Callaway Competition pair Markus Pommer and Marvin Kirchhöfer took the first race win of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters at Oschersleben in a rain-affected race on Saturday.
The #77 Corvette C7 GT3 came home ahead of the #31 HCB-Rutronik Racing Audi of Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde with another R8 LMS GT3, this time the #25 BWT Mücke Motorsport car of Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase completing the podium. ”A dream start,” said Markus Pommer. “We were aiming for a place in the Top Five and certainly weren’t expecting to actually win.”
Up until the round of mandatory pit stops, the opening race was effectively a contest between two drivers: pole-sitter Marvin Dienst in the #26 Schütz Motorsport AMG GT3, who successfully defended his position to maintain the lead, and #13 RWT Corvette man Corvette man David Jahn who moved up from fourth on the grid to take second place on the first lap.
Separated by just under half a second, the two of them reeled off the laps while gradually drawing away from the rest of the field. Their lead on the car in third place was around seven seconds when the pit stop window opened, the pair still leading when team-mates Aidan Read and Sven Barth had taken over.
The battle developed into a three-way contest just a few laps after the pit stops. Eventual race winner Marvin Kirchhöfer took over the Callaway Corvette in fifth place from team-mate Pommer and moved up into third place, able to close the gap on the two leading cars after posting a succession of hot laps.
Rain began to fall with less than ten minutes to go before the end, causing positions at the front to change hands several times. Barth and Kirchhöfer briefly made contact with six laps to go. Barth ran over the wet kerbs, as a result, spun and dropped out of the leading group.
On the next lap, Kirchhöfer also passed Aidan Read in P1 to move into first place on a track that was continually getting wetter.
Kelvin van der Linde also seized the chance to overtake and slipped past the Australian to take P2.
The first two positions were now effectively in the bag. With a lead of 3.6 seconds, Pommer and Kirchhöfer secured victory leaving van der Linde and Patric Niederhauser to take the runner-up spot.
Meanwhile, series newcomer Aidan Read had a battle on his hands with two other Audi R8 LMSs in the closing stages. In the end, the man from Perth and his partner Dienst had to settle for fifth place as Christopher Haase surged past, followed by Dries Vanthoor in the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi that he shares with Ricardo Feller.
Sixth place went to defending champion Robert Renauer and his new team-mate Thomas Preining in the #1 Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R. Preining impressed with a combative stint in which he gained five positions. In seventh place was the second Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of Max Hofer and Christopher Mies, ahead of Corvette drivers Jahn and Barth.
Mann-Filter Team HTP AMG pair Indy Dontje and Maximilian Götz mounted a charge from 23rd on the grid to finish ninth with the HB Racing Ferrari of Luca Ludwig and Sebastian Asch promoted to tenth after the #99 Propeak Performance Aston Martin of Maxime Martin and Daniel Keilwitz was disqualified for having an incorrectly installed fire extinguisher on board.
Markus Pommer: “I had a very good start, but I was unable to get past Patric Niederhauser on the inside. That’s why I held back because it’s important to reach the end of the race without getting involved in any incidents. The weather towards the end played into our hands. Marvin is very strong in the rain. I have already had wins with Audi and Mercedes-AMG in the ADAC GT Masters, but never in the very first race, as I have now in a Corvette.”
Marvin Kirchhöfer): “I’m very happy. Last year we scored two ducks here at Oschersleben, so with this first race alone, we’ve already done a better job. The race was a bit chaotic. I’m really sorry for the second Corvette, which was so well placed before it had a spin. It was a misunderstanding with Sven Barth. I think he wanted to let me past but went a bit too far wide onto the kerbs. With the rain having got heavier at this stage, it was very slippery and he spun. I drove in a wet race at Monza last weekend, so the conditions today didn’t come as a shock to the system. I’m used to the rain. During my time in Formel ADAC, I drove here at Oschersleben in changeable weather and always managed to cope quite well. So in the end, it was a bit easier for me to go on the attack and overtake.”