It will be a mix of happiness and sadness in the Grasser Racing Team post-race briefing. The #19 pole sitter managed to maximize result from his grid position, while the second placed #63’s race didn’t last longer than two turns after contact with that very same #19 Lambo. Championship leaders Kirchhöfer and Keilwitz couldn’t get their Corvette C7.R to work on the Dutch track of Zandvoort: an inglorious 17th position was their share.
It was an all Lamborghini front row at the first race of ADAC GT Masters at Zandvoort, where the #19 GRT Húracan with Perez-Companc and works driver Marco Mapelli secured Pole Position. It was the first time Perez-Companc placed the Lambo in front, and the first Argentinian in the series to do so. The sister-car of Bortolotti and Caldarelli was 2nd on the grid. The 2nd row was locked out by one team as well, as the #29 Montaplast Audi of Jake Dennis and Chris Mies was joined by the #28 of the van der Linde brothers. Championship leaders Keilwitz and Kirchhöfer were only 18th on the grid as they couldn’t get their Corvette C7.R to work on the circuit, simply missing a bit of speed. 2nd in the standing Maxi Bühk and Indy Dontje did a little better in their Mann Filter Mercedes AMG GT3, qualifying in 11th.
The turmoil right after the rolling start claimed one victim at the first turn, Tarzan Corner: the AMG with Nicolai Sylvest at the wheel lost control after a slight contact at the rear and went straight into the gravel. But drama really struck one corner later, where Perez-Companc in 1st and Bortolotti in 2nd went into the tight corner side-by-side, but only Perez-Companc made it out. The latter, who had a slight advantage going into the corner, was tapped on the right rear by his teammate as he left too little room for both cars; a typical race incident. He consequently spun out and went straight into the tire barrier, race ended. As the tire barrier was close to the track, and there was now an orange-green Lamborghini between the two, the Safety Car was called on track.
Three laps later, the Safety Car came in and the field was loose again. The #19 Lambo was in front, followed by no less than 4 Audi R8’s: two of the Land Motorsport team a Mücke Motorsport car and a Phoenix Racing R8. In sixt was the first and only Ferrari 488 shadowed by the #17 Team 75 Bernard Porsches with Timo Bernhard himself at the wheel. The Schnitzer M6 GT3 was in 8th, both Mann Filter AMG’s in 9th and 10th. Maxi Buhk and Indy Dontje were set to overtake the lead in the championship, as the Callaway Corvette of Kirchhöfer and Keilwitz were still outside the points.
It only lasted one corner before disaster struck again as the #42 M6 with Mikkel Jensen at the wheel managed to make contact with two cars in one corner: first he drove into the rear of the Ferrari 488 and next he forced the #17 911 to take an off road excursion through the gravel. The Ferrari could rejoin, though in last position, the 911 made it back to the pits but had to retire the car there.
After 25 minutes the pit-window opened and the top-3, the GRT Lamborhini of Perez-Companc and the Land Audi’s of Dennis and Sheldon van der Linde had a 5 second gap to the other two Audi’s, the M6 of Jensen and local hero Indy Dontje in his #48 AMG who caught up to the rear of Jensen.
First of the leaders to come into the pits were Perez-Companc, handing the wheel over to Marco Mapelli, and Sheldon van der Linde giving his seat to his brother Kelvin. The is a minimum pit stop duration in ADAC GT of 70 seconds, and it’s all about timing it to perfection to loose as little time as possible. Best job was done by the Grasser Racing Team, getting the Lambo back on track after 70.3 seconds, while it took the Land Motorsport Team half a second more.
Jake Dennis, now in the lead, chose to drive on an extra lap trying to profit from the fact he had no traffic in front of him. His tactic didn’t meet it’s goal as he came out in 3rd again, not helped by the fact it took the team 71.9 seconds to get the car back on track.
After the pit-window-close, the field was still lead by the #19 Lambo of Mapelli, followed by the two Land Motorsport Audi’s who switched position (the ‘van der Linde’-car now in 2nd), the other Audi’s of the Phoenix and Mücke teams, but now the two Mann Filter AMG’s who both managed to overtake the M6 of with now Timo Scheider at the wheel in the pits. The top-3 had a 15 second lead over the second group.
Some twenty minutes before the end of the race, things really started to heat up in the second group. Winkelhock put the pressure on Ellis, while Götz also started to crawl into the gearbox of his teammate Buhk. In the meantime, Rolf Ineichen in his Húracan and Mathieu Jaminet in the 911 also joined the party.
The first move was made by Markus Winkelhock, who, with some pulling and pushing managed to get by Ellis at Tarzan Corner. Winkelhock immediately pulled a gap to his brand colleague, and Maxi Buhk was planning on letting the Audi get away. He made a move a little early and it ended in tears. As there was only a very small gap, which Ellis rightfully closed, he lost control of his AMG and made a one-eighty spin, facing the wrong way after the car came to a halt. He finally rejoined in 28th position.
The train behind Ellis, who was missing a little speed in this phase of the race, slowly started to grow. Behind him was now Marcus Pommer in the only remaining Mann Filter AMG in 6th, followed by Timo Scheider in the M6, the Lambo of Ineichen, Dries Vanthoor who caught up in his R8 in 9th, with Christopher Haase in another R8 and the #99 Porsche 911 of Jaminet right behind. Pommer, 2nd in the championship standings together with Maxi Götz, had a good chance of overtaking the lead in the championship, as Kirchhöfer/Keilwitz were only in 17th.
With 12 minutes to go, Vanthoor was the first to make another move in Tarzan Corner. Ineichen managed to counter which ended in some lawn mowing activity for Vanthoor. He rejoined the track right after the green Lamborghini. One lap later his move in the Hans Ernst-corner, the only chicane on track, did end in success; he was now in 8th. Next up was the M6 of veteran Timo Scheider. Vanthoor didn’t waste any time; one and a half lap later he maneuvered his R8 to the rear of the M6 in the first corner and with a little kiss on its rear bumper took 7th. Ineichen managed to follow half a lap later, setting Scheider back to 9th. At the same time, in the same corner, Jaminet managed to pass Haase for 10th.
The excitement in the second group almost made us forget about the fact that in the meantime Kelvin van der Linde closed the gap to Mapelli in front to only 6 tenths of a second, with under three minutes to go. Also, Dries Vanthoor who was already well away of the Lambo of Ineichen and caught up to the Mercedes of Götz, was penalized for pushing the M6 of Scheider a couple of laps before. He had to give the position back, basically a 5 second time penalty.
The last two laps Kelvin van der Linde tried, but did not succeed in passing the #19 Lambo with Mapelli at the wheel. This gave the debutant a victory in his first race, just like his co-driver Perez-Companc. Chris Mies came in third, Winkelhock 4th, Ellis managed to keep Götz behind and finished 5th. Vanthoor waited to the very last moment, last corner, to give position back to Timo Scheider while trying to not loose any more to the cars right behind. He succeeded, finishing in 8th, Ineichen and Jaminet completed
the top 10.
The sixth place of Pommer and Götz gave them the lead in the standings, as Kirchhöfer/Keilwitz finished only 17th. They now have a 7 points lead. Renauer and Jaminet who scored one point with their 10th position, follow 12 points behind Kirchhöfer and Keilwitz.
For full results click here.
For championship standings click here.