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ADAC GT Masters: Season Review

The 2015 ADAC GT Masters season concluded almost two months ago, so it’s time to review the season that saw Luca Ludwig and Sebastian Asch walk away with the championship, sending the Zakspeed run Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 off into a well deserved retirement.

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The season opener back in April at Oschersleben saw the Bentley Continental GT3 make a strong debut in the series, when the driver pairing of Luca Stolz and Jeroen Bleekemolen secured the pole position for both races. But the first race victory went to Christian Engelhart and Klaus Bachler aboard the Schütz Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R. Second and third went to the Mercedes-Benz drivers Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig finishing one up on Hari Proczyk and Andreas Simonsen.

The Gentlemen Class saw Nissan GT Academy 2014 winner Marc Gassner taking a class victory aboard the Nissan GT-R GT3 he shared with Florian Strauss. The second race of the weekend then saw Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz score a first victory for the Bentley Continental GT3, with the places two and three once again held by Asch/ Ludwig and Proczyk/ Simonsen. The Gentlemen Class was won by the second Nissan duo Dominic Jöst and Florian Scholze taking top honours. Christian Engelhart and Klaus Bachler left Oschersleben as the championship leaders.

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Next the series moved on to the Red Bull Ring and it was a Lamborghini show, qualifying saw Philipp Eng, who replaced Christian Engelhart in the Schütz Porsche, and Tomas Enge in the Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX take pole position. The races then went both to Lamborghini’s with the duo of Tomas Enge and David Russell winning race one from Daniel Keilwitz and Andreas Wirth in the Callaway Competitions Corvette Z06.R GT3 and Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig.

The next day then saw Tomas Enge and David Russell losing out to the Grasser Racing Team run Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Mirko Bortolotti and Adrian Zaugg. Klaus Bachler and Philipp Eng completed the podium. The Gentlemen Class saw Remo Lips and Sven Barth plus Dominic Jöst and Florian Scholze splitting the wins. With another strong performance and due to Klaus Bachler and Philipp Eng running into trouble during the first race, Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig were able to leave the Red Bull Ring as championship leaders.

Spa Francorchamps followed the Red Bull Ring and it proved to be a quite good track for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, Sebastian Asch and Bernd Schneider, who stepped in at HP Racing, were able to notch up the pole positions. A strong race, especially the opening phase, saw Dominik Baumann and Jens Klingmann take a victory in their BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3, ahead of Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig with Luca Stolz and Jeroen Bleekemolen completing the podiums.

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The second race, run in torrid rain, then saw Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig take their first win of the season, with Daniel Keilwitz and Andreas Wirth plus the kfzteile24 MS-Racing duo of Marc Basseng and Florian Stoll completing the podium. The Gentlemen Class victories went to Remo Lips and Sven Barth in the first race, with Andreas Weishaupt and Christer Jöns winning round two. With their second and first place finish Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig were able to extend their championship lead, heading out of Spa and onwards to the Lausitzring.

The Lausitzring, held on the first July weekend, saw the teams struggling with early summer hot temperatures, it was Luca Ludwig and Martin Ragginger, who came aboard the Schütz Porsche to share the 911 with Klaus Bachler, taking the pole positions.

Just like at Spa Franchorchamps Dominik Baumann and Jens Klingmann won the first race. The order of the next two podiums spats was decided in a photo finish, with Hari Proczyk and Andreas Simonsen out dragging Uwe Alzen and Claudia Hürtgen in the second BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 for second place.

Luca Ludwig and Sebastian Asch continued their fairy-tale season in winning the second race of the weekend, holding off Daniel Keilwitz and Andreas Wirth with Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger completing the podium. The Gentlemen Class saw Jakub Knoll and Lennart Marioneck take the win in race one, while Remo Lips and Sven Barth scored a victory in the second one. With still no down weekend Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig still held the lead, heading to the next race at the Nürburgring.

A typical wet Nürburgring weekend kicked of the second half of the 2015 season, in the first race Jordan Lee Pepper and Nicki Thiim in one of the C.Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra crossed the line in first but due to an overtaking manoeuvre under safety car conditions the duo lost its win to their fellow Audi runners Edward Sandström and Daniel Dobitsch, who were racing for the kfzteile24 MS Racing team. The podium was completed by fellow Audi crews Rahel Frey and Philip Geipel in the Yaco Racing car and the C.Abt Racing duo Kelvin van der Linde and Stefan Wackerbauer.

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The second race then saw a double victory for the kfzteile24 MS Racing Team with Florian Stoll and Marc Basseng winning from their teammates Edward Sandström and Daniel Dobitsch. Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger took third and due to a difficult weekend for the championship leaders Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig were able to close down the gap in the points table, but Asch and Ludwig still travelled to the next round at the Sachsenring as championship leaders.

The Gentlemen Class was won by the guest entry of Alexander Mattschull and Renger van der Zande in the CarCollection Motorsport run Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and in the second race it was Remo Lips and Sven Barth on top.

The Sachsenring hosted the sixth round of the 2015 season, and it was Claudia Hürtgen, writing history in being the first female racer to score a pole. The other pole position went to Klaus Bachelor.

The first race of the weekend then saw Dominik Baumann and Jens Klingmann scoring another victory, their third in 2015, tightly holding off their teammates Uwe Alzen and Claudia Hürtgen. Daniel Keilwitz and Andreas Wirth completing the podium. Kelvin van der Linde and Stefan Wackerbauer scored their first victory of the season in the second race of the weekend, with Fabian Hamprecht and Clemens Schmid in second and Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger completing the podium.

Andreas Weishaupt and Christer Jöns were the best Gentlemen Class runners in the first race, with Dominic Jöst and Florian Scholze taking the spoils in the second race. Due to a steering failure in the second race and a fifth place finish in the first one Sebastian Asch’s and Luca Ludwig’s championship lead shrunk to 23 points heading into the penultimate round at Zandvoort.

The qualifying at Zandvoort saw the championship leader chasing Dominik Baumann and Martin Ragginger taking the pole positions.

Drama before the first race, with Sebastian Asch having a drive shaft failure on the parade lap onto the grid saw drama in the grid, with the Zakspeed mechanics scrambling to change the drive shaft, completing the task just in time.

Their hard work was rewarded by Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig who took their third victory of the season ahead of the Audi racers Marc Basseng and Florian Stoll and Rahel Frey and Philip Geipel. Race two saw Tomas Enge and Jaap van Lagen in a Lamborghini Gallardo R-EX run by Reiter Engineering cross the line in first place, but due to a rules infringement under safety car they were penalized with a 30 seconds penalty which put them back into twelfth place and handing the win to Dominik Baumann and Jens Klinsmann.

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Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Nick Catsburg in the other Reiter Gallardo took then second, with Jordan Lee Pepper and Nicki Thiim completing the podium. The Gentlemen Class victories both times went to Andreas Weishaupt and Christer Jöns.

After their victory the day before, Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig finished tenth in the second race, just scoring a single point. This meant that the championship would be decided at Hockenheim, with Asch and Ludwig holding a 31 point advantage over Dominik Baumann and Jens Klingmann. With Klingmann an TUSCC duty it was DTM racer Bruno Spengler joining Baumann in a push for the championship at Hockenheim.

The Hockenheim season finale saw a welcome return of the Lambda Performance Ford GT with Frank Kechele taking the pole for the second race and Luca Stolz putting his Bentley Continental GT3 into the top spot for the first round of the weekend.

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The first race was highlighted by big time drama at the start of the race, which saw the championship leader Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig taken out. With Dominik Baumann and Bruno Spengler finishing fourth in the race, the gap was down to 19 points.

Meanwhile Rahel Frey and Philip Geipel claimed their first victory with their Audi R8, Fabian Hamprecht and Clemens Schmid finished second and Kelvin van der Linde and Stefan Wackerbauer completed the podium. The second race saw Jordan Lee Pepper and Nicki Thiim finally taking their first win of the season, with Frank Kechele and Nico Verdonck plus Bruno Spengler and Dominik Baumann completing the podium. Baumann’s third place finish wasn’t enough to take the championship and so it was Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig taking the championship.

For Ludwig its his first GT Masters title, while Asch celebrated his second, making him the first driver with multiple championships. The Gentlemen Class race wins went to Marc Gassner and Florian Strauss and Remo Lips and Sven Barth, but it was Andreas Weishaupt, who shared a C.Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra with Christer Jöns being crowned the Gentlemen Class champion. For the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert the team title was a little make up for their driver Dominik Baumann losing out on the drivers title.

Next year the ADAC GT Masters will celebrate it’s tenth season, and it will see several changes, first of all expect arrival of many of the new GT3 cars and also the regulations will change, with Qualifying now to be held on each race day morning and the ADAC deciding to introduce a junior driver category, for silver rated drivers under 25. There will also be an increased money price put, up to 500000 euros now. The biggest change so far is the link up with the DTM at the Lausitzring round, where both championships will host a race weekend including each doing two races.

2016 provisional calendar:

15.04. – 17.04.2016 etropolis Motorsport Arena Oschersleben
29.04. – 01.05.2016 Sachsenring
03.06. – 05.06.2016 Lausitzring
22.07. – 24.07.2016 Red Bull Ring
05.08. – 07.08.2016 Nürburgring
19.08. – 21.08.2016 Circuit Park Zandvoort
30.09. – 02.10.2016 Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg