Rain in Zandvoort – conditions that appear to especially suit Audi in the Super Sports Car League. Defending champions Connor De Phillippi (24, USA) and Christopher Mies (28, DEU) registered a first win of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters for the brand with the four rings since an Audi won the equivalent fixture last year in the North Sea dunes. In a tumultuous race, runners-up Jeffrey Schmidt (23, CH) and Christopher Haase (29, DEU) made it a one-two win for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport. Third place went to Florian Spengler (29, DEU) and Christopher Zanella (27, CH, both HB Racing) in a Lamborghini Huracán. “That was hard day’s work,” said winner Mies. “It’s a success that’s been a long time coming.”
Key facts, Zandvoort, Round 8 of 14
Length of track: 4,307 metres
Weather: 16°C, rain
Pole Position: Mirko Bortolotti (GRT Grasser-Racing-Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3), 1:35.329 mins
Winners: Connor De Phillippi and Christopher Mies, Audi R8 LMS
Fastest lap: Nick Catsburg (BMW Team Schnitzer, BMW M6 GT3), 1:49.338 mins
Götz dominates first half of the race
It became clear to spectators as the rain set in just before the start of the eighth race of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters that they were about to witness a spectacular encounter. After the retirement of pole-sitter Mirko Bortolotti (27, ITA, GRT Grasser Racing Team) with a technical issue on Lap 4 while in the lead, the first stint of the race was dominated by Mercedes AMG driver Maximilian Götz (31, DEU, Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport), who was able to pull out a lead of more than 17 seconds at times. Positions behind him were changing constantly on the rain-soaked track. The first of four safety car deployments came about when Lamborghini driver Christian Engelhart (30, DEU, GRT Grasser Racing Team) and Kelvin van der Linde (21, ZA, Aust Motorsport) in an Audi collided while scrapping for P3. The ensuing mandatory round of pit stops mixed the field up once again. After Götz’s partner, Patrick Assenheimer (25, DEU), skidded off track when lying in fifth place, Audi man Jeffrey Schmidt (23, CH) took the lead and defended P1 until the third-to-last lap. His team-mate Connor De Phillippi in the second Audi entered by Team Montaplast by Land-Motorsport overtook him and secured the first win of the season for himself and partner, Christopher Mies, who had handed the car over in sixth place. Schmidt booked P2 and victory in the Junior standings.
Florian Spengler and Christopher Zanella took P3 behind the two white-and-green Audis to finish on the podium for the first time this season. They were followed home by Robert Renauer (32, DEU) and Sven Müller (25, DEU, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) in P4 in the best-placed Porsche 911. Truly remarkable is that the Lamborghini and the Porsche had started the race from P17 and P18 respectively. Porsche drivers Mathieu Jaminet (22, FRA) and Michael Ammermüller (31, DEU, both KÜS Team75 Bernhard) also lined up outside the Top Ten on the grid but still managed to finish fifth.
Current championship leader Jules Gounon (22, FRA) and Renger van der Zande (31, NL, both Callaway Competition) standing in for his regular co-driver, finished the rain-affected race in sixth place. Van der Zande took the first stint and had fought his way up into P2 before it was time to hand the car over, but a drive-through penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane dropped the pair back down the field. Two more Audi crews, Dennis Marschall (20, DEU) partnered by Patric Niederhauser (25, CH, both Aust Motorsport) and Mike David Ortmann (17, DEU) sharing a cockpit with Frank Stippler (42, DEU, both BWT Mücke Motorsport) subsequently slotted into P7 and P8 respectively. The Porsche driven by Klaus Bachler (25, A) and Alex MacDowall (26, GB, both Schütz Motorsport) and the Mercedes AMG driven by Luca Stolz (21, DEU) and Luca Ludwig (28, DEU, both Mercedes-AMG Team ZAKSPEED) took the last two points-scoring positions.
Comments from the winners
Connor De Phillippi (Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): “The car was really fantastic in the final stages. We increased the air pressure during the pit stop, which paid off. The Audi was then very strong, especially when braking, which allowed me to gain some positions. I am very happy for the team. Our race engineer has a birthday today, and this win is the perfect gift.”
Christopher Mies (Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): “We had gambled on drying conditions and lowered the air pressure before the start. When we then set off on the formation lap, I just thought, oops, that was probably not the right choice. There was a lot of aquaplaning. For the first few laps, I was simply trying to survive out there. Towards the end of my stint, the car was getting better, and I was able to hand it over in sixth place.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters/Photo. ADAC Motorsport