The Porsche duo of David Jahn and Kevin Estre in the TEAM75 Bernhard Porsche claimed their fourth win of the season in Race 1 of the Hockenheim grand finale.
“That was our fourth consecutive victory in a Saturday race – I think we can safely claim the title of Saturday champions,” exclaimed Jahn. “It’s a really great result in such a difficult wet race. I wasn’t quite sure how good I would be in the rain, but it all worked out perfectly. I took the lead as early as the third corner, which is precisely what I had hoped. From that point on, I controlled the race from the front. Regarding the championship, we’ll continue to give the maximum, and we just have to wait and see what the others do.”
Behind, a second place finish for the Audi R8 pairing of Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies was enough to consolidate their championship lead in the Land Motorsport Audi and boost their chances of clinching the title in Race 2.
The heavens opened just as Race 1 of the 2016 ADAC GT Masters season finale was about to get underway, turning the penultimate contest of the season into a battle in the rain. Shortly after the start, pole-setter Connor De Phillippi in the Audi R8 lost the lead to Porsche man David Jahn. A few metres down the track, the championship leader saw another Porsche overtake him, this time driven by Marvin Dienst driving for bigFM Racing Team Schütz Motorsport. Championship rival Jules Gounon, who had started from twelfth place, gained a lot of ground during the initial stages and was in fourth place behind De Phillippi before the round of mandatory pit stops.
As the leading quartet of drivers returned to the track after the changeover, De Phillippi’s team-mate Christopher Mies got past Christopher Zanella, who had taken over the Porsche from Dienst, and moved up to P2. At the front, Kévin Estre was unstoppable in the second stint of the race, securing his team’s fourth Saturday victory in a row on a drying track. Jahn made good his third place overall and kept alive his mathematical chances of lifting the title in the drivers’ standings, albeit with a 23-point deficit to overcome.
De Phillippi and Mies still hold all the aces as regards the championship. The Audi duo drove to second place as they secured their seventh podium finish of the season and are now twelve points ahead of Gounon and Keilwitz’s Callaway Corvette, who crossed the finish line in sixth position, leaving them second in the championship standings. This means that the championship leaders only needed to finish third in the second race to win the drivers’ title regardless of anyone else’s result. .
Dienst and Zanella were pleased to take third place and make their first podium appearance of the season. Christopher Haase and Stéphane Ortelli, team-mates of De Phillippi and Mies, played a crucial role in boosting the title chances for Montaplast by Land Motorsport by finishing fourth after starting from third place on the grid. The Audi outfit continue to lead from Corvette specialists Callaway Competition. Fabian Hamprecht and Christer Jöns’s Bentley Team ABT Continental made a strong charge up the field in the best-placed Bentley Continental, moving up from P18 on the grid to finish fifth.
Defending champions Sebastian Asch and Luca Ludwig dropped out of contention, as they finished seventh. Their Zakspeed teammates, Nicolai Sylvest and Nikolaj Rogivue booked eighth place. Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart came home in ninth position in the best-placed Lamborghini Huracán, which means that the fight between Ineichen and fellow Swiss driver Remo Lips for the title in the Trophy class is still on. Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Pierre Kaffer were delighted to secure their first point in the ADAC GT Masters by placing tenth in the Audi R8 prepared by Aust Motorsport.
The race itself was won by Robert Renauer and Martin Ragginger but the real winners in Race 2 were Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies, who were crowned ADAC GT Masters champions. In a race that was on a knife-edge right up until the final seconds, the fans at Hockenheim watched the Audi R8 duo finish in eighth place, which was enough to see them take the title. At one point, their main rivals Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz in their Callaway Corvette C7 seemed to be on course to pip them to the title, but a crash brought their race to a sudden end.
“We are the champions – what a season!” said series newcomer De Phillippi. “This is definitely the best day of my motorsport career.”
“For quite a few laps at the beginning of the race, I was stuck behind a Porsche,” added Mies. “If I’d been absolutely ruthless, I could have got past him, but I didn’t want to take any risks. Then, just before the pit stop, I made an unfortunate error. But the reactions of the team were brilliant, and they immediately called me into the pits. In the second half of the race, there was the accident involving Jules (Gounon). I wish him a speedy recovery. Towards the end, it got a bit tense again, but ultimately we did it. Now we can celebrate.”
Spectators at the final race of the season had the thrill of witnessing two different contests – the battle for the race win and the championship decider. Martin Ragginger in a Porsche comfortably defended his lead after the start from fellow Porsche driver, Kévin Estre. Daniel Keilwitz, who was second in the standings, moved up two places in his Corvette C7 at the start and was in fourth place behind Christian Engelhart in the Lamborghini Huracán. Audi driver Christopher Mies hung on to his P7 starting position, which as it stood would have been enough to retain the championship lead. Then came the heart-stopping moment shortly before the round of pit stops when he went off into the gravel and dropped out of the points.
Things got even more dramatic after the driver handover. Connor De Phillippi was still outside the Top Ten, while Gounon was fourth and on course to take the title. While scrapping for third place with the Lamborghini of Rolf Ineichen, the Frenchman spun off track and hit the crash barriers. The race was then red-flagged. Gounon survived the crash unhurt.
The two Porsches of Robert Renauer and Estré’s team-mate David Jahn remained in the lead after the restart. Jahn still had a mathematical chance of lifting the title, but an eighth-place finish by De Phillippi and Mies was enough for the Audi duo to emerge triumphant. Jahn finished the race in P2, depriving Gounon and Keilwitz of the runner-up spot in the drivers’ championship. This was De Phillippi’s second title win of the weekend after securing victory in the Junior classification for drivers under 25 years on Saturday. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport also won the team title.
Robert Renauer and Martin Ragginger claimed the final race victory of the season and their second of the campaign. Taking the chequered flag behind second-placed Jahn and Estre were the Team Zakspeed Mercedes-AMG pairing of Nicolai Sylvest and Nikolaj Rogivue for whom this represented a second podium finish of 2016. Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart slotted into fourth place, giving Ineichen the race victory in the Trophy class.
The Team Schutz Motorsport Porsche with Marvin Dienst and Christopher Zanella at the wheel finished fifth. Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey were sixth in the best-placed Audi R8.