There is a brand new name in the motorsport world – GMB Motorsport.
The team is only a few months old, but has big ambitions regarding the upcoming 2022 season, with an all-Danish driver line-up.
They have a total of six cars entered in various Danish championships this year, as well as three cars in the Michelin Le Mans Cup.
Their first outing will be this week at the opening round of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, which is being held at Circuit Paul Ricard, in the south of France.
The founder of the team is Rene Birch, who has a huge passion for motorsport. His son, Gustav Birch is a part of the driving crew, but Rene has supported other projects within the sport, over the part few years.
“The decision about starting GMB was taken early October last year. So it had all happened very quickly, since the decision about participating in the Michelin Le Mans Cup was taken only late February – actually on the very final day, where the entries were closed. We had many thoughts about it, in the weeks prior, since the original plan actually was only to test – do a couple of selected races during the season, before making a decision about where a full 2023 season would be. But yes – we made a late decision about being a part of this, and then doing it with three cars. So a lot of things happened in just a few days, and I have to be honest, that we have been super busy since that decision was made!” team principal Casper Elgaard reveals.
So it’s only natural that Gustav is an important part of the team. He will be on double duty, racing a Honda Civic TCR in the TCR Denmark championship, and piloting a Honda NSX GT3 in the Michelin Le Mans Cup. He’s already got two years of GT experience from driving a Porsche 911 in Denmark, while the 2021 season was on board a Peugeot 308 TCR for another team, where he was teammates with Casper Elgaard, who is the newly appointed team principal of GMB Motorsport. Gustav raced in both TCR Denmark, and couple of guest appearances in TCR Europe at Monza and Zandvoort during the 2021 season. The two seasons of driving a Porsche, was with the team of Mikkel Overgaard Pedersen – more about him later.
18 year old Gustav will be sharing car #44 in the LMC with 51 year old Jens Møller. Møller previously raced in the Danish Touringcar Championship, but got an early taste of the international scene with Lister Storm at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2004 and 2006, where he teamed up with Casper Elgaard and John Nielsen in the first year, and with former F1 driver Nicolas Kiesa and Gavin Pickering in the second year. Møller, Nielsen and Elgaard were also teammates in the touringcar series, so another chapter will be added to that partnership, with Elgaard being in charge of GMB Motorsport.
Møller took some years out of the sport, but made a return in the Mitjet Supertourisme series in Denmark in 2016, before he took up his international ambitions once again, running a Honda Civic TCR in 2017 and 2018 in TCR International and TCR Europe respectively. And then he acquired a Honda NSX GT3 for the Blancpain series, now known as GT World Challenge Europe. He also entered the 2019 FIA World Games for Denmark, where he drove the NSX GT3 alongside Christina Nielsen.
It must be an advantage, having Jens Møller in the team, and with his experience with the Honda brand?
“Of course – but the decision for GMB to drive a Honda was taken prior to Jens being part of the team,” Elgaard explains. I know JAS, and have worked together with JAS Motorsport in the past, and have always had a good relationship with them. And after several talks with them, and their willingness to support our project, and the way they want to help us, is something that we are looking for in a partner. We also drive Hondas in Denmark (TCR Denmark, editor), so it made a lot of sense to have the same partner on both projects. “
Kasper Herold Jensen and Kristian Poulsen will pair up in car #55. Kasper H., as he is known in Denmark, started out in karting, but moved into tin tops for the 2012 season, starting out in the VW Scirocco R-Cup in Germany, where he raced for two seasons, and ended up bring the vice-champion in 2013 behind Kelvin van der Linde. He returned to race in his home country for the 2014 season, where he instantly claimed the Legend Cup Championship title. Danish Thundersport Championship was the next step on the ladder, and what a step that was. He claimed the Championship title in 2016, 2018 and 2019, before he moved into the TCR Denmark series – and winning both the 2020 and 2021 titles there. He has a bit of international GT racing as well, with some Creventic 24 Hours races, and some VLN outings. He worked together with Casper Elgaard for several of those championship titles, with Elgaard having the role of team principal there as well. Other than the LMC outings this year, the goal for the 31-year-old Kasper H. is to defend the TCR Denmark title.
46-year-old Kristian Poulsen has a rally background, but his biggest successes have come in closed-circuit racing. He started that in the mid-2000s in the Danish Touringcar Championship, before moving into the World Touring Car Championship, where he ended up winning the title for Privateers in 2011. He moved into the FIA WEC with Aston Martin Racing from 2012-2014, with the biggest success being the final season, which included the win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the GTE Am Championship title, with Nicki Thiim and David Heinemeier Hansson. He did another season with Larbre Competition in 2015, before moving his focus back on the rally sport.
His first taste of sportscars, however, was back in 2009, where he drove for Team Essex in their Porsche RS Spyder. He won the LMP2 category at the 24 Hours of Le Mans alongside Casper Elgaard and Emmanuel Collard. And now he feels the time is right for some more circuit racing. By the way, there was that Elgaard name again.
The third car will be driven by Mikkel Overgaard Pedersen and Lars Engelbrekt Pedersen (both aren’t related). Mikkel O. has driven Porsche cars since he turned 14 – first, in the Special Saloon Car championship in Denmark, before moving into Porsche Carrera Cup Scandinavia. He was selected for the Porsche Young Driver shootout in 2015, where Norwegian Dennis Olsen ended up taking that honour. Mikkel O. raced in the Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup full time from 2016 until 2019, and then moved into GT World Challenge Europe, racing for Dinamic Motorsport with their Porsche 911 GT3-R. The 24 year old driver got a ride with Team Project 1 Porsche #46 for the 2022 FIA World Endurance Championship, which includes his biggest personal goal – the 24 Hours of Le Mans. So driving a Honda NSX GT3 in the LMC for GMB Motorsport, will be something totally different.
Lars Engelbrekt Pedersen already has a connection to Mikkel O. Mikkel was the Driver Coach for Lars, while Mikkel’s father, Kim, has serviced various Porsche 911 race cars for Lars. The most prominent 911 of them all is an ex-Frikadelli Racing car, which he bought and entered in the 2021 championship in Denmark
And there is one common thread through the whole of this programme, and it’s the team principal Casper Elgaard, who at some point in his own racing career has raced with or against four of the six drivers in this Michelin Le Mans Cup project.
GMB Motorsport stated early on, that their goal would be Le Mans 2024 – well, the big 24-hour race. The team will already be making a tour to Le Mans this year, since the two Road To Le Mans races, which is a part of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, run as support races for the French classic in June.
Car #44 is an old car, which Jens Møller raced with in his own team, for the past two years. Car #55 is brand new car, and car #88 right now is borrowed from JAS Motorsport, with a brand new car scheduled for arrival prior to Le Mans.
There is a good reason for the team to enter the GT3 scene now. ACO has announced that some GT3 based car will be the future at Le Mans in the GT category, with the current GTE cars being phased out. So it’s important for the team to gain valuable experience about the cars, and the competition, so everybody is ready for the big, prestigious race. But it’s a tough battle for the entries, with pretty much nobody receiving an entry at their very first year of racing. So you have to show that you deserve a chance on the big scene
The Michelin Le Mans Cup has the big carrot dangling for the GT3 champions, in the shape of an auto-invite for the 24-hour race, for the following season. GMB Motorsport has four other contestants, who have exactly the same aim for the 2022 season.
We asked team principal Elgaard about their goals for 2022, despite the late decision. Do they still want to make it a learning year prior to 2023, or?
“Yes, and no. Yes when I’m sitting far away from here, and being – how to phrase it – reasonable in the goals we have to reach. And no, when I’m here. The whole team is full of competitive guys. We have six good drivers. So when we are here – I’m not satisfied about just being here – we are here to compete for the podium spots. We want to fight at the top, but having said that, we shouldn’t forget that we are new in this game, and we all have to learn, and that we can work together since we are big team that has to gel, and work together as well.
“We are happy to be here – I’ve been dealing with ACO in the past, both as a driver and team manager (the latter for Massive Motorsport in ELMS 2015, editor), and had a good collaboration with ACO, and I’m looking forward to having that once again, and hopefully be part of the ACO family for many years to come.”
The Michelin Le Mans Cup will run over six race weekends, with the season starting this week in France, followed by Imola in May, Le Mans in June, Monza in July, Spa Francorchamps in September, and Portimao in October.