Race Reviews

GT Masters: Rain produces thriller at Nurburgring

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It wasn’t what we were expecting coming into the GT Masters round at the Nurburgring but the rain gave us a couple thrilling races…

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Race 1 – Podium lock-out for Audi in rain thriller

Dobitsch & Sandström win after Pepper & Thiim handed time penalty. Newcomer Alexander Mattschull wins Gentlemen class in a Mercedes.

Two downpours and a safety car deployment at the Nürburgring made for spectacular racing in the ADAC GT Masters. The Super Sports Cars League returned from its summer break to changeable weather which caused some thrills and spills. Jordan Lee Pepper (19, ZA) and Nicki Thiim (26, DK) in a C.Abt Racing Audi R8 had the best strategy in the tough conditions, caused by two showers of rain and a track that began to dry out in between the downpours. They were first to cross the finish line, but the Audi drivers were handed a 30-second time penalty for an infringement of the rules during a safety car deployment and assigned fifth place after the race. That gave victory in the ninth race of the season to Daniel Dobitsch (31, AUT) and Edward Sandström (36, S), who secured their first ADAC GT Masters race win together in the kfzteile24 MS RACING Audi R8. Rahel Frey (29, CH) and Philip Geipel (28, Plauen, both YACO Racing) stuck with slicks for the whole race and placed second ahead of Stefan Wackerbauer (19, GER) and Kelvin van der Linde (19, ZA) in the C.Abt Racing Audi R8.

Ragginger throws away chance of win with late tyre change

The notoriously unpredictable Eifel weather once again caused high drama in the ADAC GT Masters. Martin Ragginger (27, AUT) in the GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 defended his lead against Clemens Schmid (24, AUT, Bentley Team HTP) in the Bentley Continental and Frey in the Audi after starting from pole position. A downpour nine minutes into the race was then the cue for the start of a tactical battle and everyone trying to outguess the rain. Ragginger remained out on slicks for a long time on the wet track, hoping for an improvement in conditions.

But it was a gamble that ultimately didn’t pay off. The Porsche driver did indeed retain the lead before handing over to Klaus Bachler (24, AUT), but Thiim and Pepper came off best after the driver changeover. The Audi duo played a tactical race in the first stint and were one of the first teams to switch to wets, which gave Thiim the lead after the driver changeover. The Dane extended his lead with every lap, but a retrospective time penalty robbed him of the win. Dobitsch and Sandström took second place from championship leader Luca Ludwig (26, GER) with four laps to go and moved up into P1 after Pepper and Thiim were given the penalty.

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An identical rule infringement led to championship leader Luca Ludwig (26, GER) & Sebastian Asch (GER, both Team Zakspeed 29) in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, Nico Bastian (25, GER) & Stef Dusseldorp (25, NL) in the ROWE Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG and Dominik Baumann (22, AUT) & Jens Klingmann (25, GER, both BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert) in the BMW Z4 also receiving 30-second time penalties. Ludwig and Asch were ranked ninth, Bastian and Dusseldorp eleventh, while Baumann & Klingmann were assigned twelfth position.

This success in the Audi R8 is the first victory in the ADAC GT Masters for Sandström and Dobitsch. kfzteile24 MS RACING secured their first win since the season finale at Hockenheim back in 2012. The triple victory still goes to Audi even after the stewards’ decisions.

Frey and Geipel turned in a strong performance. The Audi duo decided not to switch tyres despite two showers of rain during the race and stayed out on slicks, a brave strategy which secured them second place. Fellow Audi drivers Stefan Wackerbauer (19, GER) & Kelvin van der Linde (19, ZA, both C.Abt Racing) were allocated P3. Hari Proczyk (39, AUT) & Bernd Schneider (51, CH, both HP Racing) in the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG moved up into fourth position.

Claudia Hürtgen (43, GER) & Uwe Alzen (47, GER, all BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert) were ranked sixth ahead of Diego Alessi (43, ITA) & Patrick Assenheimer (23, GER, both Callaway Competition) in P7.

Bachler, who is currently second in the standings, was unlucky on Saturday. The Austrian was the hapless victim of a contact between the Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz (26, GER, Callaway Competition) and the Bentley of Fabian Hamprecht (20, GER, Bentley Team HTP) and had to park up his damaged 911.

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Race 2 – One-two victory for kfzteile24 MS RACING

Florian Stoll and Marc Basseng crossed the line at Race 2 just ahead of Race 1 winners Daniel Dobitsch (31, AUT) and Edward Sandström.

Nürburg: Orange was the colour of the day at the Nürburgring as kfzteile24 MS RACING took the Sunday honours on the fifth ADAC GT Masters race weekend of 2015. After claiming Saturday´s win in the Eifel, the Audi outfit hammered home their superiority as Florian Stoll (34, GER) and Marc Basseng (36, GER) crossed the line just ahead of Race 1 winners Daniel Dobitsch (31, AUT) and Edward Sandström (36, SWE), making it a one-two finish in a rain-affected race. “This victory tastes very sweet, because it was hard-won,” said a delighted Basseng. “No-one was doing us any favours right from the first lap. With our team-mates taking second place, that rounded off an almost perfect weekend. At last, our team seems to have made the breakthrough.” Klaus Bachler (24, AUT) and Martin Ragginger (27, AUT) in the GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 finished in third place, thereby closing the gap on championship leaders Luca Ludwig (26, GER) and Sebastian Asch (29, GER) who came tenth in the Team Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG.

Porsche loses chance of victory with late pit stop

The Nürburgring showed its trickier side for the second race of the weekend, with rain once again falling throughout. Bachler in the Porsche 911 started from pole and maintained his lead but came under immediate pressure from Nicki Thiim (26, DK) in a C.Abt Racing Audi R8. The Porsche driver was able to catch his breath when the safety car came out on track after a collision between the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert Z4 of Uwe Alzen (47, GER) and the C.Abt Racing Audi R8 of Kelvin after Linde (19, ZA). After the restart, however, Bachler was no longer able to fend off the challenge from Thiim, son of touring car legend Kurt. The Danish driver got past the Porsche to take the lead, but suffered a second stroke of bad luck at the Nürburgring after being deprived of Saturday´s win when his Audi developed a technical defect on Lap 14 and had to be parked up. This triggered yet another safety car deployment, and Bachler regained the lead.

The Porsche team managed by Christian Schütz then made a tactical error at the changeover of drivers during the safety car period, calling Bachler into the pits one lap after the main field. As a result, Bachler´s team-mate Ragginger found himself back down in seventh place. Stoll took over the Audi in P1 ahead of fellow Audi driver pair Andreas Weishaupt (42, GER) and Daniel Dobitsch. Stoll then drove to a fairly comfortable victory while Dobitsch was clawing his way up into second place. Ragginger too went on an impressive charge, progressing to third place. For Basseng and Stoll, this second ADAC GT Masters victory was the end of a long lean period for both of them in the Super Sports Car League: Stoll last won in 2011 at the Lausitzring, while this was Basseng´s first win since 2008.

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Basseng: “Especially at the start, you could see that I´ve experienced a wide range of situations here at the Nürburgring. I managed to ward off all the attacks and seize the initiative. This is now something like the 30th time I´ve stood on the top step of the podium here at the Nürburgring, but this victory was really something special.”

“We´ve had a long hard journey over the past two years, and at last it seems we´re on the up,” said a delighted Stoll. “I hope we can now maintain this level, but it´s not going to be easy. Our Audi is running extremely well at the moment. We´ve been working towards that for a long time.”

Dominik Baumann (22, AUT) and Jens Klingmann (25, GER) in a BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert Z4 GT3 finished the race in fourth place ahead of Hari Proczyk (39, AUT) and Bernd Schneider (51, CH) in the HP Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Weishaupt shared sixth place with partner Christer Jöns (28, GER), achieving not only his best result so far in the ADAC GT Masters but also victory in the Gentlemen class. Luca Stolz (19, GER) and Vincent Abril (20, MCO) in the faster of the two Bentley Continentals fielded by Bentley Team HTP took seventh ahead of the second-placed pairing in the Gentlemen class, Marc Gassner (24, GER) and Florian Strauss (30, GER) in their MRS GT-Racing Nissan GT-R. The second Bentley Team HTP entry driven by Clemens Schmid (24, AUT) and Fabian Hamprecht (20, AUT) took ninth.

For the second race in succession, championship leaders Ludwig and Asch had to attack the field from the rear after their Mercedes-Benz was excluded from qualifying for being underweight. Despite a drive-through penalty for overtaking under yellow flags, the Zakspeed duo still managed to salvage one point for a tenth-place finish. Closest pursuer Bachler thus took ten points out of their championship lead ahead of the sixth of the eight race weekends which will be hosted by the Sachsenring (28th – 30th August).

In the Gentlemen standings, Remo Lips (32, CH, RWT Racing Team) retained the top spot. Together with Sven Barth (34, GER), the Swiss amateur finished third in the Gentlemen class. His closest pursuers in the title chase, the MRS GT-Racing Nissan pairing of Dominic Jöst (36, GER) and Florian Scholze (42, GER), missed out on the podium in both of the races at the Nürburgring and were subsequently placed fourth ahead of Saturday´s winner Alexander Mattschull (43, GER) in the CarCollection Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG as a result of a penalty for a speeding in the pit lane.