Audi Sport Team Land and Mücke Motorsport took wins last weekend in the penultimate ADAC GT Masters round at the Sachsenring, but the big story came after the second race, when both ZAKSPEED Mercedes were disqualified after finishing 1-2 for illegal technical modifications to their AMG GT3s. The events, which led to a delay in the official results, led to a breakdown in the relationship between AMG Customer Racing and ZAKSPEED, as well as an investigation by the DSMB.
Before looking at the races, here’s the statement from Mercedes AMG Customer Racing, concerning the ZAKSPEED disqualifications:
“Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing dissociates from the conditions that have led to the disqualification of the Zakspeed team during the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring last weekend. At no time, Mercedes-AMG, or the engineers of HWA AG commissioned by us, were involved in the technical modifications that have resulted into the disqualification.
“The cam shaft setting that wasn’t in accordance with the GT3 homologation as identified by the DMSB on both Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Zakspeed team during the ADAC GT Masters event at the Sachsenring is the result of a modified engine mappig.
“How these modified mappings could end up on the two engine control units of the Zakspeed team’s cars is inexplicable to Mercedes-AMG and is currently being investigated in detail by the DMSB. The notification of the technical scrutineers of the DMSB about a possible modification on the two Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Zakspeed team that wasn’t in accordance with the homologation was made directly by Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing respectively by the engineers of HWA AG that were commissioned.
“To clarify this regrettable situation, Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing is fully co-operating with the DMSB.
“Moreover, the contractual relationship between Mercedes-AMG and the Zakspeed team was terminated with immediate effect.”
Land Audi’s reigning champions Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies were totally dominant in the eleventh round of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters staged at the Sachsenring, pulling off a lights-to-flag victory. This second win of the 2017 campaign keeps them in with a chance of successfully defending their title in the Super Sports Car League.
The other podium places went to two Mercedes AMG teams – Nicolai Sylvest and Yelmer Buurman for Mercedes-AMG Team ZAKSPEED in the runner-up spot and HTP’s Indy Dontje and Marvin Kirchhöfer in third. (Though the HTP car was later) moved up to second after ZAKSPEED’s Mercedes was disqualified. It meant the Schnitzer BMW of Philipp Eng and Nick Catsburg.
“We’re back where we belong,” said a jubilant Mies. “I’m so pleased for the whole team. They have worked very hard to make this success possible.”
At the start, Pole-sitter de Phillippi successfully defended his lead at the start. Meanwhile Mercedes-AMG driver Nicolai Sylvest moved up into second place and began to put the Audi under pressure. In a thrilling battle at the front, De Phillippi and Sylvest had pulled out a lead of more than ten seconds over the rest of the field by the time the pit stop window opened. De Phillippi’s partner Christopher Mies dominated proceedings after the driver handover.
The Audi man extended his lead over Yelmer Buurman, who had taken over from Sylvest, to more than three seconds at times. A late safety car deployment to enable the recovery of the Audi retired by Aust Motorsports’ Patric Niederhauser caused the field to bunch up together again, but after that, Mies was able to comfortably secure the ninth ADAC GT Masters win of his career.
With this start-to-finish victory, De Phillippi and Mies have moved up to third place in the championship table on 96 points, keeping alive their hopes of a successful title defence, as they are only 33 points behind current leader Jules Gounon in Callaway Competition’s Corvette, with three races still to be run.
Sylvest and Buurman were eventually beaten by the slender margin of 0.9 seconds. It was the first podium of the season for the number 20 Mercedes-AMG and the first win of the year for Sylvest in the Junior stakes. To the delight of local fans, their hero Marvin Kirchhöfer in another Mercedes AMG made it onto the podium together with team mate Indy Dontje
An eventual third place finish for BMW Schnitzer’s Philipp Eng, who shares the only BMW M6 in the field with Nick Catsburg, secured valuable points in the fight for the title. The Austrian is now under 28 points down on championship leader Jules Gounon, who came home in ninth place along with team-mate Renger van der Zande.
Partnering each other for the first time with Aust Motorsport, Kelvin van der Linde and his younger brother Sheldon were fourth in their Audi R8. Kelvin van der Linde currently ranks fourth in the standings, and so he too managed to keep his title ambitions alive.
Mercedes-AMG cars dominated Sunday’s ADAC GT Masters race at the Sachsenring. ZAKSPEED’s Luca Stolz and Luca Ludwig were first to cross the finish line, followed by their team-mates in the sister car, Nicolai Sylvest and Yelmer Buurman. However, both Mercedes-AMG GT3s entered by Mercedes-AMG Team ZAKSPEED were subsequently disqualified, not only from the Sunday race but also from round 11 contested on Saturday.
It meant the win eventually was handed to Sebastian Asch and Edoardo Mortara for BWT Mücke Motorsport in their Mercedes AMG GT3. Though the results remain provisional due to the appeal.
The reason given for ZAKSPEED’s punishment was failure to comply with GT3 homologation. Because Mercedes-AMG team ZAKSPEED have lodged the intend to appeal against this decision, and until the case is heard before the DMSB appeals committee, there was no official winner and runner-up for the race on Sunday and no second-placed contestant on Saturday either.
Pole-sitter Yelmer Buurman stayed ahead at the start, and, right up until the pit stop, defended his lead from Maximilian Götz’s HTP Mercedes, who was being pursued by fellow Mercedes drivers Mortara and Ludwig.
The AMG-Mercedes, now driven by Buurman’s partner Sylvest, remained in front after the driver handover. To Sylvest’s rear, Ludwig’s team-mate, Luca Stolz, fought his way up into second place leaving both Sebastian Asch and Patrick Assenheimer, who had taken over from Mortara and Götz, trailing in his wake. Stolz took the lead from Sylvest on the last lap and crossed the finish line first.
Asch and DTM driver Mortara took the remaining podium spot ahead of Götz and Assenheimer. The best of the Audi contingent were the Land Motorsport duo of Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase who finished ahead of Philipp Eng and Nicky Catsburg for BMW Team Schnitzer in their BMW M6.
Current championship leader Jules Gounon and partner Renger van der Zande were forced to retire their Corvette C7 when its radiator was damaged by flying debris. Going into the grand finale next weekend at Hockenheim, Gounon’s lead over main rival Eng has shrunk to 20 points.
The final round of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters season is set to take place at Hockenheim this weekend.
Photos courtesy of ADAC GT Masters