Impressive season first half: HCB Rutronik Racing from Remchingen near the Black Forest had good reason to remain cheerful even though their performance at the weekend was the weakest so far of their first season in the ADAC GT Masters with only one top-ten finish in the races. Championship leaders, Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde, secured the title of ‘half-time’ champions on Saturday, and the team managed to do the same in the team standings. “Even though we were only able to practise damage limitation at Zandvoort, we can still feel very positive about our showing in the first half of the season,” said Team Principal, Fabian Plentz. “We were able to extend our championship lead, and our second car is coming along quite nicely.”
Maiden wins: For Montaplast-by-Land-Motorsport drivers, Dries Vanthoor and Ricardo Feller, Sunday’s win was their first in the ADAC GT Masters. It was Vanthoor’s 22nd race start in the series and the 36th overall for his 19-year-old team-mate, who may be the youngest driver in the Super Sports Car League line-up but is already in his third consecutive year.
Green/white reign supreme: “We could jump for joy! The whole team did a magnificent job,” said Team Manager, Christian Land. “Our goal was to secure the double after our strong qualifying result. The guys did it in style!”
End of a run: Until Sunday’s race, RWT Racing drivers Sven Barth and David Jahn had been the only drivers to score points consistently without a break in the Super Sports Car League in 2019. However, enforced retirement due to a technical problem ended their run in the points on Sunday after seven races.
Making good: Fabian Vettel rewarded Mann-Filter Team HTP’s mechanics by taking his maiden podium. After spectacularly crashing out of Sunday’s race at Spielberg recently, his mechanics had their work cut out to repair the considerable amount of damage to the Mercedes-AMG GT3. And their efforts paid off: “The car was amazing,” said Fabian, the brother of four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel. Earlier on Saturday, Vettel Junior and partner Philip Ellis had gone on an impressive charge, moving up from 24th on the grid to finish seventh as the best placed Mercedes-AMG outfit.
Repairs: Extensive repairs were also needed at EFP Car Collection by TECE after the Red Bull Ring when Florian Spengler was involved in the collision during the start of Sunday’s race, so the team had to completely rebuild the #12 Audi R8 LMS with a new chassis.
Missed chances: Corvette drivers Markus Pommer and Marvin Kirchhöfer in second place overall were not at all pleased with the Zandvoort races. They notched up two big fat zeroes in the end even though they had twice been on course to take points. What they found especially annoying was that, since championship leaders, Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde, did not collect any points from Saturday’s round, Kirchhöfer and Pommer could have taken over the overall lead and with it, the title of ‘half-time’ champions. But unfortunately, a misfiring engine halted the Callaway Corvette’s progress. A drive-through penalty for a pit stop that was too short then led to a second failure to score on Sunday. “What a disappointing weekend!” said Kirchhöfer. “We were very good on Saturday and could have taken the lead. Sunday was annoying as well when we could have finished in the Top Ten again. It was obvious that we were never going to have an easy time at Zandvoort, but it’s a bitter pill to swallow when you get the chance to exceed expectations and then the total opposite suddenly happens.”
Top-five finish on series debut: Toksport WRT made a promising start in the ADAC GT Masters at the weekend. Maro Engel and Luca Stolz were fourth in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 until shortly after the middle of Saturday’s race when they were forced to retire with a faulty steering pump seal. Engel and Stolz finished fifth in the second round. “That was a very good first showing in this high-class series,” said Engel. “It could have gone even better had we been luckier in qualifying and been able to start further up the grid.” Team-mate Luca Stolz feels very confident about the upcoming weekend at the Nürburgring: “Our aim now is to finish on the podium!”
Hofer becomes Junior with most points: Two strong races enabled Audi driver, Max Hofer, to take the overall lead in the Pirelli Junior classification at Zandvoort. On Saturday, the 20-year-old Austrian was the third-best young driver in the race and took second place in the classification for drivers under 25 on Sunday.
Solid team performance: Austrian outfit, Orange 1 by GRT Grasser, had their most successful race weekend of the season to date by taking their first win of the season on Saturday with Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart. The team’s three Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evos also had an excellent showing, as all three Lambos finished in the Top Ten in both races. They were first, third and tenth on Saturday, and fourth, sixth and seventh on Sunday. “Zandvoort has definitely been the highlight of our season so far,” said Team Principal, Gottfried Grasser. “It was a great team effort, and I’m very pleased. It was an amazing achievement to have two cars on the podium on Saturday and then have all three cars in a row on Sunday. Our three cars were really close together in both races. As team boss, it was a fine sight to behold. This weekend was a huge boost for us in the championship.”
Triple points: BWT Mücke Motorsport also finished in the points with all three Audi R8 LMS cars at Zandvoort. “We used the summer break to analyse the start of the season in order to identify ways of repeating former performances in the second half of the season,” said Team Manager, Mathias Kieper. “We were partly successful. This is the first time since joining the ADAC GT Masters that we’ve been able to achieve points-scoring finishes with all three cars in both races. We want to repeat that at the Nürburgring, preferably with 25, 20 and 16 points in the two rounds!”
Long wait #1: Sunday’s pole-sitter, Christopher Mies, has had to wait six years to get back to the very front of the grid. The last time the Audi driver was on pole was at the Sachsenring in 2013.
Long wait #2: The win taken by Bortolotti and Engelhart in Race 1 was the first in the ADAC GT Masters for Grasser Racing engineer Johannes Hierold since 2010 when he was in charge of servicing Reiter Engineering’s car for Albert von Thurn and Taxis and Peter Kox, who went on to win the championship.