Next weekend (27th – 29th April), the ADAC GT Masters will make its debut in the Czech Republic. The second race weekend of the season will take place at Autodrom Most northwest of Prague. The Audi pairing of Max Hofer (18, AUT) and Philip Ellis (25, GB, both Phoenix Racing) and the Lamborghini duo of Mirko Bortolotti (28, ITA) and Andrea Caldarelli (28, ITA, both ORANGE1 by GRT Grasser) lead the championship on the same number of points. But at this early stage, the rest of the field will be looking to dent their title aspirations.
Key facts, Autodrom Most, Most, Rounds 3 and 4 of 14
Length of track: 4,212 metres
Layout: 21 turns (twelve right-handers, nine left-handers), driven clockwise
Winner in 2017: – (first time the track is featured on the calendar of the ADAC GT Masters)
Max Hofer (18, AUT) and Philip Ellis (25, GB, both Phoenix Racing) were the surprise package of the season opener a week ago at Oschersleben. The duo, who have never contested a GT3 race before, won the first outing of the year from pole position. “It took some time for our victory to sink in,” said Hofer, who had only just made the step up from the 2017 ADAC TCR Germany. “That’s because it was totally unexpected.” The 18-year-old from Vienna and co-driver Ellis now arrive in Most as championship leaders as the Czech circuit hosts its first ever ADAC GT Masters fixture: “I do not know the track at all. However, we at least have a test day on Thursday before the race weekend proper. Let’s see how fast our car is there. We think we are capable of fighting for top positions again. Of course, it gives you a boost to be leading the championship, and I certainly feel more confident. But I’ll go into this weekend just like any other. I see this season as a learning year, so I’m not going to put myself under any more pressure than before.”
Also on 25 points and on level pegging with Hofer and Ellis are the Lamborghini partnership of Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli who won the second race at Oschersleben. For Bortolotti too, Most is uncharted territory. “I’ll be travelling there with a very good feeling,” says the Italian. “We had a positive start to the season at Oschersleben, and we scored plenty of points. First of all, it will be important to familiarise ourselves with the track as soon as possible and to get our car as well set up as last time. To win again, we will have to be almost perfect, as we were at Oschersleben.”
The local favourites of Team ISR are highly motivated ahead of the premiere in the Czech Republic. The Cestlice-based outfit are competing in the ADAC GT Masters for the first time in 2018. Their pairing of Filip Salaquarda (34, CZ) and Frank Stippler (43, GER) driving an Audi R8 LMS scored points on their debut at Oschersleben. Team principle Igor Salaquarda: “We had a good weekend and were fast. A collision on the first lap of the second race deprived us another good result. The season is long. We will certainly have the chance to fight back.”
Third-placed Robert Renauer (33, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (23, FRA, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) will be looking to repeat their good start to the season at Most. The Porsche partnership was the only one to achieve Top Five finishes in both races at Oschersleben. “We’ll be quite happy with the same outcome at Most,” says Renauer optimistically. Likewise hoping for decent results on the second weekend of the season is former DTM Champion Timo Scheider (39, GER), who finished third at Oschersleben in a BMW M6 shared with Mikkel Jensen (23, DK, both BMW Team Schnitzer). Another pair in strong contention are Dominik Schwager (41, GER) and Luca Ludwig (29, GER, both HB Racing) in a Ferrari 488 GT3 who made it onto Sunday’s podium in the season opener.
Also on the billing for the ADAC GT Masters weekend at Most are the ADAC TCR Germany series, the GT4 Central European Cup and the Octavia Cup. But the action will not be confined to the track. On Saturday (11:00 – 11:30) and on Sunday (10:35 – 11:20), fans can get autographs signed and selfies taken during the pit walk, a great opportunity to glimpse behind the scenes of the Super Sports Car League. There will also be a Meet the Drivers session in the paddock on Saturday (16:15 – 16:45), and on Sunday afternoon, Red Bull Air Race pilot Petr Kopfstein will be putting on a show of aerial acrobatics.
Calendar for the 2018 ADAC GT Masters
13/04/18 – 15/04/18 Motorsport Arena Oschersleben
27/04/18 – 29/04/18 Autodrom Most (CZ)
08/06/18 – 10/06/18 Red Bull Ring (AUT)
03/08/18 – 05/08/18 Nürburgring
17/08/18 – 19/08/18 Circuit Zandvoort (NL)
07/09/18 – 09/09/18 Sachsenring
21/09/18 – 23/09/18 Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg
Source. ADAC GT Masters/Photo. ADAC Motorsport