Lining up in the ADAC GT Masters for the first time: the Ferrari 488 GT3 Photo: ADAC GT Masters
Lining up in the ADAC GT Masters for the first time: the Ferrari 488 GT3 Photo: ADAC GT Masters

Luca Ludwig: We got the maximum out of the car

Former champion looks back on his first ADAC GT Masters season in a Ferrari

The 2018 season was Luca Ludwig's first in the Ferrari 488 GT3 entered by HB Racing. The 2015 ADAC GT Masters champion reflects on the campaign.

After four years at Zakspeed, Ludwig felt it was time to move on to pastures new. The 30-year-old former champion from Bonn went into the new season not only as a member of a new team, HB Racing of Austria, but also driving a different make of car. It was the first time he had competed in a Ferrari 488 GT3, which was in any case making its own debut in the Super Sports Car League. Initially, things went very well, with a podium finish in the season opener at Oschersleben. In the second fixture of 2018 at Most in the Czech Republic, Ludwig narrowly missed out on the podium in fourth. The Red Bull Ring weekend also got off to an encouraging start, with P2 in qualifying. Unfortunately, a puncture at the end of the first lap forced him to retire from the race. There were further setbacks towards the middle of the season, and it was not until the final event on the calendar at Hockenheim that the Ferrari at last made it into the points in both races.

In most of the races during the season, Ludwig shared the cockpit of the 488 GT3 with ADAC GT Masters returnee Dominik Schwager, who had to miss out on the Red Bull Ring due to injury. His replacement was Alfred Renauer. For the last two races, Ludwig was partnered by Ferrari works driver Davide Rigon. "That was a very important step in taking stock on where we were with the car," says Ludwig. "Davide is a very fast driver who has a comprehensive understanding of the 488 GT3. The fact that even a driver of his calibre was unable to get the car into the Top Five shows that it wasn't the fault of either the drivers or the team that we failed to make it onto the podium after that first weekend."

Adjusting to his new environment at HB Racing did not cause Ludwig any difficulties: "We were up there on the podium at the end of our first race, and that really forges a bond. That's why there was such strong team spirit right from the word go. Even though the season didn't match up to our expectations, the team did a great job and got the maximum out of the car." Ludwig also had a lot of fun driving the Ferrari: "Like most GT3 cars, the Ferrari is very good-natured and easy to drive." It therefore wasn't so much a new challenge, but it was still something special, because the scarlet-red Italian is a rarity in this particular race series. "That's why we were the focus of attention among the fans and the media, especially at the beginning of the season. And many of our opponents saw us as a real threat."

Ludwig's plans for 2019 are still up in the air: "I would prefer a long-term partnership with HB Racing. Consequently, staying put would be the most sensible way forward for driver and team. Even so, there are other options that need to be considered. The benchmark here is always the potential competitiveness of the overall package."

2019 Season