163 days, that’s how long BWT Mücke Motorsport were travelling with the ADAC GT Masters through the whole of Europe. Seven circuits and 14 races with a clear goal in mind – to secure top-class results. At the final weekend at the Hockenheimring, the Berlin-based team had set themselves the task of securing third place in the team classification as they had done last year and also intended to have a good showing in the Junior championship. Jeffrey Schmidt and Stefan Mücke in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26, Ricardo Feller and Christopher Haase in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #25, plus Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24 gave it their best shot. In the end, the outfit was ranked fifth in the team classification – a respectable result when you consider that 21 teams were in the running.
The weekend’s highlights
Podium in the finale: It was Feller’s and Haase’s race. Feller laid the basis for a strong result in qualifying for Saturday’s race. At the start, he even managed to work his way up into fourth place with a fine overtaking manoeuvre before handing the car over to Haase, who became embroiled in a spectacular but always fair three-way scrap for the podium that was second to none and lasted until the finish line. Haase finally tucked back in, because his two opponents were in contention to win the championship. Apart from securing fifth place in the overall standings, they also took P2 in the Junior classification, giving the outfit their fifth podium overall in the category for Junior drivers. With a total of 125 points, Feller was the best-placed BWT Mücke Motorsport driver in this class, finishing fourth. Third place might even have been possible with a little more luck on Sunday. Timing was crucial on the drying track in qualifying. Haase posted a couple of best times and had the potential to be among the front-runners but had to settle for grid slot 26 in the end. Starting from that position, he and Feller went on a superb charge. By the finish line, the duo had gained an impressive 14 positions in this hard-fought ADAC GT Masters field, just missing out on points.
One Team: The chances of a top-class result in the first race of the weekend were good for the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24, as it started out from sixth on the grid, but even Ortmann’s good start was of no use when he was unceremoniously forced out of the race in only the second corner. It immediately became apparent that if starting again on Sunday was to be at all possible, then they would have to put in a night shift. The fact that car number 24 was back on the grid on Sunday was partly due to the unstinting efforts of BWT Mücke Motorsport’s mechanics, who had the car ‘race fit’ again by 1:00 am. But that would not have been at all possible without the help of GRT Grasser Racing. The Austrian team helped out with welding on the Audi R8 LMS. Grasser had already performed a similar neighbourly task for the illustrious Berlin-based outfit at the Nürburgring in 2017. Winkelhock and Ortmann thanked the mechanics with tenth place and one point in the second race. In the meantime, Winkelhock had moved up from 14th on the grid to fifth place. A pit stop that was not quite optimal and minor problems during the second stint saw the duo drop back again.
Sadness instead of finale furioso: Schmidt and Mücke experienced a weekend to forget at the Hockenheimring. Early on in qualifying on Saturday, Schmidt had been unable to use the tyres’ peak performance window to set a hot time, because the session had been interrupted or stopped a number of times. Grid slot 14 was the consequence. The duo were not blessed with much luck in the race either. Right at the start, the Swiss driver was forced off the track, losing more ground to other competitors. After the driver changeover, Mücke tried to push forwards a bit, but a dubious action by a fellow driver not only cost him further loss of position but also damaged the car which he ultimately brought home in 17th place. That made the two of them all the more determined on Sunday. However, their timing was out on the drying track, as times subsequently got one or two seconds quicker per lap. Mücke had gone out on track a little too early and had to settle for P25 on the grid. Starting out from that position, Mücke and Schmidt steadily worked their way forwards and gradually gained position, like their team-mates. They finally took the chequered flag in P13.
Comments about the weekend
Stefan Mücke (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “We expected more. Sunday’s qualifying was unsatisfactory. Our timing was not brilliant when conditions became drier. The track got faster, about one or two seconds per lap, so you lost a lot of time if you posted your final lap too soon. Of course, pushing forwards is tricky when you start from so far back. We were lucky in that we managed to avoid the carnage at the start, but unfortunately, I got stuck behind another car. Jeffrey managed to move forwards a little. We would have been delighted with a points-scoring finish, for sure, but of course, that was impossible in view of our difficult starting position. There was an incident with another car in the first race that was not fair, but the race director decided it was a normal racing occurrence, and we must accept that.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “I had high expectations of my qualifying on Saturday, because I know the track and know what’s what, plus, we were well prepared, but it become increasingly difficult to set a hot time what with the red-flag stoppages, yellow flags and traffic out on track. We didn’t post a single decent lap in the end. I took a hit to the rear of the car in the race at the end of the long straight and went off onto the grass, losing several positions as a result. Practically everything went wrong on Saturday and that continued on Sunday, starting with bad luck in qualifying. I squeezed everything out of the car during my stint and gradually caught up. Unfortunately, I was ultimately still down on time, otherwise even more would have been possible.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “As far as I’m concerned, the weekend was basically good. We worked in pre-testing and in the practice sessions to get the basis right, and so, were on the pace right away, as Ricardo brilliantly proved in qualifying fifth. A couple of scraps later, and we even managed to cross the finish line in fifth place. We simply went out and showed just how wonderful and extremely professional motor racing can be. Sunday, though, was more of a mixed bag. Conditions in qualifying were made tricky by the drying track, turning things into a lottery. Grid position 26 did not reflect the car’s potential. Of course, as a result, our initial starting position was anything but easy. By finishing 12th, though, we showed that we are fighters, who never give up. As regards strategy, the team did everything right once again.”
Ricardo Feller (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “My summary of the weekend’s events is positive. Our straight line speed was good in all of the sessions as evidenced by our fifth place in qualifying on Saturday. We maintained that position at the finish line – we couldn’t have expected to do more. That was really OK! We unfortunately had some bad luck in the second quali but then managed to move up into P12 from grid slot 26. That was a mega achievement, showing once again how good our speed was over the weekend. Even more would have been possible, but I had a problem with the brakes towards the end of the race, which made slowing down for the turns problematic. It made the final section very tricky but was also an important experience for me as a budding GT driver.”
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “Saturday’s quali went really well. Our car was just awesome. We certainly had some bad luck with the two red flags, but nevertheless, secured a good position on the grid with P5. The start of the first race went really well, actually, but sadly it was already over for us in Turn 2. Our grid position on Sunday was not as good, which was mainly down to the weather. Markus got an excellent start, but I had a problem to the rear on the right, and so, we lost a couple of positions again. We still managed to finish as fourth-best Juniors, which is OK. Many thanks to everyone in the team for putting in an extra night-shift so that we could have a car again on Sunday!”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “Unfortunately, the weekend didn’t go particularly well. It’s a real shame, because our Audi’s pace was really strong. Mike had a good qualifying on Saturday, but unfortunately, we exited the first race at an early stage through no fault of our own. On Sunday, we could definitely have achieved more than 14th on the grid. The variable conditions more or less turned things into a lottery as to who was last across the finish line and caught the track at its best as a result. I got an excellent start in the race and moved up nine positions. Unfortunately, we lost two places at the pit stop. We finished tenth in the end, which is not entirely satisfactory, because we had been in P5 at times. Still, we can be satisfied with the result in view of our position on the grid. I would like to take the opportunity at this point to commend the team for putting a top-performing car at our disposal in such a very short time.”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “Of course, it’s always nice to head home, having achieved first-class results, but unfortunately, we didn’t quite pull it off. We didn’t do too badly, though, given our grid positions. Unlike in the first race, we were lucky on Sunday that none of our cars were involved in any major incident. It was tough in qualifying on Sunday, because the track got around two seconds faster per lap. As we were sent out early on with car #26, we had no chance of posting a decent time. We were not where we should have been on the grid. The two highlights of the weekend for me were the superb race on Saturday by car #25 and Ricardo’s Junior podium. Another consolation is the fact that we were able to have a clean weekend while competing at this high level.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “Before the weekend, we had visions of achieving a great deal more and are now going into the winter break with mixed feelings. We can certainly hold our heads up high with fifth place in the team classification in view of the highly competitive nature of the ADAC GT Masters field, but at the same time, it was a clear ambition of ours to at least repeat our third place from last year. We certainly had the potential both as far as team and drivers are concerned but didn’t exploit it to the full this weekend for a variety of reasons. I’d like to thank our guys for going without sleep in order to get the Audi #24 prepped again for Sunday. They were at least rewarded with a point for that.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “Unfortunately, disappointment with the weekend takes the edge off highlights such as Saturday’s Junior podium. We planned on finishing the team classification in third place and intended playing our part in the Junior stakes. Unfortunately, we didn’t achieve either of our objectives. A start for our car #24 in the race on Sunday hung by a thread, but we worked through the night, and thanks to the good offices of GRT Grasser Racing, who also gave us a helping hand last year, we managed to have a top-performing car again for Mike and Markus today. That’s one of the great things about the ADAC GT Masters, the fact that teams are always prepared to help one another out despite being in competition. Many thanks again to all the guys at GRT!”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C Photography