A new team, but in a car, with which he was very familiar. 43-year-old Frank Stippler drove an Audi R8 LMS this season as he did last year, but this time, it was for Team ISR, contesting their first season in the Super Sports Car League. His wealth of experience enabled him to take a leading role in the Czech squad. By the end of the year, Stippler and team-mate Filip Salaquarda had secured five points-scoring finishes, including a lights-to-flag win from pole position at the Nürburgring, which was the high point of their season. The two of them were ultimately ranked ninth overall in the standings.
How did you expect to do in your first ADAC GT Masters season with Team ISR?
Frank Stippler: "I was generally optimistic about things, because I already knew the team from having worked with them for two years in the Blancpain GT Sprint and Endurance series. They were totally unfamiliar with any of the German circuits, and so, we had no data to rely on. I knew that there might be peaks in performance and some minor setbacks, but all in all, the season went very much as I'd imagined."
You returned to compete in the ADAC GT Masters last year, racing for BWT Mücke Motorsport. In what ways were you able to use that experience to benefit Team ISR?
"What I brought with me was my knowledge of the special requirements in the ADAC GT Masters regarding work out on track and setup. I also knew all about driving on cold tyres in qualifying, which the team still had to get used to. I had all this information and did my best to pass it on to Team ISR as quickly as possible."
The highlight of your season was, no doubt, the win at the Nürburgring, which was your first in the series since 2008 and the team's first ever - what did that success mean to you?
"Being able to win in the ADAC GT Masters with a new team ten years after my last victory and after being out of the country for many years has been, I have to say, a fantastic experience for me personally, but we've worked very hard for it. I must also say that it was, of course, a great start to Team ISR's maiden season. We were all absolutely delighted to have won a race in the ADAC GT Masters."
Still, do you see room for improvement?
"On a number of occasions, we were involved in collisions early on in races. That was bad because of the loss of points and may have prevented a good finish, but it was also a disadvantage for the second driver, who had to qualify on Sunday. It meant he was less well prepared for qualifying even though the quali is crucial for the outcome of the race weekend. The competition is so tough that it's practically impossible to overtake in the normal course of the race. If you don't qualify up front, then you have little chance of finishing in the points."
What do you see yourself doing in 2019?
"I would love to continue with Team ISR, but nothing has been decided yet. I can see myself doing something similar to what's happened in the last few years with the ADAC GT Masters and the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring plus racing in one or two stand-alone events."