Porsche driver Michael Ammermüller never imagined that he and his new team would be mixing it with the front-runners at such an early stage Photo: ADAC GT Masters
Porsche driver Michael Ammermüller never imagined that he and his new team would be mixing it with the front-runners at such an early stage Photo: ADAC GT Masters

Michael Ammermüller: I hope it carries on this way

Porsche man pleasantly surprised by strong start to the season

In this interview, Michael Ammermüller talks about the factors that have contributed to the early success of his new team, SSR Performance.

One victory, one second place and one pole position - the two race weekends at the Lausitzring and the Nürburgring could hardly have gone better for the Bavarian, his team-mate Christian Engelhart and their SSR Performance team. With four of the 14 races now behind them, the driver pairing are second in the drivers' championship. The Munich-based outfit is contesting its first full season in the Super Sports Car League after testing the waters in 2019.

Are you surprised that things are going so well?
Michael Ammermüller:
"I don't think anybody on our team expected such an excellent start to the season. We have prepared as thoroughly as possible, because we know just how tough it is to achieve anything worthwhile in what is the probably most demanding series for GT3 sports cars. But to see us up there among the front-runners at such an early stage certainly came as a surprise."

At the Nürburgring, you booked your first pole position and chalked up a maiden win for SSR Performance. Had you been expecting this to happen quite so soon?
"After the season opener at the Lausitzring where we were in touching distance of pole and we finished the first race in P2 only 0.7 seconds behind the winner, we knew that we could be challenging for pole quite soon. So it was all the more gratifying that we then managed it at the Nürburgring."

What are the strengths of the SSR Performance team?
"It's a result of hard work. But I might add that it's essentially down to a successful combination. It starts with my team-mate Christian Engelhart, who is not only one of the fastest GT3 drivers out there but can also be relied to get the car to the finish line without making any mistakes. Our team boss Wolfgang Hatz contributes his extensive background in motorsport and has put together an effective team from the mechanics of SSR Performance and the experienced specialists of Manthey. A further boost of motivation comes from the enthusiasm of SSR Performance Managing Director Stefan Schlund, who approached the ADAC GT Masters project in an extremely professional manner from the very beginning."

What are the key factors behind any successful campaign in the ADAC GT Masters?
"The ADAC GT Masters is a team sport, which means that both drivers have to be in complete harmony, the team has to be in tune with each other, and last but not least the car - in our case the SSR-Porsche 911 GT3 R - has to be competitive. All of that applies in our case."

Was the long winter break and the late start to the season an advantage or a disadvantage for a new team such as SSR Performance?
"The preparation time was certainly longer, and as newcomers we were able to benefit from that. On the other hand, we felt the same way as most of the ADAC GT Masters teams - we just wanted to finally get going."

You have a reputation for being a Porsche specialist and have already enjoyed a lot of success with the 911. What makes the car so special for you?
"I simply like the Porsche 911 GT3 R - it has reached an advanced stage of development, and you can feel the years of experience of Porsche engineers and technicians in this car."

Your team-mate Christian Engelhart has chalked up no fewer than 13 ADAC GT Masters victories, which makes him the second-most successful driver in the history of the series. How important is his experience for the team?
"That obviously plays an important role. Christian is not only experienced, but also incredibly fast. He knows that even the best qualifying result is of no value unless the car is brought safely across the finish line, and that over the course of a full season the lowest possible error rate is one of the decisive factors in finishing right at the top."

The first time you competed in the ADAC GT Masters was back in 2010. In what ways has the series developed since then?
"For some years now, the development has been going steadily upwards, which is mainly due to the professionalism of the people at ADAC Motorsport. The mix of pro drivers, high-calibre amateurs and professionally organised teams ensures exciting motorsport that is also affordable."

After such a strong start to the season, what are your hopes for the remaining races?
"Quite simply that it carries on in this way. In any case, we will do everything we can to make sure that happens."

This year, the season goes on well into autumn, so it could rain a lot on the later race weekends. Does that play into your hands? After all, the Porsche is considered a good car in the rain because of its rear engine.
"Certainly. We have good traction in the wet with the 911, and I think that both Christian and I are capable of handling it well."

Looking ahead to the upcoming race weekends, which tracks should suit you best?
"I'm not worried about that. It's a question of attitude - you have to like all tracks if you're going to be fast everywhere. And our SSR Porsche 911 GT3 R has excellent all-round qualities, which makes us good everywhere!"

2020 Season