Winners of the opening race: Luca Stolz und Maro Engel in a Mercedes-AMG fielded by Toksport WRT Photo: ADAC Motorsport
Winners of the opening race: Luca Stolz und Maro Engel in a Mercedes-AMG fielded by Toksport WRT Photo: ADAC Motorsport

Mercedes duo of Stolz and Engel win season opener

Toksport-Mercedes-AMG finish 0.7 seconds ahead of SSR Performance-Porsche

The 2020 ADAC GT Masters got off to a fast and furious start at the Lausitzring.

In a breathtaking race characterised by several changes in the lead, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo Luca Stolz (25, GER) and Maro Engel (34, Monte Carlo, both Toksport WRT) emerged victorious at the end of 43 thrilling laps. Only 0.7 seconds behind in second place were Porsche drivers Michael Ammermüller (34, GER) and Christian Engelhart (33, GER, both SSR Performance). The remaining place on the podium went to the Audi R8 LMS pairing of Max Hofer (21, AUT) and Christopher Haase (32, GER, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport). "I've finally got my first race win in the ADAC GT Masters," said a jubilant Maro Engel. "I'm delighted that it's worked out this time. What a great start to the new season!"

Action-packed first stint

The first half of the opening race at the Lausitzring was eventful. Porsche driver Alfred Renauer (35, GER, Precote Herberth Motorsport) started from fourth on the grid but immediately took the lead from pole-sitter Luca Stolz after making a strong start. Renauer then defended P1 against Stolz until Lap 8. However, as Stolz made a move to overtake in Turn 6, the Porsche and the Mercedes-AMG briefly made contact. Stolz took over at the front, but Renauer spun and dropped back. Stolz extended his lead to almost four seconds on the laps that followed. The field then bunched up again when the safety car came out following an incident in which Porsche driver Robert Renauer (35, GER, Precote Herberth Motorsport), who was in second place, was involved in a no-fault collision with Markus Pommer (29, GER, Callaway Competition), chasing hard in the Corvette. On the restart, Klaus Bachler (29, AUT, Küs Team75 Bernhard) overtook Stolz from P2 and defended his lead until he handed over to Simona De Silvestro.

During the round of pit stops, Stolz's partner Maro Engel regained the lead from De Silvestro and subsequently stayed in front. Things hotted up again in the closing stages. An engine misfire in the first turn allowed Christian Engelhart in hot pursuit in the Porsche to get close again, but Engel crossed the finish line with a lead of 0.7 seconds to secure a maiden win for himself and his team, Toksport WRT, in the ADAC GT Masters. For co-driver Stolz, it was his sixth.

De Silvestro and Bachler, on the other hand, lost their chance of a podium finish when their Porsche collided with the Audi of Kim-Luis Schramm (23, GER) and Christopher Mies (31, GER, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport). Third place went to the second of the two Montaplast by Land Motorsport R8 LMSs driven by Max Hofer (21, AUT) and Christopher Haase (32, GER).

In fourth place was another Porsche 911 GT3 with Jannes Fittje (21, GER) and David Jahn (29, GER, both Küs Team75 Bernhard) at the wheel. Fittje promptly won the Pirelli Junior classification on his ADAC GT Masters debut. Albert Costa Balboa (30, ESP) and Franck Perera (36, FR, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) were the best-placed drivers in a Lamborghini, finishing fifth. Not far behind them came last year's champions, Patric Niederhauser (28, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing) in an Audi, taking sixth place ahead of the Mercedes-AMG driven by Indy Dontje (27, NL) and Maximilian Götz (34, GER, both Mann-Filter-Team HTP-Winward).

Filip Salaquarda (36, CZ) and Frank Stippler (45, GER, both Team ISR) finished eighth. Salaquarda also won the Pirelli Trophy class. The Mercedes-AMG of Marvin Dienst (23, GER) and Philipp Frommenwiler (30, CH, both Schütz Motorsport) took ninth place ahead of Alfred Renauer and partner Sebastian Asch (34, GER), who just made it into the Top Ten despite their collision early in the race.

Comments from the winners:

Luca Stolz (Toksport WRT, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo): "The start was really chaotic. I lost a place to the Porsche, and I've no idea where he suddenly came from. Later on, I had a minor contact with the car. Actually, he must have seen me. After I retook the lead, I pulled out a bit of a gap before the safety car came out. The car worked really well with nothing ahead. But while I was following the safety car, I was getting a lot of pickup. That's why the Porsche was able to get past me at the restart."

Maro Engel (Toksport WRT, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo): "After I took over in the cockpit, I went flat out, because it was a very tight situation with Simona De Silvestro. Once I had taken the lead, I tried to steer the car to the finish line without making any unforced errors. But just before the end, I had another fright when the engine cut out. Fortunately, the fault corrected itself and I was able to bring home the victory."

2020 Season