This weekend’s race meeting at Red Bull Ring was the 100th for the ADAC GT Masters in its 14-year history.
ADAC GT Masters held its inaugural race at the Nürburgring on 8 June 2007 at the start of the GT3 era (pictured top) and since then has raced at 13 racetracks in six countries. The Nürburgring has staged the most meetings, 16 in all to date.
589 drivers have competed in the 198 races held so far.
One driver who took part in Race 1 also contested Race 200. Christopher Haase, pole-sitter and race winner from the inaugural event at the Nürburgring (pictured below right), is currently sixth in the standings and currently shares the drive in the Audi R8 LMS from Montaplast by Land Motorsport with Max Hofer.
34 different models from 19 manufacturers have been deployed so far. Vehicles with engines at the front or mid-engined cars have achieved 83 victories each in the 198 races to date. Racing cars powered by engines mounted at the rear, otherwise known as Porsche!, have triumphed 32 times.
Having taken 26 race wins, the first-generation Audi R8 LMS used from 2009 to 2015 is the most successful vehicle in the ADAC GT Masters history.
Callaway Competition is the longest-serving team in the series. The outfit from Leingarten in south-west Germany has been an integral part of the ADAC GT Masters since 2007.
Corvette, Porsche and Lamborghini are the only three manufacturers whose vehicles have competed in each of the 14 seasons and in every race.
Since 2007, plenty of famous names have competed in the ADAC GT Masters on a regular basis, including:
Six-time rally world champion Sébastien Ogier, downhill Olympic and world champion skier Patrick Ortlieb, ski-jumping star Sven Hannawald, Olympic bobsleigh champion Christoph Langen, Albert von Thurn und Taxis, he even won the driver’s title in 2010, the Thai prince Tunku Hammam Sulong and Bernhard van Oranje from the Netherlands, plus Brazilian film director Walter Salles. They all dared to face the challenge of the Super Sports Car League!
Sebastian Asch is the most experienced driver, having contested 171 races so far.
The fastest race in the ADAC GT Masters to date was Sunday’s round at Spielberg during the 2017 season with an average speed of 170.9 km/h, won by Christian Engelhart and Rolf Ineichen in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 from GRT Grasser Racing.
In 2008, driving a Lamborghini Gallardo, Albert von Thurn und Taxis and Christopher Haase won by the biggest margin in a rain-hit race at Assen, finishing a clear 55.285 seconds ahead of the competition. The narrowest victory, on the other hand, was achieved in 2015 by Dominik Baumann and Jens Klingmann in the BMW Z4 at the Sachsenring. They were a mere 0.126 seconds ahead of their rivals in second place.
In 79 of the 200 races, the eventual winner started from pole position.
124 different drivers, 43 teams and eleven brands have won at least one race in the ADAC GT Masters so far with Daniel Keilwitz (22 wins) leading the way in the drivers’ standings, Callaway Competition (34) ahead in the team stakes and Audi (43) best manufacturer.
Elia Erhart and Pierre Kaffer gained 26 places in 2018 on their way to victory on Sunday at the Sachsenring, making theirs the biggest charge up the field for a winning driver pairing.
Sweeping the board: 19 times a driver pairing has managed to win both rounds over a single ADAC GT Masters race weekend.
Kelvin van der Linde was the youngest race winner at Oschersleben in 2014, aged 17 years, 10 months and 7 days, and the oldest race winner was motor racing legend, Klaus Ludwig, at 58 years, 10 months and 13 days old. He won both races in a Corvette at the Nürburgring in 2008 together with Dominik Schwager.
13 ex-Formula 1 drivers have started in the ADAC GT Masters so far, including world championship runner-up Heinz-Harald Frentzen, Markus Winkelhock, Karl Wendlinger, Bernd Schneider, Jan Lammers and Mika Salo.
Twelve women have competed in the Super Sports Car League since 2007, two of whom, Claudia Hürtgen (7 wins) and Rahel Frey (2 wins), have managed to finish on the top step of the podium.
Three sets of brothers have achieved victory in the ADAC GT Masters: Jörg and Tim Bergmeister, Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck plus Kelvin and Sheldon van der Linde.
0.002 seconds decided the closest qualifying session in the ADAC GT Masters when Kelvin van der Linde won through at Oschersleben in 2014. Mirko Bortolotti achieved the same feat at the Nürburgring in 2019.
In 2020 at the Lausitzring, 31 vehicles were covered by just one second in Q2, making this particular qualifying the closest in series history.
So far, 20 drivers have won the ADAC GT Masters championship title. Four of them became sole champions because they lined up with different team-mates over the course of the season while drivers shared the championship in nine seasons. Sebastian Asch (2012, 2015) and Kelvin van der Linde (2014, 2019) are the only drivers to have won the drivers’ championship twice so far. No one has ever managed to successfully defend the ADAC GT Masters title.
Christopher Haase, ADAC GT Masters Champion 2007:
“Winning the very first race in a brand-new racing series is something that you will never forget. Nobody had been expecting Gianni Morbidelli and me to do that in the inaugural race of the ADAC GT Masters in 2007. It was a result that certainly gave a boost to my subsequent career.
Even though the field in 2007 wasn’t as big as it is today, there were already a lot of good drivers on the grid. Since then, the series has developed exponentially. Today, it is one of the best GT series in the world. There’s not a single GT driver who would pass up the chance to compete here. That’s why I’m very happy not only to have been part of the first race but still to be here for the 200th.”
Jules Gounon, ADAC GT Masters Champion 2017:
“The ADAC GT Masters was the chance of a lifetime. At the end of 2015, I had no budget left to continue racing. But then Ernst Wöhr and Giovanni Ciccone from Callaway Competition gave me the opportunity to test for their team at Hockenheim. The test went well, and afterwards, the pair of them invited me to drive for the team in the ADAC GT Masters.
That saved my career. I had two sensational seasons in the ADAC GT Masters. In the very first year, we won three races, and in 2017 we actually won the title. Without the whole Callaway team and the successes in the ADAC GT Masters, I would not be where I am today. It was only because of this that I got the chance to win the 24 Hours of Spa with Audi 2017 and then become a Bentley works driver. I will never forget the time. I would be very happy to compete in the ADAC GT Masters again.”
Sven Hannawald, contestant in the ADAC GT Masters from 2008 to 2011:
“The ADAC GT Masters was a career milestone for me. I’ve always been a motorsport fan, and when my ski jumping career came to an end, I drove in some one-make cup races. I was really delighted when my dear friend Axel Watter invited me to compete in the ADAC GT Masters. Initially, I only did a few guest starts, which made it difficult for me, as I lacked the driving experience. But in 2010, I was given a regular cockpit at Callaway Competition.
My team-mate was Thomas Jäger. He was an absolute team player and a superb driving instructor. I learned an incredible amount from him. I really enjoyed the time, even though I had to learn a lot in the beginning. Because unlike many others in the field, I had not taken up motorsport at a very young age. I soaked it up like a sponge and didn’t let the pressure get to me. That worked out well.
When I started to drive regularly, we had some great races. One of the highlights for me was the Sachsenring, where I finished on the podium for the first time as race runner-up. At Hockenheim, which was sort of like a home circuit for me, we also finished second. I will never forget that. I am still following the ADAC GT Masters today, and I am determined to attend the occasional race in the future.”
Robert Renauer, ADAC GT Masters Champion 2018:
“The progress the ADAC GT Masters has made is incredible. I made my debut in 2008 at the Lausitzring in a Cup Porsche fielded by Hermann Speck. At that time, it was all about having fun, and the results were of secondary importance. Today, the ADAC GT Masters is the highest level in GT3 sport that you can find. That is why we are very proud to compete in it with the success rate we’ve had. Winning the 2018 title with Mathieu Jaminet was something very special.
It’s nice that they’ve stuck with the original concept of having two drivers. It works so well. To share the car with a second driver at such a high level and celebrate success together is tremendously satisfying. Although the series is highly professional, there is still a real team spirit, much more so than if you were driving solo.”
Daniel Keilwitz, record ADAC GT Masters race winner and 2013 champion:
“I had won the FIA GT3 European Championship in 2010, so the switch to the ADAC GT Masters was a new step in my career. Because even then, it was already the best series in GT3 racing, both from a sporting perspective and in terms of media coverage. And since then, the level has continued to rise significantly. When the offer came from Callaway Competition, I didn’t have to think twice. The ADAC GT Masters was simply the next logical step.
It was and still is very important for me to be successful there. I have many great memories. Every victory was massive because not many drivers manage to be ADAC GT Masters winners. Obviously, the championship title in 2013 was very special, not least because we had come so close the year before. I was also very pleased that we were getting positive results right away in 2016 with the new Corvette C7 GT3-R. Second place at the Sachsenring 2019 was also fantastic, my first podium finish with Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing. It almost felt like a victory.”
Christian Abt, ADAC GT Masters champion as driver (2009) and as team principal (2010, 2013 and 2014):
“The years I spent in the ADAC GT Masters were my best years in motorsport. It was simply sensational in 2009 to win the championship at the first attempt. But the titles in 2010, 2013 and the championship double in 2014 with driver and team titles were also great. I am also very proud of what our drivers from those years have gone on to achieve. From the very beginning, we focused on young talent, that was very important to us.
The likes of René Rast, Kelvin van der Linde, Christopher Mies and Jens Klingmann have all made their way in motorsport and become successful works drivers. But it was also very satisfying to persuade a driver as prominent as World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier to compete in the ADAC GT Masters. Under Hermann Tomczyk’s guidance, the ADAC entered GT3 sport at an early stage and was a pioneer in this field.
It is great to see how the ADAC GT Masters has developed. The whole ADAC managerial team is doing a great job. I can only take my hat off to them. I wish the ADAC GT Masters much success in the future and that they remain true to their principles.”
Claudia Hürtgen, a seven-time race winner in the ADAC GT Masters:
“I have many fond memories of the ADAC GT Masters. I would obviously describe all of my race wins as career highlights. But my first two victories in the BMW-Alpina B6 at Oschersleben in 2009 were extra special. Together with Maxime Martin, we managed to win on both Saturday and Sunday, and this was on what has to count as my home track. Another highlight was my first victory with the BMW Z4 GT3 in the 2012 season finale at the Hockenheimring.
The car had the BMW motorsport sticker with ‘I M Claudia’ on the driver’s door. That made me very proud. I think that the ADAC GT Masters has become the strongest racing series in Germany over the last few years. It has a great starting grid with a wide variety of brands, and the standard of competition is incredible, often with less than a second separating the Top 20 cars.
For any driver, winning this championship has to count as a mega achievement. The format with two drivers also works great. The only route to success is teamwork plus perfection. In addition, the ADAC GT Masters is a hard but effective school for young drivers, because they can learn an incredible amount there.”
Maximilian Götz, 2012 ADAC GT Masters Champion:
“Congratulations to the ADAC GT Masters on the occasion of this 200th race and for running a terrific series. I personally lined up for my 100th race at the Red Bull Ring last year on Sunday and have competed in more than half of the races so far. I enjoyed every single one of them.
Of course, winning the 2012 title with Sebastian Asch was among the major highlights that I remember best. It was mega, but I’ve also had many other great moments with plenty of uncompromising action and close fights. I just missed the title twice – in 2013 and 2014, and we finished third in 2019. Those were great years too. However, missing the title in 2018 was the hardest knock I’ve ever had to take in motorsport, but still, it’s all part and parcel of racing.
If you ultimately want to finish on top in the ADAC GT Masters, you have to fight until the very last race, until the very last lap. The fact that the field is now so close speaks volumes for the quality of the series. I really enjoy competing in motor racing at this extremely high level.”
Christopher Mies, 2016 ADAC GT Masters Champion:
“For me personally, the high-water mark of my time in the series were the two seasons with Connor De Phillippi at Montaplast by Land-Motorsport in 2016 and 2017. We were very successful, winning the title in 2016 at the first attempt in the team’s debut season in the series. We narrowly missed out on another championship win the following year, but these two seasons were perhaps the best in the ADAC GT Masters for me, and not just because we did well.
I also had an extremely good rapport with Connor, which I’ve never really known with team-mates before or since, and that’s the reason why I look back so fondly on these two particular campaigns. It’s nice to see how the ADAC GT Masters has come on over the past few years. I think there’s even more that can be done in future, for example, to increase interest in the series among fans.
Unfortunately, spectator access is limited this year due to the corona pandemic, because proximity to the fans is one of the special features and strengths of the ADAC GT Masters. Usually, they are allowed into the paddock and the pits, which means they can get close to the cars and have a real feel for what’s going on. As drivers, we make time for them and have a chat, so I’m really looking forward to being able to do that again once it becomes possible.”
Jens Klingmann, nine-time ADAC GT Masters race winner:
“The ADAC GT Masters has played an important role in my career, as I’ve contested more than 100 series races to date. The extremely exciting and close races that take place every race weekend, with good and bad luck often going hand in hand, are what make the ADAC GT Masters so special for me.
There is no other race series that can match the ADAC GT Masters for its highly competitive field, in which you often have 23 cars covered by five-tenths of a second. You can put in a superb performance and finish tenth, but you might equally make it onto the podium. It’s a challenge that is very special, and it’s what makes the ADAC GT Masters so interesting. The close racing is exciting for spectators because almost anything can happen, but it’s also just as exciting for us drivers. What I find really great is that the ADAC GT Masters is one big happy family despite the tough competition and more than 30 entrants.
We’re not mates out on the track, but the absolute opposite is true off-track. I hope that the ADAC GT Masters will remain as competitive and continue to feature a large number of manufacturers so that it always be exciting for spectators. My personal wish for the future would be have a city circuit race and a night-time event. That would certainly make the series even more interesting.”
Sebastian Asch, ADAC GT Masters Champion 2012 and 2015 and driver with a record number of starts:
“It was a really big step up for me when I joined the ADAC GT Masters in 2008. I’d been in the SEAT Cup in a front-wheel-drive car and suddenly found myself racing a mid-engine, rear-wheel-drive GT sports car. Everything was new to me back then, but I settled in well and promptly finished fourth overall with Frank Schmickler.
I’ve been in the ADAC GT Masters ever since, except for 2009 when I contested the Porsche Carrera Cup. There have been many highlights over the years. Of course, winning the championships in 2012 and 2015 was quite a unique experience, especially the first one, as it came unexpectedly. We started the final weekend third in the standings and yet still managed to win the title. The ADAC GT Masters is a fascinating series with a great format.
There is an enormous variety of brands, with design concepts that are very different in terms of technology. The cars not only sound different but are also very distinct from a technical standpoint. They are racing cars that spectators can identify with, as they are based on proper road-going cars. In terms of sport, the series is simply the best. I hope that the ADAC GT Masters will always remain as varied and that it will continue to be a series with cars and drivers you can identify with because that’s what the fans really love.”
All pics courtesy ADAC GT Masters