With three wins in 2018: Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz Photo: ADAC GT Masters
With three wins in 2018: Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz Photo: ADAC GT Masters

Kirchhöfer: Jaminet and Renauer deserved champions

Very pleased with first season at Callaway in the Corvette

Marvin finished third in the ADAC GT Masters. In our interview, he reviews 2018 while revealing his thoughts about next season.

Marvin, you racked up the most wins in the 2018 ADAC GT Masters along with Daniel Keilwitz but just missed clinching the title at the Hockenheim season finale. How would you sum up your season?
Marvin Kirchhöfer: "I'm definitely pleased with the way it went. I took my maiden victory and first pole position in the ADAC GT Masters, which will always be very special. We wanted to make the title ours at Hockenheim, but to be honest, we didn't really deserve it despite taking three wins. There were just too many things that went wrong during the season with breakdowns, bad luck in races and crashes. So to be fair, we have to concede that Mathieu Jaminet and Robert Renauer did better. They drove very consistently throughout the year and were deserving winners. But still, we had some great races, and I'm not just talking about our three wins. For example, we did well on Sunday at Hockenheim, where after an unfortunate qualifying session, we started out from P27 on the grid yet still managed to move up to finish seventh. Those races also stand out in our minds and were a lot of fun. The standard in the ADAC GT Masters was incredibly high in 2018, so we had a strong year overall despite everything that happened."

Finishing out of the points seven times proved ultimately to be the decisive factor in not winning the title. Would you say so?
"Well, of course, it didn't help. We started the season out of the points at Oschersleben, were second twice at Most and then took the championship lead thanks to our two wins at the Red Bull Ring, which made our weekend just perfect. It's not often that you have a weekend like that, but then afterwards, unfortunately, we failed to score five times in a row, which caused us to drop behind again in the title fight. We simply didn't stand a chance at Zandvoort. Our car isn't like the other GT3 racers in that it's not an all-rounder, resulting in big variations in form. And then at the Nürburgring, we were just unlucky and crashed at an early stage."

How was your first season at Callaway Competition? Did you get on well with the team?
"I've got tremendous respect for them and their work. They always put the best car possible at our disposal, and we made the most of our opportunities at the circuits where we were really competitive - at Most and at the Red Bull Ring, for example. They are an excellent team and very professional. Working with them is simply the best."

Does driving for a team that develops its own cars and doesn't field customer racing cars make much difference?
"No, not really. It's not that different. The cars are homologated, so there's not much scope for development during the season. It might perhaps even be easier in some respects, because you don't have to go through the manufacturer or their customer support department and can short-circuit certain processes. However, as regards performance, development and set-up, things are the same by and large."

How did you get on with your team-mate, Daniel Keilwitz?
"Very well, thanks. I think we were both able to learn from each other. He's been with Callaway for quite a time and knows the Corvette really well, so I was immediately able to learn a couple of things from him. As my background is in single-seater racing, I had some different ideas of my own and ways of doing things, so we complemented each other really well. For example, looking at our results in qualifying, you can see that they were very similar."

Daniel is leaving Callaway after nine years. How do you think the team will get on without him?
"I think they'll cope well, because as I've already said, they're a very professional outfit. Besides, when Daniel had to miss a number of meetings with a broken leg in 2017, they still won races and took the title with Jules Gounon."

Last December, you competed with a different team in the 12-Hours of Abu Dhabi, driving the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 which will debut in the ADAC GT Masters this year, 2019. What have fans got to look forward to?
"The previous model Vantage was the oldest GT3 car still in use in Europe, so the latest version has seen some big changes. I really do think that it'll be competitive. We will, of course, have to wait and see, but they've certainly got a great car on their hands. I had to make a few adjustments to get used to the twin-turbo engine, as I've only ever driven GT3 cars with naturally aspirated motors before, but you don't really need to change your driving style. With a normal engine, you change gear by ear, but when it's got a turbo, you have to rely more on the gear-shift indicator lights, as there's less noise."

What are your plans for next season?
"I can't say for definite at the moment, as I'm still having one or two discussions, but if I'm going to race in the ADAC GT Masters again, then my clear favourite has to be Callaway Competition, for sure! I've felt really at ease with them this year. They're an excellent team and very successful."

2019 Season