The title chase has reached a conclusion with one race still to come. Jules Gounon (22, FRA, Callaway Competition) is the 2017 ADAC GT Masters champion. Ably assisted by co driver Daniel Keilwitz (28, DEU), the Corvette man won the first of two races on the final weekend of the season at Hockenheim to claim his first Super Sports Car League title. Defending champions Connor De Phillippi (24, USA) and Christopher Mies (28, DEU, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport) took second place ahead of Mercedes-AMG duo Luca Stolz (22, DEU) and Luca Ludwig (28, DEU, both Team Zakspeed). "I am ecstatic about winning this title," said a jubilant Gounon. "It's unbelievable that we've done it. My thanks to the whole Callaway team. Without them, this success would not have been possible."
Gounon and Keilwitz take comfortable lead
Pole-sitter Jules Gounon and partner Daniel Keilwitz put in a solid performance as they secured a lights-to-flag victory. Gounon in the Corvette defended P1 at the start and pulled out a lead of almost two seconds at times before the mandatory pit stop. Following the change of drivers, his German partner clinched the win at the finish line after extending the comfort zone to almost five seconds at times. This was Gounon's third win of the season and the second for team-mate Keilwitz, who has had to miss three races because of a broken leg. Victory has brought Gounon his first ADAC GT Masters title in advance of the end of the season, as the 22-year-old has a 40-point lead in the standings, which means that he cannot now be overtaken in Sunday's final race. For Gounon's team, Callaway Competition, this is their second driver's title in the ADAC GT Masters since last winning in 2013. Apart from clinching the overall title, the Frenchman has also won the 2017 Junior class (for drivers aged under 25) with one more race to come.
Exciting battles between cars in pursuit lower down the field
The Audi pairing of De Phillippi and Mies in second place missed out on the race win by just 0.834 seconds. Last year's champions fought their way up from P4 on the grid to make it onto the podium. With a spectacular overtaking move at the entrance to the Motodrom, Mies consigned to third place the Mercedes-AMG of Stolz and Ludwig which had started from the front row, thereby keeping alive Montaplast by Land-Motorsport's chances of successfully defending their team title. The outfit, managed by Wolfgang Land and for whom De Phillippi and Mies drive, has a 15-point deficit on Callaway Competition.
Porsche drivers Mathieu Jaminet (22, FRA) and Michael Ammermüller (31, DEU, both KÜS Team75 Bernhard) took fourth place from Trophy winner Rolf Ineichen (39, CH) and Christian Engelhart (30, DEU, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) in the best-placed Lamborghini Huracán.
Positions six, seven and eight were firmly in the grip of Audi. Filip Salaquarda (33, CZ) and Markus Winkelhock (37, DEU, both BWT Mücke Motorsport) took sixth place from fellow Audi drivers Markus Pommer (26, DEU) and Kelvin van der Linde (21, ZA, both Aust Motorsport) and from Jeffrey Schmidt (23, CH) and Christopher Haase (29, DEU, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport).
Nicolai Sylvest (20, DK) and Nikolaj Rogivue (21, CH, both Team Zakspeed) in P9 secured two championship points for their Mercedes-AMG. The final point went to the Corvette pairing of Sven Barth (36, DEU) and Maximilian Hackländer (27, DEU, both RWT Racing), who mounted a strong charge up the field from 17th on the grid.
Another competition decided ahead of time was the Trophy class for amateur drivers, with Nissan man Remo Lips (34, CH, MRS GT-Racing) clinching the title. Although the Swiss 34-year-old was forced to retire after a no-fault collision on Lap 1, which required a restart to the race, main title rival Barth could only manage to finish second in class, thus paving the way for Lips to retain his title from the previous campaign.
Comments from the winners
Jules Gounon (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R): "Following the previous races at the Sachsenring, this was never going to be easy. After that difficult weekend, we had lost some self-confidence. I tried to build a lead in my stint to give Daniel the best basis for his own. When Daniel was in the car, I was not at all nervous. He simply never makes any mistakes. The Corvette is fantastic, and the whole team has worked incredibly hard."
Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R): "Towards the end, I had to be vigilant, because the rear tyres were pretty much worn out. But we knew that beforehand, so we tried to build a lead in the first half of the race. It was difficult maintaining the pace, but the lead was ultimately enough. It is wonderful for the team and for Jules to have taken the title. And it's also good for me to come back with a win."