‘Second year, new luck’. BWT Mücke Motorsport got the 2018 ADAC GT Masters season underway in positive fashion with the thought uppermost in their minds that their luck would be different in their second year. The well-established Berlin-based team celebrated numerous successes in the highly competitive Super Sports Car League and were podium contenders in almost every race.
The team fielded three Audi R8 LMS cars for the first time, relying once again on promoting young talent in their squad of drivers with each of the three aspiring aces sharing a car with a successful pro. Jeffrey Schmidt partnered both Ford works driver Stefan Mücke in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26 and his stand-in, DTM star, Jamie Green. Ricardo Feller joined Audi Sport driver Christopher Haase in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #25, and Mike David Ortmann shared the cockpit of the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24 with Audi Sport driver, Markus Winkelhock.
The highlights of the 2018 season
Audi excel: The second race weekend of the season soon brought results. BWT Mücke Motorsport took their first win of 2018 in Most. This success was very special, because, whilst the team had already twice finished on the top rung of the podium in 2017 (their debut season), this was their first win with the Audi R8 LMS after Schmidt had qualified on pole in the Czech Republic. He set the fastest lap time in qualifying with the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26, giving BWT Mücke Motorsport their first pole position since joining the ADAC GT Masters.
Historic victory: BWT Mücke Motorsport entered the record books at the Most venue with this pole position and eventual victory, as the ADAC GT Masters was racing at the Autodrom Most for the first time, so the team will be forever remembered as the first pole-sitters and winners in the series at this particular racetrack.
History repeating itself: The win at Most was Schmidt’s and Mücke’s maiden victory in the ADAC GT Masters and was also very special for Stefan Mücke, because he had finally achieved success again for his own team after more than 17 years. It was in 2001 at Hockenheim that the son of Team Principal Peter Mücke last won for his team when he achieved success in the German Formula 3 and was crowned championship runner-up. Interesting fact: Despite all the years that have elapsed since 2001, both wins were achieved with the same race engineer!
Hat-trick for Mücke: The team pulled off a much-anticipated triumph at Zandvoort. For the first time ever in the ADAC GT Masters, BWT Mücke Motorsport brought all three of the team’s Audi R8 LMS supercars home in the Top Ten. At the end of the second race of the weekend, the three driver pairings were sixth, seventh and ninth with Feller and Haase in car #25 finishing as the best-placed Audi in the entire field. During the season, BWT Mücke Motorsport had the best of 13 Audis in the ADAC GT Masters field on four separate occasions.
Time ‘on hold’ comes to an end: A long dry spell for the Audi R8 LMS #24 came to an end with a long-overdue podium at the Nürburgring. Lack of performance was rarely the problem, but they always seemed to be missing that necessary bit of luck. Fortune smiled, though, in qualifying for the second race in the Eifel when Winkelhock stormed into second place and was only 82 thousandths of a second away from taking pole position. In the race, the ex-Formula 1 and DTM driver maintained position without any issues. Ortmann fought tirelessly after the driver changeover but was beaten by the driver hunting him down with just one lap to go. He took the chequered flag in third place as the entire team cheered him on. This was Ortmann’s maiden podium in the ADAC GT Masters and first victory in the Junior classification for drivers under 25.
Sensational podium: BWT Mücke Motorsport were podium contenders in almost every race but no one thought for one minute before the second race at the Sachsenring that things were going to come good. The BWT Audi R8 LMS #26 started from 18th place! Mücke gained a number of positions during his stint, having set off from grid slot 18, and, thanks to perfect strategy and Lady Luck suddenly smiling on them, came in to switch drivers just before the pit stop window closed. The safety car was now out on track, and Schmidt left the pits in a fabulous fifth place. And he managed to do even better in the end despite a contact in a battle with a fellow competitor. He moved up into third place and looked like a race winner at times.
DTM star at the wheel: None other than DTM driver Jamie Green was at the wheel for BWT Mücke Motorsport on three race weekends. The 36-year-old British driver positively relished the chance to stand in for regular driver Mücke, who was unable to race at Oschersleben, the Red Bull Ring or Zandvoort due to being otherwise engaged as a Ford works driver in the World Endurance Championship. Green and Schmidt twice managed to finish in the points in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26. Green was the only driver from the DTM to compete in the ADAC GT Masters during 2018.
Outstanding juniors: Scouting out young talent in motorsport and subsequently developing it is something that BWT Mücke Motorsport consider to be of the utmost importance, and Peter Mücke pursued that goal once again in 2018. A more experienced driver partnered one of the juniors in all three cars, and their success speaks for itself. In this season’s 14 races, the team secured two wins and a total of ten podium finishes in the Junior classification. All three drivers finished in the Top Ten in the championship with fourth place for Feller, P6 for Schmidt and P7 for Ortmann.
Staying power: In 2018, the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26 successfully completed all 493 race laps in the ADAC GT Masters, a feat only accomplished by one other competitor. The fact that Schmidt saw the finish line in each of the 14 races with team-mate Mücke and reserve driver Green is due to the reliability of the Audi R8 LMS and his canny driving style.
Comments about the 2018 season
Stefan Mücke (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “The ADAC GT Masters is a strong championship and every race is very closely contested. It’s OK that competition is tough, especially in view of the minor differences in performance, and it has to be like that. It’s exactly what spectators want to see, but sometimes, standards of driving are not good and then it’s no fun. It’s often down to sheer luck whether you get through the first lap unscathed or have to retire your car as a total loss. The right balance between exciting and yet at the same time sensible racing needs to be found.”
Ricardo Feller (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “It was a terrific season overall. I had a great time with the team and it was real fun. We finished on the Junior podium a couple of times and made it into the Top Ten on several occasions. My thanks also go to Christopher Haase. He’s a really great guy. I was able to learn a lot from him. It was very nice to have his support. It’s something I never took for granted. I can’t wait to see now what next season will bring in the ADAC GT Masters.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “We were a bit down on pace in qualifying at the beginning of the season. Pace, unfortunately, is essential, as overtaking in the ADAC GT Masters is tricky at practically every track. It improved steadily. We were a bit unlucky at some point or other, and yet, still did well. The car was always brilliant and to some extent, it’s true to say that we might even have secured a place on the front row but for the aforementioned bad luck in qualifying. In many races, we were simply unlucky, dropped a lot of points and missed out on good results through no fault of our own. We took a podium at the Nürburgring, which was great but not the goal we’d set ourselves for this season.”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “We’ve seen that we’re on an upward trend in all areas this season. The performance of our young drivers in particular makes me feel very positive. They had some difficulties initially in qualifying, but there was a noticeable improvement with every race. Overall, the championship is very tough and of high quality. You’ve done well even though you may only finish tenth or 15th. And yet at the same time, I’ve been shocked by the style of driving in the ADAC GT Masters on many occasions. The way that drivers cut you up, especially over the first few laps of the race, is just out of order. Certain drivers should think again about their behaviour as regards that.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “We’d set ourselves the goal of at least finishing third in the team classification, but unfortunately, didn’t quite manage it in the end. To some extent, that takes the edge off what was an otherwise excellent season. There’s a great feeling of harmony within the team, and everyone was always able to rely on one another. Top-class results such as the win at Most and our podium finishes were only ever possible because of that. Working with Audi Sport has been terrific. They’ve helped us enormously. We’ve definitely taken a step in the right direction in that respect. We’re part of the Audi family now and have also proven our standing as BWT Mücke Motorsport.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “We fielded three cars from the same manufacturer this year for the first time and have taken a major leap forwards with the performance of the Audi R8 LMS. Our overall package was competitive with just a few minor things preventing a score of 100 percent. A number of no-fault retirements contributed to the fact that we were not always able to excel. Once again, on the whole, it became more apparent than in 2017 just how important it is to qualify up front. If you can’t do that, then you’ve got practically no chance of securing a good result. I’ve been very impressed with the Balance of Performance which has been overseen by SRO for the first time this year. With only a few exceptions, every brand had the chance to secure pole and the win. Only at the Red Bull Ring and Hockenheim did one particular competitor have a definite advantage. If that can be sorted out for 2019, then the BoP will be perfect.”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C Photography