
•    Stephen Earle takes fifth Iron Cup win of 2019 season•    Christian Hook claimed victory in the Titanium Cup, with second overall Reno Racing’s Jens Reno Moller scored his third Blancpain GT Sp more >>
Koebolt and Kisiel claim race win and points lead at Misano, Seyler win AM
30.06.2019
RACE 2 MISANO Classification here Jan Kisiel and Max Koebolt emerged victorious from a dramatic GT4 European Series race more >>
Blancpain GT Series Misano race 1 classification
29.06.2019
Race 1 / Misano / 2019 Results1     563         Andrea Caldarelli, Marco Mapelli     Orange 1 FFF Racing Team     Lamborghini Huracan GT3 2019     1: more >>
Caldarelli and Mapelli clinch home triumph for Lamborghini as Orange1 FFF Racing takes first European victory
29.06.2019
•    All-Italian duo triumphs on home turf with #563 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo•    Chinese outfit FFF Racing takes memorable first European win•    AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG on top in Silver Cup, AF Corse Ferrari takes Pro-Am, HB Racing Ferrari dominates Am Cup   more >>
First GT4 European Series victory of 2019 for Bullitt Racing
29.06.2019
Bullitt Racing has won the first race of the GT4 European Series weekend at the Misano World Circuit with its #66 Mercedes-AMG GT4. Romain Monti and Alex Lambertz won on their debut with the Spanish team in today's race. RN Vision STS was victorious in the Pro-Am class, with Selleslagh Racing Team clinching the Am class win at the Italian circuit.  more >>
Hook leads from start to finish to take first Blancpain GT Sports Club victory in Misano opener
29.06.2019
•    Stephen Earle comes through to win Iron Cup class•    Christian Hook also takes Titanium Cup victory ahead of Lee Mowle Rinaldi Racing’s Christian Hook stated his claim in the B more >>

Kategorien

STROOSSEN ENGLEN ASBL www.stroossenenglen.lu

2001-2019 automobilsport.com full copyright