Clouds blot out the sun – both in the sky and at BWT Mücke Motorsport. The well-established Berlin-based outfit embarked on the second half of the ADAC GT Masters season this weekend at the Nürburgring (3rd – 5th August). The team did very well at this fourth race meeting, producing hot times in qualifying and several podium finishes but also suffered setbacks. In BWT Mücke Motorsport’s line-up were Jeffrey Schmidt and Stefan Mücke in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #25 and Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24.
The weekend’s highlights
Duck is broken: It’s taken 21 races, but the team have now finally broken their duck. The kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS made it onto the podium in Sunday’s race! Winkelhock did the business in qualifying with second place and maintained P2 until the driver changeover. Ortmann, who is only in his second year in the ADAC GT Masters also drove without making any mistakes and defended strongly. But with just one lap to go to the finish line, he was no longer able to hold off his adversary and finally took the chequered flag in third place to the cheers of the entire team. P3 overall gave Ortmann his maiden victory in the Junior classification and made up for a difficult Saturday when he had to start with a big deficit from grid position 31. He then worked his way steadily forwards during his stint. Winkelhock took the car over in 19th place and gained more ground as he moved up the field to ultimately finish 14th after an amazing 17 positions had been clawed back in total.
Glory and worry: Saturday got off to a perfect start for Feller and Haase in their BWT Audi R8 LMS #25. Swiss driver Feller achieved his best result to date in the ADAC GT Masters by qualifying sixth on the grid. He shot straight into the lead at the start and stayed in P1 despite several safety car periods. But the first setback came before he had pitted. He was under investigation for having moved out of his corridor at the start before the lights had changed. The result was a five-second pit stop penalty. Ploughing on regardless, Haase emerged in third place after the driver handover and even managed to work his way up into second. A podium! Their joy was short-lived, as that evening, the stewards increased the 5-second penalty to 30 seconds, which dropped them into 15th place. But Haase and Feller fought back on Sunday. Starting fourth on the grid, they held that position faultlessly to the finish line. Whilst they missed the overall podium by the narrowest of margins, the champagne still flowed, since Feller finished second in the Junior standings directly behind team-mates Ortmann and Winkelhock.
Emotional roller-coaster: The Nürburgring weekend was full of highs and lows for Jeffrey Schmidt and Stefan Mücke. Their initial positions for the two races were good with grid slots ten and eight. Schmidt got away to a good start on Saturday but found himself almost at the back of the field after Turn 1 when he was forced to run into the gravel trap to avoid an accident in front of him. They had worked their way back up to within striking distance of a points-scoring position when Mücke was hit by another competitor and dropped back down the field again to finally finish twelfth. That was exactly where Schmidt and Mücke also finished on Sunday. Mücke had already moved up into seventh place after making a good start. However, he had to run wide on the first lap and was then hit from behind. A good pit stop and strong overtaking manoeuvres saw the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26 move briefly back up into the points. This time, it was Schmidt, who was rear-ended by another competitor, causing him to spin off into the gravel trap. And so, through no fault of their own, they finished out of the points at the Nürburgring.
Comments about the weekend
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “I’m really chuffed that we made it onto the podium and won the Junior class as well. The race could hardly have gone any better. Markus had a mega qualifying and a great start, which was the first step to achieving success. I was struggling with the car towards the end of my stint and had to give up a position. Obviously, I would have liked to have defended second place but am delighted with our podium which outweighs everything. Thanks too to the team for all their hard work. A couple of things didn’t come together in Saturday’s quali, unfortunately, which is why we were only 31st on the grid. Still, we certainly managed to limit the damage with 14th place in the end.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “My qualifying was great with second place and the car felt terrific. Getting through the first few corners was paramount in the race. We had a few small contacts but nothing major. On the first few laps, I had to fend off a Corvette that was quicker than me down the straights. Once I was able to get clear, the gap then immediately got bigger, but by that time, the race leader was already a few seconds in front. We were roughly as quick as one another for the rest of the stint. Mike also did a great job, and ultimately, it amounted to more or less the same thing, whether we finished second or third. We just wanted this podium. We had to practise damage limitation on Saturday from grid position 31. I overtook a couple of cars but didn’t want to take too many risks.”
Ricardo Feller (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “It was a roller-coaster of a weekend for us. We had an extremely good set-up for Saturday’s qualifying and finished sixth to achieve my best grid position in the ADAC GT Masters, but unfortunately, I moved a second too soon at the start and were subsequently handed a five-second penalty. At seven o’clock later that evening, we got another, retrospective drive-through penalty, which I think was a little bit too late in coming. Still, no one can take away from me the laps I posted in the lead or the elation I felt. It makes you want more of the same. We secured vital points with P4 on Sunday and also visited the Junior podium, which went some way to making up for Saturday.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “It was an excellent weekend overall. We had an amazing race on Saturday, a super car and posted the fastest race lap. We really showed what we and the car can do. I accept the 30-second penalty, but it hurts twice over, coming so late in the day. I think that such a decision with far-reaching consequences should have been made much sooner, for sure. We achieved the maximum in Sunday’s race with fourth place overall and second place in the Junior classification. I want to thank the team and Ricardo – we’re definitely on the up.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “Unfortunately, it was not our weekend. Our grid slot on Saturday was quite good with P10, but then, there was an accident in front of me and I had to swerve into the gravel, putting me almost at the very back of the field. Unfortunately, it was not enough for points, but on Sunday, Stefan handed the car over to me in eleventh place and I moved up a few positions. I had a nice, very fair battle with Timo Bernhard and finally overtook him. I found myself in the middle of the pack while fighting for seventh place, was hit by another car and had to go off into the gravel bed. So, that put paid to our chances and we finished twelfth out of the points.”
Stefan Mücke (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “It was a frustrating weekend for Jeffrey and me. On Saturday, he had to run into the gravel at the start to avoid an accident. We worked our way back up into the points until I was hit again just before the end. We finished twelfth ultimately, which was OK, considering what happened in the first corner. It was incredibly close in my qualifying session on Sunday. I could have pulled back a few hundredths of a second here and there, but no more. The start itself went well until the fourth corner. I had to run wide to avoid a Porsche and then had dirt in the tyres. I suffered a big impact from behind on the same lap, and so, we couldn’t pull away, especially as Jeffrey was hit again by another driver at the end. The ADAC GT Masters is hotly contested, but some of the driving here is definitely out of order. Your car should never suffer damage all over after just one lap racing in the mid-field.”
Team Principal Peter Mücke: “On balance, results were mixed. Overall, we had one of our best weekends in the ADAC GT Masters. Our drivers performed well – the young ones especially did a great job. It’s apparent that their training is bearing fruit and they’re learning their lessons. We’ve still got some work to do where qualifying is concerned, but we’re on the right track. At the same time, there was a lot of upset this weekend. In my opinion, the race director made a mistake on Saturday when he cleared the race to get under way. Ricardo fell into the trap by jumping the start, unfortunately. The second mistake was to punish us during the race and then to give us another penalty for the same offence four hours later. That’s just not on, and I cannot agree with it. The start didn’t go smoothly on Sunday either, even though all drivers in the field had been given specific instructions beforehand. Starting procedures definitely need looking at.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team-Management): “We can be very pleased with this weekend. We got all three cars into the Top Ten in Sunday’s qualifying, which is by no means something that just happens in this hotly contested field. I’m particularly happy that our Audi #24 finally finished on the podium. We’ve had a long dry spell that has finally come to an end. It gives the drivers, the mechanics and the entire team a big boost to see that their hard work is finally paying off. And our other drivers have also shown their speed and what our Audis can do, even if for various reasons it’s not always been rewarded.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “I feel really positive about events during this Nürburgring weekend, but we’ve also seen that joy and pain make very close bedfellows. We’ve used the seven weeks since the last race weekend to good effect and have done our homework. Our performance was amazing, both in the strong showing in Saturday’s qualifying from our junior driver, Ricardo, and in the fantastic team performance with all three cars in the Top Nine in Sunday’s qualifying. We achieved vital results in the races with two of our cars, finishing on the overall podium with our #24 Audi and on the Junior podium – our just reward for the entire team’s hard work. We must now take that momentum with us to Zandvoort and continue where we left off at the Nürburgring.”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport /Photo. Gruppe C