After a frustrating start to the season, Markus Pommer and Jeffrey Schmidt secured a first win of 2020 for the Corvette C7 GT3-R of Callaway Competition in Race 2 at the Sachsenring.
The duo were beneficiaries of a late penalty imposed on Grasser Racing Team’s Franck Perera and Albert Costa Balboa whose Lamborghini Huracán GT3 had led the field for most of the second stint.
Second place went to Team WRT’s Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor ahead of fellow Audi drivers, Rutronik’s Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde, who were delighted with third place as it restored their championship lead.
“At last, everything came together today,” said race winner Pommer at the finish. “Although we were actually quite competitive in the season opener at the Lausitzring, we’ve had a lot of bad luck in the last few races, with often just small things going wrong. But today, we finally had luck on our side again.”
Sunday’s race got off to an untidy start. Rutronik Racing Audi’s pole-sitter Dennis Marschall did not get away at all well, immediately dropping back to fourth place and allowing the Toksport WRT Mercedes-AMG of championship leader Maro Engel to move up into P1 followed by Albert Costa Balboa in the Lamborghini.
Meanwhile, there were a number of collisions in the chasing pack, which necessitated a safety car deployment to facilitate the removal of stricken vehicles.
When the race restarted on the fifth lap, Engel steadily drew away from the field, and by Lap 16, he had pulled out a lead on Costa Balboa of around five seconds. However, the German then spun off into the gravel as the result of a technical problem with his car and had to retire.
Costa Balboa now led the field until the driver handover. His partner Franck Perera subsequently remained in front but with only a small lead on Pommer in the Corvette which Jeffrey Schmidt had taken from sixth to third in the opening stint.
Pommer then put Perera under pressure for several laps but was unable to find a way past. However, as the race was drawing to a close, the stewards imposed a 30-second penalty on the Lamborghini race leader for an offence during the second safety car period. Costa Balboa and Perera were first over the line but finished tenth in the final classification because of the penalty, thereby handing Schmidt/Pommer and the Callaway Competition Corvette their first win of the season.
Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor finished second with a 3.4-second deficit, giving young Weerts his third victory in the Pirelli Junior classification.
Fellow Audi drivers Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde were third, just half a second down, but a result that was still good enough to take the defending champions back to the top of the points table.
Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi squad Max Hofer and Christopher Haase came fourth in another R8 LMS.
Behind them came Knaus-Team HTP-Winward’s Philip Ellis and Raffaele Marciello in the best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo ahead of Michael Ammermüller and Christian Engelhart in the top-performing Porsche 911 GT3 R from SSR Performance.
Henric Skoog and Jesse Krohn finished seventh in their Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, the best result to date for the BMW.
Carrie Schreiner and pole-sitter Dennis Marschall eventually crossed the line in eighth place with MRS GT Racing’s Eric Johansson and Jens Klingmann in P9.
Markus Pommer: “Jeffrey (Schmidt) had already laid the foundations for our good result in qualifying. The start went well for us too, although we actually thought that we would be at a disadvantage on the outside of the track. I was quicker than the Lamborghini at the beginning but was unable to get past. Towards the end, he was getting faster, and without the penalty, it would have been difficult for us to win.”
Jeffrey Schmidt: “A very good result, which is, of course, all the more gratifying as we have had a tough season so far. As early as qualifying, everything was going in our favour, we were able to set a good lap time and book ourselves a position near the front of the grid. After a lot of work this weekend, our Corvette had excellent grip and balance, which was clearly the basis of our good performance, both in qualifying and later in the race.”