The ADAC GT Masters season continued last weekend with a brief trip to the Netherlands to race at Circuit Park Zandvoort. There the title race resumed and produce some entertaining action. Grasser Racing and Land Motorsport took the victories, as the title battle raged on.
It was a strange weekend for the title race, between current championship leaders, Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde (HCB Rutronik Racing) and Markus Pommer and Marvin Kirchhöfer (Callaway Competition).
Niederhauser and van der Linde their least productive weekend of the campaign at Zandvoort, with a meagre eight-point haul. Meanwhile, their pursuers fared even worse and scored no points at all. The net result was that the HCB Rutronik Racing duo actually increased their points cushion at the top of the table to 18.
Grasser beats Team75 Bernhard to secure victory in Race 1
There was high drama on the Dutch North Sea coast as the seventh ADAC GT Masters race of the season at Zandvoort was won by the narrow margin of 0.365 seconds. In a thrilling race, Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart’s Orange1 by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo beat off a strong challenge from Team75 Bernhard drivers Timo Bernhard and Klaus Bachler. Third place went to Michele Beretta and Marco Mapelli in another Orange1 by GRT Grasser Lamborghini.
“We’ve worked hard for this,” said Bortolotti. “It feels really good to win here. It was about time that we returned to winning ways.”
Pole position, lights-to-flag victory and fastest race lap might suggest that Mirko Bortolotti and Christian Engelhart had everything under control as they took their first win of the season, but the Lamborghini pairing had a fight on their hands right through to the last few metres.
Bortolotti started from pole position in sunny but gusty conditions and successfully asserted his lead. He then went on to pull out a gap of just over four seconds on the pursuing bunch, but the cushion was nullified by the deployment of the safety car twice within the space of a few laps for the recovery of stricken vehicles. His partner Engelhart took over at the mandatory pit stop and retained the lead but immediately came under pressure from the Porsche driven by Timo Bernhard and Klaus Bachler. Meanwhile, Michele Beretta and Marco Mapelli in the second of the two Orange1 by GRT Grasser Lamborghinis were closing in, ready to pounce. Bachler attacked Engelhart several times during the closing stages of the race but was unable to pass.
The Lamborghini man eventually took the chequered flag by the narrow margin of 0.365 seconds. It was the first win of the season for the Italian brand and the first ever triumph in the ADAC GT Masters for the new Huracán GT3 Evo. It was also win number ten for Engelhart in the Super Sports Car League and number four for co-driver Bortolotti.
Bernhard and Bachler followed close behind to notch up their second P2 finish of the season. Beretta and Mapelli were third with a deficit of just under 1.8 seconds on the winners at the finish line. It was their first podium of the season and Beretta’s maiden victory in the Pirelli Junior class for young drivers under 25.
Fourth place went to Mücke Motorsport’s Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock, the best of the Audi contingent. They finished ahead of Max Hofer and Christopher Mies’ Land R8 LMS. The only BMW in the field, from MRS GT Racing, was sixth.
Championship leaders Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde meanwhile, finished 17th and therefore out of the points. But their closest rivals also failed to score. Markus Pommer and Marvin Kirchhöfer were forced to retire their Callaway Corvette C7 GT with ignition problems but nonetheless retain their runner-up spot.
Land Audi 1-2 in Race 2
The Land Motorsport Audi pairing of Ricardo Feller and Dries Vanthoor put in a superb performance to pull off a maiden ADAC GT Masters victory in Sunday’s race at Zandvoort, crossing the line just ahead of their team-mates Max Hofer and Christopher Mies. Partnered by Philip Ellis in a Team HTP Mercedes-AMG, series newcomer Fabian Vettel, the brother of four-time Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel, made his first podium appearance.
“Mega!” said race winner Feller. “I’ve had a three-year wait to get onto the top rung of the podium. To have accomplished this at long last is an amazing feeling. I’m just incredibly happy.”
Pole-sitter Christopher Mies set the pace upfront during the first stint of the race. The 30-year-old driver asserted his lead at the start ahead of team-mate Dries Vanthoor and third-placed Philip Ellis in the Mercedes-AMG. Mies remained ahead on the laps that followed but was unable to pull away from his pursuers. The Top Three were covered by just 1.8 seconds when the Audi Sport driver came in for his mandatory pit stop on Lap 17 and handed over to partner Max Hofer. Vanthoor and Ellis stayed out for two further laps after Mies before making their respective stops. It was a decision that paid off, as their co-drivers, Ricardo Feller and Fabian Vettel, subsequently emerged ahead Hofer, dropping him down to third place.
Posting one hot lap after another, Feller extended his lead to as much as 3.5 seconds at times. Vettel meanwhile found himself coming under pressure from Hofer. With ten laps to go, Hofer passed the ‘Mamba’ yellow Mercedes-AMG driven by Vettel to take second place. He was able to reduce the deficit on his team-mate over the ensuing laps, but it was ultimately not enough to challenge for the win. Feller was the first to take the chequered flag by a winning margin of 2.4 seconds. As a result, he secured maiden victories in the ADAC GT Masters for himself and Vanthoor, who had driven the first stint.
By finishing runners-up, Mies and Hofer ensured a one-two win for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport. Third place went to Philip Ellis and Fabian Vettel. On only his eighth ADAC GT Masters outing, rookie Vettel made it onto the overall podium for the first time.
Fourth place went to Rolf Ineichen and Franck Perera’s Orange1 by GRT Grasser Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo. With P5, Luca Stolz and Maro Engel secured a top-five result for ADAC GT debutant Toksport WRT and its Mercedes AMG GT3, which was forced to retire from Race 1 with damaged power steering. Saturday’s winners, Christian Engelhart and Mirko Bortolotti came home just 0.2 seconds behind, taking sixth place ahead of their Orange1 by GRT Grasser team-mates, Michele Beretta and Marco Mapelli.
Down the order in ninth, it was another tough outing for championship leaders Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde. However, these points were enough for the latter to marginally increase their lead in the overall standings, as their closest rivals, the Corvette pairing of Markus Pommer and Marvin Kirchhöfer, finished a lowly 20th after being handed a drive-through penalty for a pit stop that was cut too short.
Photos courtesy of ADAC GT