Callaway Competition’s Jules Gounon clinched the 2018 ADAC GT title with a race to spate last weekend, with co driver Daniel Keilwitz, by winning the first first of two races in the Corvette C7 GT3 on the final weekend of the season at Hockenheim. Defending champions Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies in the #1 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi took second place ahead of Zakspeed Mercedes-AMG duo Luca Stolz and Luca Ludwig.
“I am ecstatic about winning this title,” said a jubilant Gounon. “It’s unbelievable that we’ve done it. My thanks to the whole Callaway team. Without them, this success would not have been possible.”
From pole, Gounon and partner Daniel Keilwitz put in a solid performance as they secured a lights-to-flag victory. Gounon in the Corvette defended P1 at the start and pulled out a lead of almost two seconds at times before the mandatory pit stop. Following the change of drivers, his German partner clinched the win at the finish line after extending the comfort zone to almost five seconds at times. This was Gounon’s third win of the season and the second for team-mate Keilwitz, who has had to miss three races because of a broken leg. Victory has brought Gounon his first ADAC GT Masters title in advance of the end of the season, as the 22-year-old has a 40-point lead in the standings, which means that he cannot now be overtaken in Sunday’s final race.
For Gounon’s team, Callaway Competition, this is its second driver’s title in the ADAC GT Masters since last winning in 2013. Apart from clinching the overall title, the Frenchman has also won the 2017 Junior class (for drivers aged under 25) with one more race to come.
The Audi pairing of De Phillippi and Mies in second place missed out on the race win by just 0.834 seconds. Last year’s champions fought their way up from P4 on the grid to make it onto the podium. With a spectacular overtaking move at the entrance to the Motodrom, Mies consigned to third place the Mercedes-AMG of Stolz and Ludwig which had started from the front row, thereby keeping alive Montaplast by Land-Motorsport’s chances of successfully defending their team title. The outfit, managed by Wolfgang Land and for whom De Phillippi and Mies drive, has a 15-point deficit on Callaway Competition.
Team75 Bernhard Porsche drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Michael Ammermüller took fourth place from Trophy winner Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart in their GRT Grasser Racing Team Huracán.
Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart driving a their Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracán won Round 14 of the campaign in one of the most dramatic races of the season. Behind, newly-crowned champion Jules Gounon and co-driver Daniel Keilwitz finished runners-up, which was enough to secure the team title for Callaway Competition and second place in the drivers’ championship for Keilwitz.
The Land Audi pairing of Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase took third place. “I can hardly believe it,” said race winner Ineichen after crossing the finish line. “This has been the toughest race of my entire career. We had to keep battling away until the very last minute.”
Pole-sitter Philipp Eng, BMW Team Schnitzer driving the only BMW in the field dominated the first stint of the final race and led until the driver handover, after which things got hectic up front. Rolf Ineichen took over the Lamborghini from partner Christian Engelhart in second place and proceeded to put pressure on Nick Catsburg who had taken over in the cockpit of the BMW M6 GT3.
Ineichen made multiple attempts to get past the lead car. Meanwhile, Porsche driver Robert Renauer Precote Herberth Motorsport and new champion Jules Gounon were closing in on the two race leaders. Renauer overtook Ineichen a short time later and attacked the BMW in P1 over the final few laps. The lead changed hands several times between the BMW and the Porsche until the very last lap when there was a contact between the two cars on the exit from the hairpin.
While Catsburg was able to continue and take the chequered flag in P1, Renauer dropped back as the result of a spin. Immediately after crossing the line, however, Catsburg was handed a 30-second time penalty for the contact with Renauer, and the BMW pair were classified 13th. That gave Engelhart and Ineichen, who had kept the Corvette of newly crowned champion Gounon behind them, their second win of the season. Ineichen also secured victory in the Trophy class for amateur drivers. For GRT Grasser Racing Team, it was a third win of the season.
Following their victory on theSaturday, Gounon and partner Daniel Keilwitz again finished on the podium, this time for finishing second overall and first in the Junior class. To get there, they had to mount a spectacular charge through the field from 14th on the grid. Keilwitz had already moved the Corvette up into fourth place by the time the driver handover came around. P2 in the race was enough to secure the team title for Callaway Competition, an achievement over and above their triumph in the 2017 drivers’ championship and Junior classification. Keilwitz, who had to miss six races because of a broken leg, still managed to come in second in the drivers’ championship behind team-mate Gounon.
Third place went to the Audi of Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase ahead of the fourth-placed Herberth Porsche duo of Robert Renauer and Sven Müller who had looked favourites to win at one stage. BWT Mücke Mike David Ortmann and Frank Stippler in an Audi finished fifth, their best result of the season. Ezequiel Perez Companc and Mirko Bortolotti were sixth in the second Lamborghini fielded by GRT Grasser Racing Team after being spun by an Audi during the opening laps of the race.