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ADAC GT Masters: Red Bull Ring & Spa Francorchamps, Race Reports

Over the past two weeks the ADAC GT Masters visited two of the most scenic race tracks in Europe, first up was the Red Bull Ring hosting races three and four of the 2015 season followed up by two more races this past weekend at Spa Francorchamps.

Red Bull Ring

21 cars found their way to the Red Bull Ring, with major changes being reported on the driver front. After winning the season opening race Christian Engelhart decided to step aside for the second round due to feeling sick, his spot in the lone Porsche 911 GT3 R was taken by Philipp Eng. Giving their debut, were the Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX of Reiter Engineering and the Lamborghini Huracan entered by the Grasser Racing Team. At Reiter it was David Russell and Tomas Enge sharing driving duties, while the Huracan had Adrian Zaugg and Mirko Bortolotti onboard.

Qualifying saw substitute driver Philipp Eng put the Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R on pole for the first race of the weekend. Joining him on the front row was Dominic Jöst in the MRS Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3, the best starting position for the GT-R. Narrowly missing out on a front row start was David Russell in the Reiter Gallardo, sharing the second row with the Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz. The second Qualifying session saw Thomas Enge take pole in the Gallardo, ahead of the Keilwitz/ Wirth Vette. Florian Strauss put his Nissan into third, with Diego Alessi qualifying his Corvette fourth.

Race 1

In the first half of race one it was Dominic Jöst starring aboard the MRS Nissan, he was able to get by Eng in the pole sitting Porsche, to take the lead until the half way point of the one hour race. Eng also had to let David Russell slip past him before the pit stops. With their co drivers now aboard it was Thomas Enge in the lead, as the Reiter team had a three second shorter pit stop that vaulted them past Florian Scholze, who was now behind the wheel of the Nissan.

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But with 20 minutes left in the race Scholze’s Nissan lost drive due to an electrical problem, that hampered the team all weekend. After limping back to the pit lane the team decided to retire the car, with a podium well in their sight. Taking over second place was Daniel Keilwitz, he tried to hunt down Enge albeit unsuccessful before the chequered flag came out. It was David Russell and Thomas Enge first victory in the ADAC GT Masters, finishing in P2 were Daniel Keilwitz and Andreas Wirth. A trouble free race propelled Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig, in the Zakspeed Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, to a third place finish. Fourth went to Diego Alessi and Patrick Assenheimer in the second Callaway Corvette, one place ahead of Philipp Eng/ Klaus Bachler. Finishing in sixth and winning the Gentlemen Class was the RWT Corvette with Remo Lips and Sven Barth behind the wheel, one position ahead of Uwe Alzen/ Claudia Hürtgen in the Schubert BMW. The final points scoring spots went to the Audi R8 LMS ultra’s of Marc Basseng/ Florian Stoll and Kelvin van der Linde/ Stefan Wackerbauer.

Race 2

The start of the race was a hotly contested one, with Daniel Keilwitz in the Callaway Corvette putting a lot of pressure on pole sitter Tomas Enge and when the field hit the second corner the Vette was past the Gallardo and into the lead. A little bit later Enge lost another position to Mirko Bortolotti in the Grasser Huracan. After the mandatory pit stop the battle for the victory was on between Keilwitz’s teammate Andreas Wirth and Adrian Zaugg, now behind the wheel of the Huracan. Zaugg was able to take the lead, when Wirth had to pit the Z06.R GT3 with a strong vibration coming from the rear axle.

The trouble for the Corvette secured the victory for the duo Mirko Bortolotti/ Adrian Zaugg in their Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan, with Thomas Enge and David Russell moving up to second, making it a Lamborghini double victory. Due to Bortolotti/ Zaugg being a guest entry Enge and Russell took home full points from the Red Bull Ring. Rounding out the podium were Philipp Eng/ Klaus Bachler in the Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, making up the ground lost during race one due to a slow puncture.

A fourth place was enough for Sebastian Asch/ Luca Ludwig to keep their championship lead with their Zakspeed fielded Mercedes- Benz SLS AMG GT3. Charging from 12th on the grid to a fifth place finish were Luca Stolz/ Jeroen Bleekemolen in one of the Bentley Team HTP Bentley Continental GT3. Finishing sixth meant valuable championship points for Florian Scholze/ Dominic Jöst, it was also a victory in the Gentlemen class and the best ever result for the Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3. Remo Lips/ Sven Barth finished seventh and second in the Gentlemen class. Clemens Schmid/ Fabian Hamprecht scored their first points of 2015 by crossing the line in eight, the final points paying positions were occupied by Uwe Alzen/ Claudia Hürtgen in the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 and Daniel Dobitsch/ Edward Sandström in the kfzteile24 MS Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra.

Spa Francorchamps

The entry list for the third round of the 2015 season saw some changes, mainly due to clashing events. Klaus Bachler got his third teammate of the season aboard the Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R, with Martin Ragginger taking the seat previously occupied by Philipp Eng and Christian Engelhart, who both were busy at the Porsche Super Cup at the Red Bull Ring. At HP Racing Bernd Schneider subbed for Andreas Simonsen, who had to give up his seat next to Hari Proczyk due to the clashing Blancpain Endurance Series round at Paul Ricard. With Tomas Enge busy a the Super GT Round at Buriram it was Steve Owen taking up his seat alongside David Russell. A guest entry by Herbert Motorsport, with a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Alfred Renauer and Rene Bourdeaux held the grid at 21 cars entered.

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After both Qualifying sessions it was a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 sitting atop the timing screens. Sebastian Asch put his Zakspeed SLS into the best starting position, while series debutant Bernd Schneider had the fastest time in the second Qualifying session. The Qualifying session also saw its first casualty of the weekend, when David Russell crashed his Gallardo R-EX, sustaining damage that wasn’t repairable onsite. For race one it was Jens Klingmann in one of the two Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 lining up next to Asch on the front row. With Martin Ragginger (Schütz – Porsche) and reigning champion Stefan Wackerbauer (C.Abt – Audi) making up the second row. For the second race it was both of the Schubert BMW’s making up positions two and three, with Uwe Alzen outqualifying his teammate Dominik Baumann.

Race 1

Clearly having the worst start of the front runners was Jens Klingmann in the Schubert BMW Z4 GT3, who slipped down to fifth after the lights went green. Shortly there after he got passed Stefan Wackerbauer in the C.Abt Audi, with the Audi then spinning into the barriers resulting in a brief safety car deployment. But once the field was let loose again he set his eyes firmly onto the lead and by the time he handed the car over to his teammate Dominik Baumann held a lead gap of over 8 seconds. This was enough for Baumann to seal the victory for the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert.

A uncontested second place went to Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig, with the Zakspeed SLS duo making it four podium finishes out of five races in 2015. The Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 crossed the line just tenths after the SLS, but due to a five second penalty for not respecting the track limits lost his third place to Jeroen Bleekemolen and Lucas Stolz in the Bentley Team HTP Continental GT3.

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Behind the Schütz 911 it was Uwe Alzen/ Claudia Hürtgen finishing in fifth. With places six and eight the kfzteile24 MS Racing Team was able to score points with both of it’s Audi R8 LMS ultra’s, in-between them the HP Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 finished seventh. The final points were awarded to the Corvette Z06.R GT3 line ups of Diego Alessi/ Patrick Assenheimer and Sven Barth/ Remo Lips. The second HTP Bentley of Clemens Schmid/ Fabian Hamprecht crossed the line in sixth place, but due to a 30 seconds time penalty resulting from a clash between Hamprecht and Rahel Frey in the Yaco Audi R8 LMS ultra relegated the Continental GT3 to 14th place.

Race 2

Typical weather for Spa Francorchamps hit the field during the formation lap, when the floodgates opened and with most of the field rolling on slick tires the race director decided to red flag the race in order to give the teams a chance on changing their tires. In addition there were multiple formation laps held for the second start attempt, resulting in a shortened race distance of just 51 minutes. When the field was let go it was Bernd Schneider taking the lead and a hard charging Luca Ludwig getting up to second place. Both of the Schubert BMW’s struggled and fell back. Shortly after the start the rain worsened and race control decided to deploy the safety car, after the restart it was Daniel Keilwitz in the Callaway Corvette finding a way past both of the leading SLS and handing over the car in P1 to his teammate Andreas Wirth. Holding their pit stop in parallel were the HP Racing team and Hari Proczyk got back out in front of Wirth, but due to the team not respecting the minimum pit stop time they were slammed with a stop and go penalty.

In the meantime Sebastian Asch, now behind the wheel of the Zakspeed SLS, was able to get behind Wirth’s Corvette and got past him and when Prozcyk served his penalty took the lead. From then on he secured the first victory of the season for Zakspeed, which also meant that he and Ludwig cemented their championship lead. Andreas Wirth crossed the line in second place and third place went to the kfzteile24 MS Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra of Marc Basseng/ Florian Stoll. It was a welcomed return to the podium for MS Racing, who scored their first podium finish since winning the ADAC GT Masters championship in 2012, then with a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3.

Finishing fourth was the C.Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra of Nicki Thiim/ Jordan Lee Pepper, Thiim was flying in the wet and his young team mate drove a superb second race half to score a season best finish for last years championship winning team C.Abt Racing. BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert took home positions five and sixth, with Dominik Baumann/ Jens Klingmann finishing ahead of Uwe Alzen/ Claudia Hürtgen. Seventh place went to Yaco Racing’s duo Rahel Frey/ Philip Geipel in their Audi R8 LMS ultra. Due to a fogged windscreen Martin Ragginger/ Klaus Bachler lost valuable ground, but still managed to score points by finishing eight. Andreas Weishaupt/ Christer Jöns won the Gentlemen class and finished in ninth place. After serving their stop and go penalty Hari Proczyk/ Bernd Schneider rebounded to get the final point for a tenth place finish.

By finishing on the podium five times out of six races Sebastian Asch/ Luca Ludwig hold a comfortable championship lead of 28 points over Klaus Bachler in second place. Jeroen Bleekemolen/ Luca Stolz have their hand on third place, albeit already 57 points adrift. The team championship is also lead by Zakspeed ahead of Schütz Motorsport with the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert in third. Dominic Jöst/ Florian Scholze hold a 26 points advantage over Remo Lips for the lead in the Gentlemen class championship.

The next weekend of the ADAC GT Masters takes place July 3rd/5th at the Lausitzring.

Soren Herweg