The third race weekend of the ADAC GT Masters had a bit of everything in store for BWT Mücke Motorsport. Rain, sun, hot conditions and then a podium in the finale. Jeffrey Schmidt and DTM driver Jamie Green in the number 26 BWT Audi R8 LMS, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase in the number 25 BWT Audi R8 LMS plus Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock in the number 24 kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS had high hopes of doing well after the team’s first win of the season at Most. They wanted to defend P3 in the team classification and repeat the podium from last year in the best-case scenario. No easy task, as the Austrian Formula 1 circuit normally does not suit the Audi.
The weekend’s highlights
Podium in finale: The best is always worth waiting for, as everybody knows, including Schmidt and Green, who achieved P9 in Sunday’s race. Initially, that gave them fourth place in the Junior classification, but the two of them were bumped up into third place following a retrospective penalty for one of the opposition. It was their just reward for going on an extraordinary charge up the field. Green was on target to finish in the Top Ten in qualifying, but a small mistake wrecked his hot lap. The end result was P21 on the grid. In the race itself, heavy rain began to fall after a few minutes, but they decided not to make an additional pit stop and stayed out on slicks until the driver handover. The risk they took paid off. Green and Schmidt clawed back 13 places and earned praise for their performance. They didn’t have the same luck in Saturday’s race. Schmidt qualified the number 26 BWT Audi R8 LMS in 17th place and worked his way up into the Top Ten immediately at the start. However, various incidents served to drop them back down into P19.
Hard-fought points: But the real heroes in the team at charging up the field were Feller and Haase in the number 25 BWT Audi R8 LMS. Feller lined up in P21 on Saturday and like team-mate Haase kept well away from all incidents through intelligent driving. Their reward: P10 and another point. They booked P23 on Sunday following a mediocre qualifying session. Haase also took a risk and stayed out on track in the pouring rain and did not come in to bolt on full wets. He gingerly manoeuvred his vehicle around the wet track without making a mistake and was one of the last ones to pit for the driver handover. That meant that car number 25 even led the race for one lap. After the changeover, Feller slotted back into P9 and a points-scoring position. However, a rapidly drying track towards the end of the race did not help matters, and so they ultimately crossed the finish line in P14. The two of them gained some 20 places in all in the two races.
Strong opening round: Ortmann and Winkelhock in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS made an excellent start to the weekend. In the first practice session, theirs was the best-placed Audi in the field in P4. Their hopes of a top-class finish were high after some bad luck during the season’s first two meetings. However, qualifying in P20 in the first race brought Ortmann and Winkelhock in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS back down to earth again. Still, Ortmann fought hard at the start in order to quickly move up a couple of positions. A shunt from behind forced him helplessly into the gravel trap, however, quickly ending his chances. Hoffmann in P28 on the grid hoped for rain, and his prayers were answered. Like his team-mates, he battled his way up through the field on slicks, working his way close to the Top Ten just before the pit stop. Ortmann did not hang about after the driver handover, staying within points contention. Towards the end, though, even he had to admit defeat on the rapidly drying track and crossed the finish line in P17, having gained ten places.
Comments on the weekend
Jamie Green (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “We had a chance of a place in the Top Ten on Saturday after Jeffrey had qualified 17th on the grid. I was involved in a battle for P12 during my stint but was forced off the track and dropped back as a result. Then there was a contact with a fellow competitor and I found myself down in P19. I spun on my final lap in the last turn during qualifying for the second race, otherwise a grid position in the Top Ten would have been possible. Conditions in the race made things really challenging. I moved up a couple of positions both in the dry and in the wet. Jeffrey had problems with his tyres degrading a little towards the end of the race. We can be really pleased with P8 in view of the tough conditions.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “A great deal should certainly have been possible in the second race. Jamie got away really well and gained a couple of positions until eventually it began to rain. We decided to stay out on slicks. Jamie rose to the challenge posed by these tough conditions and made some good progress up the field. We then bolted on full wets during the driver handover, because we thought that the rain would get heavier. Unfortunately, the rain stopped shortly after and the track soon dried out. It was all a lottery, really. Things could have turned out very differently. Had we done things differently, we might possibly even have won. At the end of the day, though, conditions were the same for everyone. Still, we were bumped up to P3 in the Junior classification when another competitor was handed a penalty.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “It was an extremely eventful weekend with plenty of ups and downs. We made a good start to both races, but our positions on the grid were not at all ideal. We turned in a super performance on Saturday and managed to finish in the Top Ten. On Sunday, we stayed out on slicks for a long time as rain began to fall. That was the right decision, because it enabled us to take P10. I was surprised at first to see how well the car drove in these tricky conditions, but things got really hairy in Sector 2 where there was standing water. The tyres degraded too much towards the end and grip fell off a cliff. Hanging on to tenth place was impossible in the circumstances. The car went very well the whole weekend.”
Ricardo Feller (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “That was a tough weekend for us. We tried something different in qualifying on Saturday, and the car felt great. However, things at the start were none too rosy in P21 on the grid. We battled our way up into P10 in the race, and we can be pleased about that. We wanted to do the same as we’d done on Saturday in the first race after a poor session in qualifying on Sunday. Unfortunately, the tyres deteriorated towards the end in the changeable conditions, so we were unable to finish any higher than 14th, which is still a good result in view of our mediocre P23 grid position.”
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “The field was very tightly bunched once again. We had the speed to be among the Top Fifteen in qualifying, but things did not work out too well, and the crucial two or three tenths we needed were not there. In the race, all the cars on the left of the grid made a poor start. I got stuck in traffic and lost a couple of places. I was hit from behind on the near side shortly before the pit stop window opened and skidded into the gravel trap, so my race was over. We decided to go for damage limitation in Race 2. Our pace was good in the rain. Unfortunately, the track dried out quicker than we thought it would, and our tyres were no longer the best. The pit stop didn’t go quite right either. There’s a lot we need to analyse during the long summer break.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “Conditions were perfect in Sunday’s fixture, almost as if I’d written the script myself for race day. Start on slicks, then down came the rain. Unfortunately, a fellow competitor sent me hurtling through the gravel, and I lost a couple of positions. Nevertheless, we were knocking on the door of the Top Ten but went down a few places when tyre pressures went up. Staying out on slicks would have meant taking a big risk. It was a terrific race, only it didn’t end the way we would have wished. We were unlucky too in the first race, but Mike is not to blame. When someone makes the slightest contact with you as you’re going around a turn, then you immediately spin. Unfortunately, that brought our race to an early end. We worked on setup a little bit before Sunday’s race but probably not in the right direction. The consequences of that can be tough in such a highly competitive field.”
Team Principal Peter Mücke: “The weekend ended well with a good result in view of our grid positions. I wasn’t all that happy with qualifying, but it appears to me that we’re only talking about tenths of a second. We made the best of the situation and even found a good tactical solution in the race. The opposition found success by using different tactics, but it would have been too risky for us to remain on slicks at the time. Overall, it was not the best weekend that we’ve ever had, but once again, it was an extremely competitive field. 25 cars were covered by one second in practice. It’s been like that throughout the championship, and we accept that we can’t always compete up front. The Audis basically had a very tough time at the Red Bull Ring. I can’t understand, though, how the Corvette has come to be so wrongly classified during all these years. The balance of performance is generally right but not, as a rule, where the Corvette is concerned, and that’s patently absurd.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “We came to the Red Bull Ring in third place in the team competition and in fourth position in the drivers’ standings with Jeffrey Schmidt. Despite knowing that this would be one of the more demanding ones for us, we naturally wanted to hang on to these positions. We fought hard, hoping to seize our chances. Sunday proved just how strong we are as a team. We gained a lot of ground by making the right decisions. The mechanics too did a brilliant job. We’ve just got to draw a line under things now and look ahead to the Nürburgring where we’ll go on the offensive once more.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “After experiencing the highs of Most where we had a weekend that was really great but unexpected, we’ve got the lows at the Red Bull Ring. We had hoped for good results, but it was tougher than we thought, although the finish on the Junior podium brought things to a positive conclusion, despite what was probably one of our showings in qualifying in the ADAC GT Masters. The rain in the race played into our hands, but we had to make the right decisions and did that by having an excellent strategy. It looked like it would continue raining at the driver handover, so that’s how we set up cars and tyres, but the tactic didn’t pay off in the end. Thanks to our strategy, we still moved up with car number 26 from P21 on the grid to P6. So, there’s a lot that we did right even if we ultimately ended up going down a couple of places. We’re not all that pleased as we head off home from Spielberg, because our points haul was so meagre. We’ve had tiring weeks and are all looking forward to a rest and to recharging our batteries. At the same time, we’ve got to get preparations for the rest of this season’s fixtures underway. The Red Bull Ring has put a bit of a dampener on things, but it’s the end result that counts!”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C Photography