It’s all happening in the ADAC GT Masters! With four race weekends in the space of seven weeks, the fight for the title in the Super Sports Car League has entered its most decisive phase. Zandvoort (NL) will host the fifth of this season’s seven meetings this weekend (17th – 19th August). ‘Half-time’ champions Marvin Kirchhöfer (24, GER) and Daniel Keilwitz (28, GER, both Callaway Competition) have a lead of just one point on Mercedes-AMG drivers Markus Pommer (27, GER) and Maximilian Götz (32, GER, both Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport). But the spotlight will also be on Le Mans winner and former WEC world champion, Marc Lieb (38, GER, KÜS Team75 Bernhard) this weekend as he makes his ADAC GT Masters debut. Local driver Indy Dontje (25, NL, Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport) too is a potential winner at Zandvoort.
Key facts, Circuit Zandvoort, Zandvoort, Races 9 and 10 of 14
Track length: 4,307 metres
Layout: 14 turns (ten right-handers, four left-handers), racing in a clockwise direction
Winners 2017, Race 1: Jules Gounon/Renger van der Zande (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Winners 2017, Race 2: Connor De Phillippi/Christopher Mies (Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS)
Just one point separates the Corvette drivers from their most determined rivals, Markus Pommer and Maximilian Götz. While the two championship leaders may have secured the unofficial title of ‘half-time’ champions at the Nürburgring last time out, they failed to finish both races while Pommer and Götz secured two podiums, gaining ground in the title fight. “This is no time now to be getting in a mess,” said Kirchhöfer, who has won two races and remains quite optimistic about the meeting in the Netherlands: “We will do our utmost once again at Zandvoort.”
Apart from the battle for the title, everyone will be interested to see how the extremely talented driver, Marc Lieb, gets on as he makes his series debut at Zandvoort. He is a former Le Mans winner and won the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). He will be at the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R prepared by KÜS Team75 Bernhard, sharing the drive on his first race outing in the Super Sports Car League with Team Principal Timo Bernhard (37, GER), who has also won at Le Mans and is a former WEC championship winner. Lieb currently works full-time as Head of Customer Racing at Porsche.
The circuit not far from Amsterdam is without doubt one of the most popular on the calendar with drivers. The ex-Formula 1 circuit in the very midst of the North Sea’s dunes is real ‘old-school’ as it leads uphill and down dale. Many of its turns are real white-knuckle corners – fast and blind – and there are gravel traps to punish driver error and no wide areas of tarmac. “Zandvoort is my favourite track,” says BMW driver Timo Scheider, who shares a car with Mikkel Jensen (23, DK) at BMW Team Schnitzer. “Its topography is like that of the Nürburgring Nordschleife in miniature. But the sand, which is always there on the track, also presents drivers with its challenges.” The former DTM champion is extremely keen to do well: “Zandvoort should suit our M6 GT3. The circuit has always been a special track in my career to date, so winning there would be really nice, especially as I’m still without a win despite taking several podiums.”
But Indy Dontje, the only Dutchman in the field, has already secured his maiden win in the ADAC GT Masters, following his recent triumph at the Nürburgring along with team-mate Maximilian Buhk. The Mercedes-AMG duo are now two of seven drivers from four different marques to have achieved success in the first eight races of the season. Dontje is also aiming to finish on the top rung of the podium in his home fixture. “Of course, the win at the Nürburgring makes you want more and was a great way to warm-up for Zandvoort,” says Dontje, who is currently sixth in the standings. “I’m pretty certain that many fans will come along and make for a great atmosphere. I finished third there in 2017 and hope to do even better this time.”
Robert Renauer (33, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (23, F, both Precote Herberth Motorsport), who are currently ranked third in the standings, also hope to finish among the front-runners – not least, because Porsche is the most successful brand in the ADAC GT Masters at Zandvoort with three wins so far. The Franco-German pairing in the 911 are currently 14 points down on the championship leaders. “We had a really tough weekend last time out at the Nürburgring,” said Team Principal Alfred Renauer. “But we managed to reduce the gap to the top of the leaderboard thanks to fifth place in Sunday’s race, which makes us feel optimistic about Zandvoort.”
Spectators can look forward to a very entertaining weekend’s motor racing on Saturday/Sunday, as, apart from the 35 ADAC GT Masters GT3 sports cars, the ADAC TCR Germany will also be lining up there with top-class touring car sport, plus the well established Porsche Carrera Cup Germany and the Renault Clio Cup Central Europe, which offer thrilling one-make racing. Admission to the whole of the dune area on the outside ring of the racetrack is free with the Dune Ticket available to download at circuitzandvoort.nl.
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