The Audi pairing of Ricardo Feller (19, CH) and Dries Vanthoor (21, BEL, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) put in a superb performance to pull off a maiden ADAC GT Masters victory in Sunday's race at Zandvoort, crossing the line just ahead of their team-mates Max Hofer (20, AUT) and Christopher Mies (30, GER). Partnered by Philip Ellis (26, GB) in a Mercedes-AMG, series newcomer Fabian Vettel (20, GER, Mann-Filter Team HTP), the brother of four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, made his first podium appearance in the Super Sports Car League. "Mega!" said race winner Feller. "I've had a three-year wait to get onto the top rung of the podium. To have accomplished this at long last is an amazing feeling. I'm just incredibly happy."
Christopher Mies retains lead up to pit stop
Pole-sitter Christopher Mies set the pace up front during the first stint of the race. The 30-year-old driver asserted his lead at the start ahead of team-mate Dries Vanthoor and third-placed Philip Ellis in the Mercedes-AMG. Mies remained ahead on the laps that followed but was unable to pull away from his pursuers. The Top Three were covered by just 1.8 seconds when the Audi Sport driver came in for his mandatory pit stop on Lap 17 and handed over to partner Max Hofer. Vanthoor and Ellis stayed out for two further laps after Mies before making their respective stops. It was a decision that paid off, as their co-drivers, Ricardo Feller and Fabian Vettel, subsequently emerged ahead Hofer, dropping him down to third place.
Posting one hot lap after another, Feller extended his lead to as much as 3.5 seconds at times. Vettel meanwhile found himself coming under pressure from Hofer. With ten laps to go, Hofer passed the 'Mamba' yellow Mercedes-AMG driven by Vettel to take second place. He was able to reduce the deficit on his team-mate over the ensuing laps, but it was ultimately not enough to challenge for the win. Feller was the first to take the chequered flag by a winning margin of 2.4 seconds. As a result, he secured maiden victories in the ADAC GT Masters for himself and Vanthoor, who had driven the first stint. 19 year-old Feller also won the Pirelli Junior classification for drivers under the age of 25.
By finishing runners-up, Mies and Hofer ensured a one-two win for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport. Third place went to Philip Ellis and Fabian Vettel. On only his eighth ADAC GT Masters outing, rookie Vettel made it onto the overall podium for the first time.
Fourth place went to Rolf Ineichen (41, CH), who again won the Pirelli Trophy classification, and Franck Perera (34, FRA, both Orange1 by GRT Grasser) in the best-placed Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo. With P5, Luca Stolz (24, GER) and Maro Engel (33, Monte Carlo) secured a Top Five result for Toksport WRT on their very first outing in the series after having to retire with damaged power steering the day before. Saturday's winners, Christian Engelhart (32, GER) and Mirko Bortolotti (29, ITA), came home just 0.2 seconds behind, taking sixth place ahead of their Orange1 by GRT Grasser team-mates, Michele Beretta (24, ITA) and Marco Mapelli (32, ITA).
P8 and P9 went to two more of the Audi R8 LMS contingent. Mike David Ortmann (19, GER) and Markus Winkelhock (38, GER, both BWT Mücke Motorsport) beat championship leaders Patric Niederhauser (27, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (23, ZA, both HCB-Rutronik Racing). However, these points were enough for the latter to marginally increase their lead in the overall standings, as their closest rivals, the Corvette pairing of Markus Pommer (28, GER) and Marvin Kirchhöfer (25, CH, both Callaway Competition), could only finish 20th after being handed a drive-through penalty for a pit stop that was cut too short.
The Porsche duo of Timo Bernhard (38, GER) and Klaus Bachler (27, AUT, both Küs Team75 Bernhard) completed the Top Ten in Sunday's race.
Comments from the winners:
Ricardo Feller (Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): "Early on, I pushed as hard as I could to open up a gap. After that, I tried to go easy on the tyres. Max was getting a bit closer towards the end, but by that time, he had also used up his tyres. Everything was great today. The only fright came after the finish when I noticed that the front right tyre was losing air, but by then, of course, it didn't matter."
Dries Vanthoor (Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): "The ADAC GT Masters is one of the world's most keenly contested championships, so to win a race here is really something. The positions stayed the same at the start, but later on in the stint, I was a bit faster than the race leader, Christopher Mies, which is why I stayed out two laps longer. That was the key to our victory."