Diego Alessi (41) and Daniel Keilwitz (24) are the ADAC GT Masters champions for 2013. In an action-packed final weekend at Hockenheim watched by 21,200 spectators in total, the Corvette duo of Alessi and Keilwitz finished sixth on Sunday, which was enough to secure the 2013 title. Their closest pursuers, Maximilian Buhk (20) and Maximilian Götz (27), had to park their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 before the end of the race due to a technical fault. "We've done it at last," said an emotional Keilwitz, after watching his partner bring the car home in P6. Victory in the last race of the season went to Frank Kechele (27) from Ulm and Dominik Schwager (37) from Munich in a Lambda Performance Ford GT. Sunday's win made it two back-to-back victories over the weekend. Joining them on the podium were the drivers of two Prosperia C Abt Racing Audi R8s - Christopher Mies (24) and René Rast (26) in second place, and Christer Jöns (26) and Markus Winkelhock (32) in third. Those two Top Three finishes were instrumental in securing the 2013 team championship title for Prosperia C Abt Racing.
Keilwitz mounts furious pursuit in first stint
The final race of the 2013 ADAC GT Masters season got off to a dramatic start for the new champions Alessi and Keilwitz. As Keilwitz reached the hairpin bend, he got spun around by Simon Knap's DB Motorsport BMW Z4, relegating him to the back of the field. Keilwitz responded by mounting a furious pursuit, battling his way up from last place back into the Top Ten. Early developments seemed to favour the cause of Götz and Buhk, with Buhk in second place behind pole-setter Jeroen Bleekemolen (31, NL) in a Callaway Competition Corvette. But on Lap 14, events took an unexpected turn with major implications for the title, as Buhk was forced to park his Mercedes-Benz next to the track after sustaining engine damage. From this point on, Keilwitz and Alessi only needed to bring their Corvette home in one piece. Under the watchful gaze of Dr Thomas Sedran, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet and Cadillac Europe, Alessi was careful to avoid any risk in the second stint as he finished sixth and secured the title.
"After getting spun round on the first corner, I almost gave up there and then," said Keilwitz. "But I couldn't believe that we were going to let our title chances slip away in such a fashion, and I went back on the offensive. I had good race pace, and the other drivers were very fair, not trying to block me on my pursuit. It was high time that we won this title. There's no way I could have let us lose it once again in the very last race."
After crossing the finish line, Alessi was at a loss for words: "I'm absolutely speechless, and I can't believe what just happened. I've seen a lot of things in my career as a driver, so when I saw Daniel spun around on the first lap, I was resigned to losing and convinced that, once again, it wasn't to be our year. But the motor racing deities seem to have had a change of heart. After Daniel embarked on that amazing pursuit, my hopes were restored. Then, after that stroke of bad luck for the Mercedes-Benz, we were able ease up a little."
Meanwhile, Bleekemolen had controlled the first half of the race, but after the driver changeover, his Swiss colleague Toni Seiler (55) came under heavy pressure from Kechele's Ford. Kechele managed to prise the lead from Seiler's grasp on Lap 22. Yet the race victory was far from assured, with two Audis rapidly gaining ground in his rear-view mirror. However, the threat from the R8s receded on the last few laps, allowing Kechele to finish the season on a perfect note. By a 1.3-second margin, Kechele posted a second win of the weekend ahead of Mies/Rast and Jöns/Winkelhock. The second-place finish for Rast and Mies clinched the team title for Prosperia C Abt Racing led by former ADAC GT Masters champion Christian Abt.
"A perfect finish to a variable season," said a jubilant Kechele after his third ADAC GT Masters win of 2013. "We've had our ups and downs this year, and we certainly had to work a lot harder for today's win than for yesterday's. Dominik had a comfortable lead on the first few laps. We weren't the fastest today, but we were the most consistent."
Robert Renauer, who was still in with a chance of taking the title in the finale, finished fourth in his Porsche 911 and takes the runner-up trophy in the 2013 ADAC GT Masters. Claudia Hürtgen (42) and Dominik Baumann (20) were forced to retire their PIXUM Team Schubert BMW Z4 following a collision between Hürtgen and Seiler in the final phase of the race, thereby ruling themselves out of contention. Sebastian Asch (27) and Florian Stoll (32) finished fifth in their Audi R8, posting the best result of the season for MS RACING, the winners of the 2012 team championship. Daniel Dobitsch (29) and Aditya Patel (25) in the second MS RACING Audi crossed the line in seventh place. David Jahn (22) from nearby Speyer contesting his home race with co-driver Jürg Aeberhard (27) from Switzerland came eighth in a Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911.
Nielsen basks in glory of Gentlemen title with another win
Having already wrapped up the Gentlemen championship the day before, Christian Nielsen (21) of Denmark was determined not to miss out on Sunday's champagne shower. Together with Farnbacher Racing team-mate Kuba Giermaziak, the Porsche driver posted a fifth victory of the campaign in the amateur stakes. René Bourdeaux (38) driving a Tonino powered by Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 finished the season as runner-up. In third place overall was Corvette driver Remo Lips (31) from Switzerland, who had been ably supported throughout 2013 by ADAC Sports Foundation protégé Lennart Marioneck (24).