The Corvette pairing of Marvin Kirchhöfer (24, GER) and Daniel Keilwitz (28, GER, both Callaway Competition) lived up to their billing as favourites in Saturday’s ADAC GT Masters race at the Red Bull Ring. The duo were in dominant form as they claimed their first win of the campaign. Second and third place went to the BMWs driven by Timo Scheider (39, GER) and Mikkel Jensen (23, DK) and by Dennis Marschall (21, GER) and Victor Bouveng (22, SWE, all BMW Team Schnitzer). “It means a lot to me to have won in the ADAC GT Masters,” said debutant winner Kirchhöfer after the race. “I am very happy and now just savouring the moment.”
Key facts, Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, Round 5 of 14
Circuit length: 4,318 metres
Weather: 28°C, sunny
Pole Position: Marvin Kirchhöfer (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R), 1:28.180 mins
Winner: Marvin Kirchhöfer and Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Fastest lap: Marvin Kirchhöfer (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R), 1:29.968 mins
Victory for Corvette never in any doubt
Pole-sitter Marvin Kirchhöfer had no problem in asserting his lead at the start. After a brief safety car deployment to recover the Audi R8 LMS of Filip Salaquarda (34, CZ, Team ISR), the Corvette driver opened a clear gap on the rest of the field, which was up to three seconds by the time he called in for the mandatory pit stop. Partner Daniel Keilwitz continued in like fashion after the break. At the flag, the 2013 champion retained a 0.6-second lead to secure the first victory of the season for reigning ADAC GT Masters champions Callaway Competition. For record race winner Keilwitz, it was his 20th success in the Super Sports Car League and his seventh at the Red Bull Ring. Team-mate Kirchhöfer was delighted about his personal first victory.
In the second half of the race, there was plenty of wheel-to-wheel action among the pursuing bunch, due in no small part to two further safety car deployments to recover the Audi R8 LMS of Mike David Ortmann (18, GER, BWT Mücke Motorsport) and the BMW M6 GT3 of Christopher Zöchling (30, AUT, MRS GT-Racing). Positions two and three went to the BMW M6 GT3s entered by BMW Team Schnitzer. For the Freilassing-based outfit, it was a first double podium finish in this particular racing series. Former DTM Champion Timo Scheider and Mikkel Jensen narrowly prevailed over their team-mates Dennis Marschall and Victor Bouveng, who were nonetheless delighted to be making a maiden podium appearance in the ADAC GT Masters. Series newcomer Jensen also took the win in the Pirelli Junior classification.
In fourth place after starting from eighth on the grid were Timo Bernhard (37, GER) and Kévin Estre (29, FRA, both KÜS Team75 Bernhard) in the best-placed of the Porsche 911 GT3 Rs. Brothers Sheldon van der Linde (19, ZA) and Kelvin van der Linde (21, ZA, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) were the best of the Audi contingent in P5. Behind them in sixth place were Robert Renauer (33, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (23, FRA, both Precote Herberth Motorsport), followed by the Ferrari 488 GT3 entered by local outfit HB Racing and driven by Alfred Renauer (33, GER) and Luca Ludwig (29, GER). Best Austrian driver of the day in eighth place was Max Hofer (19, AUT) partnered by Philip Ellis (25, GB) in the Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS. Indy Dontje (25, NL) and Maximilian Buhk (25, GER, both Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport) in P9 were the only Mercedes-AMG drivers to finish in the Top Ten, with the last point being picked up by Audi drivers Ricardo Feller (18, CH) and Christopher Haase (30, GER, both BWT Mücke Motorsport).
Victory in the Pirelli Trophy class went to Rolf Ineichen (40, CH) and Christian Engelhart (31, GER) in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 entered by GRT Grasser Racing Team who are based in the immediate vicinity of the circuit.
Comments from the winners
Marvin Kirchhöfer (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R): “I would say that the key to our victory today was getting pole position. We had a great race with a perfect strategy. It was not quite as easy as it looked, because we were struggling a bit with tyre degradation.”
Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R): “It could not have gone any better. The Corvette is a perfect fit for the Red Bull Ring. We know we have to win here if we want to be in contention for the title, because there are other tracks such as the Sachsenring that aren’t so good for us. During the two safety car deployments towards the end, I was picking up graining, but I still had two good restarts. That was a solid basis for retaining the lead.”
2018 ADAC GT Masters Calendar
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 (A)
03/08/18 – 05/08/18 Nürburgring
17/08/18 – 19/08/18 Circuit Park 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