In scorching conditions at the Nürburgring, Indy Dontje and Maximilian Buhk drove their Team HTP Mercedes-AMG to a first win of the season. The Grasser Lamborghini duo of Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli came second in the seventh of 14 ADAC GT Masters races.
And behind, Markus Pommer and Maximilian Götz completed a great day for Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport with a third place in their Mercedes-AMG.
“A great race for us,” said a jubilant first-time winner Dontje. “I am happy to have registered my maiden ADAC GT Masters victory. I hope to continue in the same vein two weeks from now in my home race at Zandvoort.”
Saturday’s race at the Nürburgring got off to a fast and furious start. On the first corner, Audi man Ricardo Feller accelerated through from sixth to get past the Zakspeed Mercedes AMG of pole-sitter Nicolai Sylvest and establish an immediate lead. The Swiss driver was followed through by the Mercedes-AMG of Indy Dontje and Maximilian Buhk, which had started from the front row, and by the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli, coming from ninth.
Feller continued to assert the lead until the driver changes midway through the race. But because he was judged to have jumped the lights in the flying start, the Audi duo were obliged to add five seconds to their mandatory pit stop.
As a result, Feller and Haase dropped back to third place. This allowed Nicolai Sylvest and Kim-Luis Schramm to briefly reclaim the front position they had earned in qualifying. However, Schramm was soon overtaken by the eventual winner Buhk, who then proceeded to open up a gap to the pursuing bunch and claim a comfortable first victory of the season. For Buhk, it was a first triumph in the ADAC GT Masters since the Lausitzring in 2014, while for his Dutch team-mate Indy Dontje, it was the first time ever.
A late collision between Schramm and the Grasser Lamborghini of Ezequiel Perez Companc and Franck Perera running second and third respectively, initially bequeathed second place to Feller and Haase. But following a investigation by the stewards, the Audi was subsequently handed a 30-second penalty for jumping the lights. This promoted Bortolotti and Caldarelli to second place.
Behind the Zakspeed Mercedes of Luca Stolz and Sebastian Asch was the best of the Porsche contingent, the KUS Team75 Bernhard Porsche of Timo Bernhard and Kévin Estre who crossed the line fifth.
It was a special occasion meanwhile, for sixth-placed Schubert drivers Christopher Dreyspring and Giorgio Maggi who were able to celebrate the first top 10 finish result in the series for the Honda NSX GT3.
Further down the order, it was a tough day for the championship-leading Callaway Corvette of Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz. The car collided with the ISR Audi of Filip Salaquarda and Frank Stippler at the start and were handed a drive-through penalty.
In Race 2, Team ISR scored its maiden victory in the ADAC GT Masters with Filip Salaquarda and Frank Stippler driving the Czech outfit’s winning Audi R8 LMS.
In the battle for second place, the Team HTP Mercedes-AMG pairing of Markus Pommer and Maximilian Götz edged out BWET Mucke’s Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock on the penultimate lap.
“What a great day”, said first-time winner Salaquarda. “To win a race in our first ADAC GT Masters season is really fantastic.”
It was a dominant performance from the Team ISR drivers. Frank Stippler, the local favourite from nearby Bad Münstereifel, had pulled out a gap of just under two seconds by the halfway point of the race when it was time for the driver changes. His partner, Salaquarda, subsequently extended their lead to 11.4 seconds at the finish line to secure the win.
Behind, the HTP Mercedes which finished second, scored vital points. Thanks to Pommer’s second podium finish of the weekend, he and Götz have now reduced their deficit on the championship leaders to a single point.
Two more BWT Mucke Audi drivers, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase finished fourth. Behind them came the Herberth Motorsport Porsche pairing of Robert Renauer and Mathieu Jaminet who beat Team75 Porsche drivers, Adrien de Leener and Klaus Bachler to fifth place. A sxith place finish was nevertheless the best result of the season so far for Leener and Bachler.
The current championship leaders, Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz meanwhile, had another rough time, and finished out of the points once again. Keilwitz got away well at the start, moving up from tenth to third, but had to retire his Corvette C7 GT3-R after 14 laps with a faulty alternator. Kirchhöfer and Keilwitz now lead by a single point after four of the seven race weekends.