From 24th to the podium: Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli Photo: ADAC GT Masters
From 24th to the podium: Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli Photo: ADAC GT Masters

News from the ADAC GT Masters races at Spielberg

Notes from the Red Bull Ring

The Austrian fixture on the 2018 ADAC GT Masters calendar generated several interesting anecdotes. This is what we jotted down in our notebook.

Double winners: Callaway drivers Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz won both the Saturday and the Sunday race at the Red Bull Ring. It was the first time since the grand finale to the 2014 season at Hockenheim that a single driver pairing achieved the same feat in the Super Sports Car League. It was also the 18th time in the 84 ADAC GT Masters weekends since 2007 that a driver duo celebrated a double victory.

Debut: Marvin Kirchhöfer is following in the footsteps of last year’s champion Jules Gounon. The 24-year-old from Leipzig, who was recruited by Callaway Competition to replace the Frenchman this year, has quickly settled in with the Leingarten-based team. After Most in the Czech Republic resulted in two runner-up spots, the Red Bull Ring has proved an even happier hunting ground. On only his third race weekend in the Corvette C7 GT3-R cockpit, Kirchhöfer claimed a maiden pole position and his first two race victories in the ADAC GT Masters: “It’s an incredible feeling to be standing on the top rung of the podium. Everything just came together – our Corvette C7 GT3-R ran very well here and we got the maximum out of the weekend.”

New leaders: Thanks to their double victory in Austria, Kirchhöfer and Keilwitz moved to the top of the ADAC GT Masters standings. It is the first time this season that defending champions Callaway Competition have had the satisfaction of seeing their drivers head the table. The pairing they displaced at the top, Porsche drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Robert Renauer of Precote Herberth Motorsport, are on 62 points and trail the new leaders by 24. Jaminet and Renauer still have the best record in terms of consistency as the only partnership to have scored points in all races so far contested.

Top Three breakthrough: BMW Team Schnitzer drivers Dennis Marschall and Victor Bouveng made it onto the ADAC GT Masters podium for the first time at Spielberg. Their BMW M6 GT3 crossed the line in third place on Saturday.

Consolation prize: Two drivers who experienced mixed fortunes were the Lamborghini pairing of Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli. The Italians had looked like they might be on course for a points finish on Saturday before having to retire with a damaged gearbox. They then qualified a lowly 24th on Sunday’s grid. All the signs were that the ORANGE1 by GRT Grasser outfit were in for a disappointing weekend. But then came the race itself, in which Bortolotti and Caldarelli played the tyre card to perfection. They stayed out on slicks despite the onset of rain and reaped the benefit later on as the track began to dry out. Their charge through the field took them to the runner-up spot and a first podium since winning the opening race in Oschersleben. “I still cannot believe it,” said Bortolotti. “What a race! As the car entered the pit lane, I looked at my engineer and said to him ‘Let’s stay on slicks’. He did what I said, and it paid off.”

Spectacular pursuit: Bortolotti and Caldarelli were not the only ones to apply canny tactics and battle their way through the field in the rain on Sunday. Their Grasser team-mates Ezequiel Perez Companc and Franck Perera actually gained twenty-four positions on the day to improve from 30th on the grid and finish sixth. There were several other cars that made forward progress from mediocre start positions: of the Top Ten finishers in Race 2 at Spielberg, only four had started from the first five rows. Also worth an honourable mention were the Team Rosberg partnership of Aaro Vainio and Michele Beretta who made good 19 positions but still finished outside the points in P15.

Winner stats: Record ADAC GT Masters race winner Daniel Keilwitz celebrated victories 20 and 21 in the Super Sports Car League. His closest pursuer on the all-time leaderboard is Luca Ludwig with twelve wins, followed by Christopher Haase with eleven P1 finishes. After the Austrian weekend, Corvettes account for 31 wins in the history of the series.

2019 Season