Tension is building in the battle for the ADAC GT Masters title. The Porsche partnership of Timo Bernhard (37, GER) and Kévin Estre (29, FRA, both KÜS Team75 Bernhard) dominated Saturday’s ADAC GT Masters race in their 911 GT3 R. Meanwhile, the top four driver pairings in the championship all came away from the fourth-to-last race of the season empty handed. Because of an appeal lodged against exclusion from qualifying, the win for Bernhard and Estre remains provisional until a hearing before an appeals panel of the DMSB. Second place went to the Audi R8 LMS of Sheldon van der Linde (19, ZA) and Kelvin van der Linde (22, ZA, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) ahead of Mercedes-AMG duo Nicolai Sylvest (21, DK) and Kim -Luis Schramm (21, GER, both Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing). “The race was perfect,” said Timo Bernhard. “It’s a great result, because we’ve worked so hard for this win.”
Key facts Sachsenring, Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Round 11 of 14
Circuit length: 3,645 metres
Weather: 20°C, sunny
Pole Position: Timo Bernhard (KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 1:18.947 mins
Winner: Timo Bernhard and Kévin Estre (KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 R)
Fastest lap: Timo Bernhard (KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 1:20.245 mins
Pole-sitter Bernhard and partner Estre dominate Saturday’s race
The Franco-German pairing of Bernhard and Estre comfortably secured their first win of the season at the Sachsenring from pole position. They kept their cool despite a number of brief appearances by the safety car that caused the field to bunch together. Estre had a lead of 4.8 seconds at the finish. While this was Estre’s seventh overall victory in the ADAC GT Masters, it was former FIA WEC champion and Le Mans winner Bernhard’s first time on the top rung of the ADAC GT Masters podium.
Victory for the Porsche duo is provisional in status, as an inspection by the DMSB technical stewards after qualifying revealed a breach of the ADAC GT Masters technical regulations, and the 911 GT3 R was retrospectively excluded from the results. Team75 Bernhard lodged an appeal against the decision, and Bernhard was provisionally allowed to start from pole after all.
For the third time this season, Sheldon and Kelvin van der Linde in their Audi R8 LMS took second place behind a 911. They put the eventual winners under pressure for a short time after the safety car deployments but were ultimately unable to match the pace of the leaders. For Sheldon van der Linde, second place also meant victory in the Pirelli Trophy classification. Nicolai Sylvest and Kim-Luis Schramm in the third-placed Zakspeed Mercedes-AMG made their first podium appearance of 2018.
Mikkel Jensen (23, DK) and Timo Scheider (39, GER, both BMW Team Schnitzer) driving a BMW M6 GT3 gained a position right at the start and eventually crossed the line in fourth place ahead of the Mercedes-AMG driven by Indy Dontje (25, NL) and Maximilian Buhk (25, GER, both Mann-Filter Team HTP).
Next followed a procession of three Audis entered by BWT Mücke Motorsport: Jeffrey Schmidt (24, CH) and Stefan Mücke (36, GER) came home in sixth position ahead of Mike David Ortmann (18, GER) and Markus Winkelhock (38, GER) in seventh and Ricardo Feller (18, CH) and Christopher Haase (30, GER) in eighth.
Fellow Audi drivers Christopher Mies (29, GER) and Alex Riberas (24, ESP, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) finished ninth in their first ADAC GT Masters outing together. The final championship point went to the Lamborghini Hurácan GT3 of Aaro Vainio (24, SF) and Michele Beretta (23, ITA, both Team Rosberg) in P10.
Not a good day for the main title contenders
The eleventh race of the 2018 ADAC GT Masters yielded zero points for the highest-placed pairings in the championship table. The current leaders, Markus Pommer (27, GER) and Maximilian Götz (32, GER, both Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport) went out of the race as early as the second lap after a no-fault collision with the Audi of local favourite Philip Geipel (31, GER, YACO Racing) and the Corvette of third-placed Marvin Kirchhöfer (24, GER, Callaway Competition). Kirchhöfer was eventually force to retire after seven laps due to damage sustained in the incident. The number two duo of Robert Renauer (33, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (23, FRA, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) also failed to finish due to damage from a collision. With all of the above having drawn a blank today, Pommer and Götz retain their lead at the top of the table.
Porsche drivers Jan-Erik Slooten (33, GER) and Lucas Luhr (39, GER, both IronForce by RING POLICE) were the winners of the Pirelli Trophy classification for the third time this season.
Comments from the winners
Timo Bernhard (KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 R): “At the restarts after the three safety car deployments, I made sure that I got away cleanly and that the brakes and tyres were at the right temperature, because I had two young bucks behind me in the shape of Sheldon and Nicolai who were ready to pounce. The car was very good. Sheldon was able to match me for pace, so the gap that I had established was hard earned. But I was determined to hand the car over to Kévin in the lead.”
Kévin Estre (KÜS Team75 Bernhard, Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Timo got away to a great start from pole. He then kept pulling out a bit of a gap, but this was repeatedly cancelled out by the safety car. The team had the right strategy with a very early pit stop, as we were running into traffic. I had a good outlap and from then on increased our lead. I’m happy for the whole team, because they have worked so hard. After our team-mates secured a first podium of the campaign at Zandvoort, we’ve now done it ourselves. It’s great to be back at the top.”
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