BMW factory driver Philipp Eng in a BMW M6 GT3 entered by BMW Team Schnitzer is currently placed second in the ADAC GT Masters. With two race weekends in the Super Sports Car League still to go, the Austrian plans to pile on the pressure in the battle for the title. The season concludes with back-to-back events at the Sachsenring (15th - 17th September) and at Hockenheim (22nd - 24th September).
How do you rate your opponents in the title fight? Is current championship leader Jules Gounon in his Corvette the only threat?
Philipp Eng: "On paper, he is clearly the most favourably placed. Callaway Competition have obviously won various championships over the years. They have a psychological advantage and a cushion in terms of points. But we also need to keep an eye on the competition from Audi. The situation behind us is looking pretty tight. For me, though, there is only one direction to look in, and that's ahead to Jules Gounon. I hope we can beat him."
The final two races of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters follow within the short space of a week. Does this make preparation more difficult?
"I'd be quite happy if every weekend were a race weekend - that's not a problem for me. It all depends on how things go at the Sachsenring and whether it would be preferable to have more time before the next race. On the other hand, we'll know the outcome of the championship much sooner. I hope that we are in good enough shape at the Sachsenring to reduce the gap to the Corvette and to have a say in the final destination of the title at the Hockenheimring."
How would you sum up your season in the ADAC GT Masters so far?
"In absolutely positive terms - otherwise we wouldn't be in second place now. It could have been better, though, because there were races where we scored too few points or didn't make the most of our opportunities. But hey, that's motor racing."
What have been the high and low points of the campaign?
"The highlight was our victory on the opening weekend at Oschersleben - that came as quite a surprise. Another highlight was the podium in our home race at the Red Bull Ring. And also the hard-fought podium at the Nürburgring, which really helped our cause in the championship. One of the low points came in the second race at Zandvoort where we simply failed to fulfil our potential in qualifying and then had to battle our way forward from the back of the field. The way it turned out wasn't ideal, but you can't apportion blame to anyone for that. In qualifying, we put ourselves in a position that we should never have been in. And at the Lausitzring, we also came away with zero points. I think that we put in a strong performance at the Nürburgring. Maybe not necessarily with the result in the first race, but we can certainly be satisfied with what we achieved in the second. We managed to narrow the points gap on the Corvette."
How well have BMW Team Schnitzer done in their debut ADAC GT Masters season?
"Very well, in fact. It's apparent that the team has spent the last few years competing in the DTM which, with the exception of Formula 1 and the WEC, represents the highest level of the sport. They have gained a lot of experience in the process. You can sense the passion they bring to the job. Despite the short preparation time, Schnitzer have acquitted themselves very well. We actually had only the test at Oschersleben to find our feet, so we can feel satisfied with what we've achieved. And there is no low-hanging fruit in the ADAC GT Masters. You should never underestimate this series, no matter what your pedigree."
Who will be your co-driver on the final weekends?
"It will continue to be Nicky Catsburg. BMW Motorsport have given me an excellent partner in him. Obviously, I want to win the championship - with my co-driver and with BMW Team Schnitzer. It would be a magnificent achievement for Schnitzer to win another drivers' championship after taking the DTM title in 2012. But it won't be easy, because we have a 38-point gap to close. On the other hand, we've seen how quickly fortunes can change. In the ADAC GT Masters, it's never over till it's over."
Tickets for the ADAC GT Masters race weekends can be purchased online at www.adac.de/motorsport.