Outstanding performance in their debut season in the ADAC GT Masters. BWT Mücke Motorsport secured third place in the team classification during the season finale of the Super Sports Car League at the Hockenheimring. Markus Winkelhock & Filip Salaquarda in the Audi R8 LMS #24, Mike David Ortmann & Frank Stippler in the Audi R8 LMS #25 and Stefan Mücke & Sebastian Asch in the Mercedes AMG GT3 #26 were the three pairs of drivers, who made this huge success possible in front of more than 18,000 spectators.
The weekend’s highlights
Third in championship at first attempt: It’s been barely 150 days since BWT Mücke Motorsport lined up for their first race in the ADAC GT Masters. The season finale at Hockenheim has now put the finishing touches to the team’s success story. With two wins this season and three podium finishes in all, the old-established Berlin-based outfit scored 152 points to book a sensational third place in the team competition in their debut season in the ADAC GT Masters – with the best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 in team and drivers’ standings of the entire field. In the 14 races held this season, other top drivers, namely, DTM stars Lucas Auer, Jamie Green and Edoardo Mortara and Audi R8 LMS Cup champion, Alessio Picariello also competed for BWT Mücke Motorsport alongside the squad’s regular crews.
Experience and youth conquer podium: There could not have been a better end to the season for the Audi R8 LMS #25. Mike David Ortmann and Frank Stippler finished fifth in the final round, achieving their best result of the season. Starting from seventh place, Stippler maintained his position before handing the car over to Ortmann. They gained a place thanks to a faultless pit stop. Ortmann turned in an error-free performance, crossing the finish line in sixth place. The Audi R8 LMS #25 was bumped up into P5 when the race winner was handed a retrospective time penalty. This top result gave them two reasons to celebrate. First, third place in the team championship was now assured, and second, Ortmann had achieved his maiden podium in the Junior stakes. Already that weekend, Ortmann and Stippler had made a sensational charge up the field in the first race. After a tricky qualifying session, the #25 started the race in 22nd place and finished in P14. The two drivers thus gained no less than eight positions in the highly competitive field of the ADAC GT Masters.
Four rings = eight points: Filip Salaquarda and Markus Winkelhock made a brilliant start to the Hockenheim finale. The pair of them in the Audi R8 LMS #24 posted a time of 1:39.299 minutes, the third-quickest of the practice sessions, and were perfectly placed for the weekend. Salaquarda confirmed their top performance with seventh place in qualifying for Saturday’s race, raising their hopes of a good points haul. The Czech driver drove an impressive race and handed the car over to Winkelhock in sixth place. The ex-Formula 1 and DTM driver pulled out all the stops in the end and maintained the position at the finish line – eight important points towards the team championship. However, they were out of luck in the second round of the weekend. Starting ninth on the grid, points were within reach until Winkelhock was pushed onto the grass by another competitor and lost several positions. They were hampered by brake problems as well, which also put a dampener on Salaquarda’s stint, and so, they finished out of the points in P17.
2 aces = 1 star: Sebastian Asch travelled to the Hockenheimring with the championship tantalisingly close. Stefan Mücke gave him his strong support in his attempt to win his third ADAC GT Masters title. The duo had to contend with 30-kg success ballast after the win by Asch and Mücke’s replacement, Edoardo Mortara, at the Sachsenring – a tough nut to crack. Asch qualified 18th for Saturday’s round, shot off like a rocket at the start to take P12. But, easy come, easy go. The race was stopped a short time later and restarted with the cars in their former positions. A contact with another car on his way to the front damaged the right front tyre and necessitated a pit stop. Mücke managed to gain a position after the change of drivers, but they were unable to do better than P19. That was sorted out on Sunday, though. Mücke started from twelfth place on the grid and was soon in the Top Ten after just one lap. However, there was a contact with another driver as he kept trying to push forwards, which damaged his radiator and brought his race to an early end. That meant a weekend without any points for the #26 – the only one of the season.
VIP guests: Some famous faces were spotted in the BWT Mücke Motorsport garage during the grand finale at the Hockenheimring. The Car Doctors! Hans-Jürgen Faul and Holger Parsch, who are well-known from VOX TV’s flagship programme about fixing cars, ‘auto mobil’, came to visit the old-established outfit from Berlin. They found out about how a professional racing team organises things, talked cars with the drivers and watched Saturday’s race live from the pits. “It was very exciting to spend the day with BWT Mücke Motorsport. They treated us like family, and we really felt at home,” said Hans-Jürgen Faul.
Comments about the weekend
Mike David Ortmann (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “It feels fantastic to have finished the final race with the result that we’d set our hearts on at the outset. I want to thank the whole team for that. Our car was great, and everyone did an excellent job. Things finally went the way they should have gone all season. I think we’ve often underperformed this year, because in actual fact, we always had the speed to be in the Top Ten. I aim to build on that in the future, for sure. Third place in the team standings in our very first year in the ADAC GT Masters is mega for us. The season could have been a little kinder to me and Frank, but I think we’ve shown that we were fast and made good progress.”
Frank Stippler (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “This was a terrific end to the season for me. Our race on Sunday went smoothly for the first time this year after eleven attempts. Mike often suffered a bit on the very first lap through no fault of his own, resulting in the loss of around four good results this year. I found it quite amusing to be the oldest driver in the whole field as I stood alongside Mike on the Junior podium. I’m actually the granddaddy of them all in the field and got a taste of what success feels like as a member of the older generation.”
Filip Salaquarda (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “This was certainly not the perfect end to the season for us. I did my best but had no chance to defend my position in Sunday’s race. I’m very pleased for the team that we finished third in our very first year. We are a new outfit and learned as we went along. And I also learned from the team, because this was my first year in the ADAC GT Masters. Things have worked out positively for all concerned, for both the team and me, and we got better with every race. Even if the results were not always perfect, the team spirit within the squad has been terrific. Everyone here works really well together. It’s been a good year for all of us, and the team has shown great potential.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “I had hoped for a bit more this weekend. The points for sixth place on Saturday were good and important for the team championship. The result makes up for Saturday to some extent. I struggled with understeer in qualifying, otherwise P5, 4 or even 3 might have been possible. I got a good start in the race but was pushed off onto the grass by another competitor and lost several positions. I was stuck behind another car after that, and some minor braking problems began to make themselves apparent in his slipstream. I handed the car over in ninth place, but the problems got worse, so Filip only finished 17th.”
Stefan Mücke (BWT Mercedes-AMG GT3 #26): “I was really looking forward to the ADAC GT Masters finale, but the weekend did not go according to plan for Sebastian and me, unfortunately. I couldn’t do anything at the rear of the field after the extra pit stop. We were well placed in P12 in the second race, and the speed of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 was OK. I finally decided to outbrake another driver on the left, but he pulled in sharply. Going around the outside was impossible. The radiator got damaged, and my race was over. From a team perspective, I’m obviously very pleased with third place in the championship. It’s really impressive to finish in the Top Three in our first season in such a close-fought race series.”
Sebastian Asch (BWT Mercedes-AMG GT3 #26): “We came to the Hockenheimring, still hoping to contend for the drivers’ title. Unfortunately, we had to struggle with 30 kg of success ballast after our win at the Sachsenring, which did not help in qualifying on Saturday. There was a contact in the race with a Lamborghini, unfortunately, and the subsequent change of tyre that proved necessary finally wrecked our chances. Stefan had a better qualifying on Sunday with P12. However, that race was soon over too after a contact shortly after the start. However, we still managed to finish the season as the best Mercedes-AMG GT3.”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “I would have thought you were joking if you’d said to me at the start of the season that we would finish third in the team classification. The ADAC GT Masters is a hard-fought series, and we’ve really earned this result. We had the advantage of deploying cars from two different manufacturers during the season, so there was almost always something to be pleased about. This weekend, it was the two Audis. The #24 impressed with P6 on Saturday, and then on Sunday, it was the turn of #25 with Mike and Frank. Mike’s speed has improved consistently, and he often performed well with Frank. They’ve finally now got their just rewards with P5 and the Junior podium. It was a tough weekend for our Mercedes. There was nothing we could do after damaging a tyre on Saturday, and the car was practically braked down to a total standstill on Sunday. We’ve seen the data, and Stefan’s ABS was already fully engaged and working, but there was nothing more he could do, as the other driver came right over.”
Matthias Kieper (Team Management): “The finale was a roller-coaster. We were battling for the drivers’ and team championships right up until the very last weekend of the season and would have liked to have won them both. But ultimately, our satisfaction at having had such a great debut season in the ADAC GT Masters makes up for that. We’re third in the team championship – a result that we as newcomers can be really proud of in such a high-calibre series. This success was only made possible through perfect teamwork. We’re going to have a little bit of a celebration and then start preparations for the 2018 season.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Director): “A long, action-packed season has finally come to an end with third place for us in the team classification at Hockenheim. We’ve gained a lot of experience and had a lot of fun. It’s a pity that our Mercedes was running 30 kg of success ballast here after its success at the Sachsenring. Our chances were not good in the first qualifying session as a result. Filip had a terrific quali in the Audi #24 and had a great result in the race with a P6 finish. None of our cars were carrying any ballast on Sunday, so it was all systems go! We had already experienced technical problems with the brakes on car #24 in qualifying – for the first time. We only had an hour between the quali, which began late, and the race, so we were unable to locate the problem and fix it. We started the race but soon realised that the brakes were not working as they should. The Mercedes had a contact right at the start. The radiator got damaged, and the car had to retire. Still, finishing the season with P5 for the Audi #25 and Mike’s Junior podium was just the ticket and what we needed. This was a great end to the season for the whole squad, who have done a fantastic job all year.”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C GmbH