After serving their apprenticeship in 2016, Aust Motorsport have established themselves as one of the strongest teams in the current ADAC GT Masters line-up. Following their maiden victory in the series at the Nürburgring, the Audi team are in with a chance of winning the title with two race weekends still to go.
A first series win, second place in the team standings and their lead pairing of Markus Pommer (26, DEU) and Kelvin van der Linde (21, ZA) placed third in the drivers’ championship – five weekends into the 2017 Super Sport Car League, Aust Motorsport have every reason to feel satisfied with their progress. Especially when compared to their debut season of 2016, when they could only manage three points-scoring results and their highest finish was a P6 at the Nürburgring.
“On the one hand, we’re benefiting from what we learnt in 2016, and on the other, we have also developed considerably,” says team principal Frank Aust. “We did a lot of experimenting and testing last winter, which is now paying off. Our understanding of the Audi R8 LMS is much better. As early as the pre-season tests at Oschersleben, we could see that we were on the right track. So we continued in the same direction. We also have a great working relationship with Audi. I am proud that we have such a strong partner at our side.”
Despite the significant improvement in performance and the maiden win at the Nürburgring, Aust is not fully satisfied with the season: “We were frequently out of luck up until the Nürburgring. We felt we could have been on the podium in the season opener at Oschersleben and that we were capable of winning in the rain at Zandvoort. Now, of course, we hope that our luck has changed.”
The team from Rietberg in North Rhine-Westphalia embarked on the 2017 campaign with an almost completely new squad. The only familiar face was Markus Pommer, who drove for them on two weekends last year. Co-driver Kelvin van der Linde as well as Dennis Marschall (20, DEU) and Patric Niederhauser (25, CH) in the sister car are all new to the team. “Markus Pommer and Kelvin van der Linde are obviously the standard bearers in our team,” says Aust. “With Kelvin being a former champion, his strong showing comes as no surprise. Thanks to him, Markus has developed strongly this year and has taken a giant step forward. Dennis and Patric have also acquitted themselves well, especially at the Nürburgring, where they twice finished in the Top Five. As a newcomer from the Audi Sport TT Cup, Dennis obviously found it hard going at first. But he’s gradually getting into his stride and is doing a great job overall. Patric did not have an easy year driving a Lamborghini in 2016, but he is also rapier quick and has settled in well with us. At Oschersleben, he was the best Audi driver in Sunday’s qualifying. So both cars have top driver pairings this year.”
After the victory at the Nürburgring, Pommer and van der Linde are 46 points adrift of championship leader Jules Gounon (22, FRA, Callaway Competition), with 100 points still to play for. Meanwhile, Aust Motorsport are 37 points behind top team Callaway Competition. So does the boss still see them in with a chance of a title or two? “We’re looking forward to the next two races at the Sachsenring. It’s a track that suits the Audi, so we should be able to reduce the deficit there. As for Hockenheim, we’ll have to wait and see. I’m not sure if we’re capable of winning there. But you never know what might happen. We’ve not given up yet, but it’s going to be difficult. I would feel satisfied after the final weekend if we were among the Top Three.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters/Photo. ADAC Motorsport