Never before has the title fight in the ADAC GT Masters been as exciting in the run-up to the finale, as 15 drivers in super sports cars from six brands – Audi, BMW, Corvette, Mercedes-AMG, Lamborghini and Porsche – will still be battling it out for the title in the two final races at Hockenheim this weekend (21st – 23rd September). The current championship leaders in the Porsche, Robert Renauer (33, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (23, F, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) have a lead of only four points on their closest rivals.
Key facts, Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, Races 13 and 14 of 14
Track length: 4.57 km
Layout: 17 turns (9 right-handers, 8 left-handers), racing in a clockwise direction
Winners 2017, Race 1: Jules Gounon and Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Winners 2017, Race 2: Rolf Ineichen and Christian Engelhart (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Hurácan GT3)
With eleven race winners from nine teams representing five different brands, plus twelve pole-sitters in a dozen races, racing in the 2018 ADAC GT Masters was very evenly matched and more unpredictable than ever before, which is also reflected in the title fight which will go to the wire this weekend. Fans can expect to see two extremely exciting races at Hockenheim.
Renauer and Jaminet are the ones to beat at the Baden-Württemberg circuit. The Franco-German pairing reclaimed the top spot in the standings during the penultimate weekend at the Sachsenring, having notched up 109 points. “Our goal is very clear, to become champions,” said Renauer bullishly; he finished runner-up overall in 2013. “We intend to finish on the podium in order to make that happen. It’s important that we have two clean races. The title is ours to decide. It’s up to us what we make of our chances.”
Markus Pommer (27, GER) and Maximilian Götz (32, GER, both Mann-Filter Team HTP) have a deficit of only five points on the leaders. The duo in the Mercedes-AMG aim to fight back after experiencing a weekend to forget in Saxony when they came away empty-handed following two no-fault collisions. “Of course, our goal was to extend our lead by as much as possible ahead of the finale, because the Hockenheimring is not necessarily one of our favourites due to its track characteristics, but all things are still possible. We will fight to the end,” said Götz, setting out his objectives; he wrapped up his first ADAC GT Masters title with a win at Hockenheim in 2012.
Marvin Kirchhöfer (24, GER) and 2013 champion Daniel Keilwitz (29, GER) are in third place. They would like to clinch the second drivers’ title in succession for Callaway Competition at Hockenheim following Jules Gounon (F) championship win last year. They are optimistic despite having a 17-point deficit with just 50 points still up for grabs. Their Corvette C7 GT3-R achieved a win and a second place at Hockenheim in 2017. “It’s still wide open,” said Kirchhöfer confidently. The two brothers Sheldon (19, ZA) and Kelvin van der Linde (22, ZA, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) are 20 points adrift. The Audi pairing finished runners-up four times in this year’s races but are the only ones among the title contenders still without a win.
Seven other drivers are ranked as outsiders in the battle for the title, including former DTM champion and current BMW works driver Timo Scheider (39, GER, BMW Team Schnitzer), Lamborghini works drivers Mirko Bortolotti (28, ITA) and Andrea Caldarelli (28, ITA, both ORANGE1 by GRT Grasser). However, their deficit to the top of the table is 45 points at least.
The team competition, the Pirelli Junior and Pirelli Trophy classifications have also still not been decided ahead of the last two races of the season. Mann-Filter Team HTP hold the best cards in the team stakes. The outfit from Altendiez to the east of Koblenz are 34 points up on Precote Herberth Motorsport. HTP will have the title in the bag on Saturday provided they can build up a cushion of at least 25 points before the second race.
Things are much closer in the Pirelli Junior class. Audi driver Sheldon van der Linde has a lead of 29.5 points in this category for under 25s, but six other drivers could overtake the South African. Fellow Audi drivers, Max Hofer (19, AUT) and Philip Ellis (25, GB, both Phoenix Racing) are in second place and could take a winning share of the 75 points in total to be won at the weekend.
In the Pirelli Trophy, Swiss driver Remo Lips (35) is on track to claim his hat-trick. Porsche driver and series newcomer Jan-Erik Slooten (33, GER, Ironforce by RING POLICE) is the only one who could prove a threat to him but would have to win both rounds in class and hope that Audi driver Lips suffers racing bad luck.
Apart from the candidates for the various titles, many local drivers will be hoping to achieve good results. Among them is Sebastian Asch (32, GER, Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing), who together with partner Luca Stolz (23, GER) is still waiting to take his first podium of 2018. “The Hockenheimring is very special for me. It’s the closest circuit to my home town, so many fans and family come every year to watch,” said the Mercedes-AMG driver. “Also, in my mind, I associate the Hockenheimring with my two championship wins in 2012 and 2015, which have been the biggest successes to date in my career and I made sure of both title wins there. Things are more difficult to predict this year. We’re down on straight-line speed on the long straights, especially on the Parabolica, but I hope we can compensate for that on the other passages.”
Apart from the spectacular GT3 battles, there will be plenty more for fans to look forward to at Hockenheim. Lirim Zendeli (18, GER) may have already been proclaimed winner of the ADAC Formula 4 title, but the young drivers in the series will nevertheless be keen to showcase their talents once more. The meeting at Hockenheim will also decide the four-way battle for the title in the ADAC TCR Germany and who wins the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. The young drivers in the Formula Renault Eurocup will contest their penultimate round of the season at the weekend. In the paddock, fans can get a sneak-peek at next year’s ADAC GT4 Germany, as the Audi R8 GT4, BMW M4 GT4, KTM X-Bow GT4, Mercedes-AMG GT4 and a Porsche Cayman GT4 will be on display there.
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