Second season, new prospects: BWT Mücke Motorsport started their second season in the ADAC GT Masters last weekend in front of more than 25,000 spectators at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben. The three Audi R8 LMSs entered by the team are vying for success and glory in a scintillating field of 35 cars. The squad comprises the customary Mücke combination of youth and experience.
Driving the number 26 car were Jeffrey Schmidt and DTM star Jamie Green. The Englishman was standing in for regular driver Stefan Mücke, who was absent due to a clash of dates. Sharing the cockpit of the number 25 car were Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase. Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock were paired up in the number 24.
The highlights of the weekend
Maiden podium on debut: It was a strong opening performance from the Feller and Haase partnership in the number 25 BWT Audi R8 LMS. Starting from 14th place on Sunday, the duo fought their way through to finish in the Top Ten. Feller not only scored his first ADAC GT Masters championship point but also secured a maiden podium in the Super Sports Car League and a first podium of the campaign for BWT Mücke Motorsport. With the able assistance of Haase, Feller finished third in the Junior classification for drivers under 25 and got his first experience of a champagne shower. Haase and Feller had already impressed on Saturday with a strong charge through the field. Starting from 20th on the grid, Feller and Haase fought their way through a well-matched field to cross the line in eleventh, ultimately missing out on the points by the narrowest of margins.
DTM star + Junior = points: DTM star Jamie Green was making only his second ever ADAC GT Masters appearance for BWT Mücke Motorsport. The Englishman was standing in for regular driver Stefan Mücke, who had a prior commitment in the 24-hour Nürburgring qualifying race. Green and Schmidt in the number 26 BWT Audi R8 LMS scored points for eighth place on Saturday. Having started the race from tenth, Schmidt moved up into the Top Six. Unfortunately, a misunderstanding during the pit stop and a loss of approximately three seconds cost the team three positions. All the same, these were the first points for BWT Mücke Motorsport in the 2018 season. In the second race too, the duo looked set for a decent result until the pit stop. Due to a faulty time-keeping system, the number 26 car undershot the legal limit for the pit stop by 0.4 seconds. This inevitably led to a drive-through penalty and a lowly P26 finish.
Impressive charge: The weekend also started promisingly for Ortmann and Winkelhock in the number 24 kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS. In free practice, the duo refused to be thrown off their stride by red flags or by the onset of rain, completing both sessions in the Top Six – the sort of finish that they were aiming for in the actual races. Difficult conditions and heavy traffic in Saturday’s quali prevented Ortmann from posting the ideal lap, and he started the race from 17th place. He and Winkelhock gradually worked their way up to 14th in the course of the one-hour race. In the second race on Sunday, however, came another setback. Starting from 17th, Winkelhock was immediately involved in a collision with another car. He had to take evasive action, which dropped him back to 21st place. After the pit stop, Ortmann finished the race in a disappointing 16th position.
Comments on the weekend
Jamie Green (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “It was the first time since October that I’ve sat in a GT car. Unfortunately, due to other commitments, I wasn’t able to join everybody at Oschersleben for the official tests, so obviously I’m a bit short on actual track time. I knew that the first race weekend wasn’t going to be easy. Jeffrey did a great job on Saturday, but our driver change was not ideal. That cost us a place in the Top Six. Sunday didn’t go to plan for almost all the Audis, including us. Although we fought our way through to the front, the time spent by the car in the box during our driver change was a few tenths short of the minimum, which resulted in a drive-through penalty. That was a pity, of course, because we were going really well at that stage.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “Points in the season opener are always welcome and we’re happy to have scored them, of course. It was so tight in my quali that we could equally have come in the Top Three instead of in tenth place. In the race itself, I pushed hard towards the end of my stint to gain a few positions on the pit stop. Unfortunately, there was a bit of a misunderstanding, and so we ended up in eighth place. It was similar story on Sunday. When I took over in the car from Jamie, our pit stop system failed and we had to check the time manually. We were just out by 0.4 seconds, and the drive-through penalty effectively ended our race.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “Essentially, the weekend went well for Ricardo and me. You must never forget that there are 35 cars on the track in these ADAC GT Masters races. The qualifying sessions went OK, and the races even better. In the first race on Saturday, we narrowly missed out on the Top Ten, finishing in eleventh. On Sunday, things went really well. We not only finished in the points but also made it onto the Junior podium. Ricardo really earned this podium, because he is so fast out there. It was a solid start to the season. We still have some homework to do, but I’m feeling upbeat about the next race weekend at Most.”
Ricardo Feller (BWT Audi R8 LMS # 25): “We were hoping for a bit more from the start of the season, but the main thing is that we made the best of it. Many thanks to Christopher and to the entire team – each individual member of the crew did an excellent job. I am very happy to have secured my first Junior podium and my first championship point in the ADAC GT Masters. It’s a great feeling, and I hope there are many more to come. I am incredibly pleased to be competing for BWT Mücke Motorsport. We are one big family, and we all stick together.”
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “That was a pretty tough weekend for us. The qualifying conditions on Saturday were not easy, so it was difficult to get into a proper rhythm and post a clean lap. Unfortunately, we didn’t get much from the race itself either. On a track like the one at Oschersleben and with the field being so competitive this year, it’s almost impossible to overtake. In the second race, we weren’t much further up the grid either. After a contact with another car at the start, we fell back quite far. The pit stops worked very well overall, but we still have a lot to do before the next race.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “Just like last year, the start of the season has not been an easy one. We were obviously hoping for more. The car was pretty good, but if you’re starting from way back down on the grid, you’re effectively just there for the drive. The collision then dropped us even further back. We now need to put this one down to experience and focus on the next race!”
Team Principal Peter Mücke: “We achieved a great result with third place in the Junior classification on Sunday, but we’re obviously looking to improve. As expected, the weekend wasn’t easy, because the standard of this series is now so high. You can see from the number of fans coming through the gates that the ADAC GT Masters is one of the most important series in German motorsport. The field is consequently packed with works drivers. Unfortunately, there are now often two works drivers per car, which isn’t right, because we have to give the Juniors an opportunity. In my opinion, they should only allow one works driver per car, so that the youngsters have a chance. Otherwise, we’ll find someday that no new drivers are coming through.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “Our second season in the ADAC GT Masters has begun. When I look back at Oschersleben last year, a lot has happened since then. As a team, we’ve grown even closer together, and we have further optimised our procedures. The new drivers are already fully integrated into the team, and the balance is really great. We would obviously have liked better results in the season opener. At the same time, though, it’s such a strong field that we can’t complain about points from two races and a Junior podium.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Director): “The first race weekend unfortunately did not go as we had hoped. It was clear to us that the starting field had grown in terms of not only quantity but also quality. Due to the inclement weather in winter, some of our planned tests were literally washed out. Of course, that impacted on our preparations for the season. Our driver line-up is a strong one, as can be seen from Ricardo’s Junior podium in the second race. The new BoP [Balance of Performance] introduced this year has ultimately brought the field much closer together. There are very few performance differences between the manufacturers and the teams, which makes it incredibly difficult to get past the car in front. For that reason, I would say we’ve put on a respectable show, even though we didn’t quite achieve what we set out to.”
Source. Mücke Motorsport /Photo. Gruppe C Photography