Written for and published by Prescott Motorsport.
Images courtesy of ADAC GT Masters.
After their first corner elimination on Saturday, Frank Stippler and Filip Salaquarda made the best possible comeback: putting their #33 Team ISR Audi R8 on Pole for race 8 on Sunday and scoring an undisputed victory. Saturday’s winners Maxi Buhk and Indy Dontje had to start from the back, after issues prevented them from setting a time in early morning qualifying.
At the start, Stippler took full advantage of his Pole Position, leading the field through the first corners, closely followed by the orange and white #24 Mücke Motorsport Audi R8 of Winkelhock and Ortmann, the #47 HTP Motorsport Mercedes AMG of Maxi Götz and, quite amazingly, the #1 Callaway Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz which started as far back as 11th. Three turns later, he even managed to pass Götz for 3rd place.
Although there were numerous offroad excursions by a multitude of cars, no severe casualties were noted except the #12 Audi R8 of Dries Vanthoor and Spengler, who spun out in the chicane, and Lucas Luhr being collected by the #42 BMW M6 of Timo Scheider in turn 1, the latter receiving a drive-through for causing a collision.
Meanwhile, yesterday’s winner Maxi Buhk had a great start of the race, managing to gain no less than 10 places in the first two laps, resulting in a 25th position by the end of lap 2.
After the first couple of laps, a leading group of five to six cars developed with a 2,5-3 seconds gap to the rest of the field. Stippler still led, followed by the second R8 of Winkelhock, the #1 Callaway Corvette, Götz in the #47 yellow green Mercedes, the #25 Audi R8 driven by Chris Haase and the first of the Porsche’s: the #99 Precote 911 of Mathieu Jaminet.
At times, it was just like watching a part of the late Total 24hrs of Spa, just on a different track. For example when Kevin Estre in his #17 Porsche 911 chased down the two Montaplast Land Motorsport R8’s, driven at that time by Jake Dennis and Kelvin van der Linde. Their battle for 9th lasted several laps, with numerous changes of position.
Some 15 minutes into the race the top 10 looked they were preparing for the upcoming pitstop-window at 25 minutes into the race. Still leading was Frank Stippler in the #33 Audi and the rest of the top 10 following with 1 to 2 seconds between each car.
Right before the opening of the pitstop window, the #1 Callaway Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz had to come into the pits with an obvious issue; the car severely losing speed and crawling towards its pitbox. The team had to retire the car again, after their race ended in tears after the lap 1 incident yesterday as well.
The first car from the top 10 to take its obligatory 70 seconds pitstop was the #28 Montaplast Audi R8 of Kelvin van der Linde. The team didn’t time the stop exactly right, going well over the 70 seconds minimum by almost 4 seconds. The #26 Audi of Stefan Mücke managed to get past in pit lane. A lap after, the #24 and #25 Audi’s came in for their pitstop, closely followed by the #99 Porsche of Jaminet, the three leaving the pits in the same order. Next, it was Stippler switching seats with Salaquarda, coming out of the pits virtually still in the lead. Finally it was the #47 Mercedes of Götz coming in for a driver change, being replaced by Marcus Pommer. Timing was of the essence as the #33 Audi managed to come out of pitlane after 70.5 seconds. The HTP team stood their ground, managing to get the car out in just 70.6 seconds, however that wasn’t enough to stay out in front: they rejoined in 3rd position, having to let the #24 Audi retake 2nd place as well.
After the pitstops there now was a clear top five, having a couple of seconds gap to the rest of the field and with 1 to 2 seconds between them. The #33 Audi R8 still led, now with Salaquarda at the wheel, followed by the #24 Audi R8 driven by Mike David Ortmann, the #47 Mercedes AMG with Marcus Pommer, #25 Audi R8 of Ricardo Feller and #99 Porsche 911 of Robert Renauer.
The march through the field of yesterday’s winner, the #48 Mann Filter Mercedes AMG, now driven by Indy Dontje, was halted a bit; now in 19th position after the pitstops.
Where Salarquarda, now with a 7 second lead over Ortmann 15 minutes before the finish, was more or less safe if he could stay out of trouble, as was the rest of the top 5, an interesting battle developed for place 6 to 11. Remo Lips in the #4 Audi R8 was closely followed by the #18 911 of Adrien de Leener, the #29 Audi of Jake Dennis, the other Team 75 Bernhard #17 911 of Timo Bernhard himself, the #26 Audi with now Jeffrey Schmidt driving and the #28 Montaplast Audi R8 with Sheldon van de Linde. Between the #4 Audi in 6th and the #28 Audi in 11th was only 2 and a bit seconds.
Two minutes later, the order was shuffled completely. Remo Lips dropped down the order to 11th, Jake Dennis was now 6th, and even Luca Stolz in the #21 Zakspeed AMG joined the fight, now in 10th position. He did not plan on finishing 10th however, and took the fight to the Audi of Sheldon van der Linde in front. In a fight that lasted several laps, Stolz eventually succeeded in passing the Montaplast Audi with a move that started in the NGK-chicane and lasted as far as the first corner.
Immediately after, attention switched to the cars right behind. Philip Ellis in his Phoenix R8 caught up to almost the bumper of Sheldon van der Linde, but needed to focus on his rear view mirror where Jeffrey Schmidt in another R8 and Dominik Schwager in the Ferrari appeared life-sized. The fight lasted all the way to the end, though Ellis managed to hold on to his position and finished 11th.
As a dessert, a fight for the “best-of-the-rest”-title emerged when Marcus Pommer in the #47 HTP Mercedes AMG caught up to Mike David Ortmann in his Mücke Motorsport R8. After luring at its prey for a lap or three, Pommer decided to make a move, positioning himself right before the NGK-chicane, and making use of a less than ideal exit of the Audi, passing him in the last corner for the start-finish straight. The extra points that came with 2nd place brought Götz and Pommer within 1 point of Keilwitz and Kirchhöfer in the overall standings (86 and 85 points). The duo Mathieu Jaminet and Robert Renauer in the Porsche 911 will arrive in next rounds’ host Circuit Zandvoort on a respectable distance of 14 points (72).