The ADAC GT Masters will hold its races at the fastest track of the year this weekend (June 7th – 9th) when 31 supercars will contest the third round of the year at the Red Bull Ring. Audi drivers Patric Niederhauser (27, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (22, ZA, both HCB-Rutronik Racing) travel to Austria as overall leaders but their rivals, including a strong contingent of Austrian drivers and teams who want to shine in front of their home crowd, intend to challenge them for the top position.
Key facts, Red Bull Ring, Spielberg, rounds 5 and 6 of 14
Track length: 4.31 km
Layout: 10 turns (seven right-handers, three left-handers), racing in a clockwise direction
Winners 2018, Race 1: Marvin Kirchhöfer/Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Winners 2018, Race 2: Marvin Kirchhöfer/Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Niederhauser and former champion van der Linde took the championship lead for the first time this season thanks to their victory in Saturday’s race last time out at Autodrom Most. However, the super-fast Red Bull Ring is next up on the schedule where Audi have never won an ADAC GT Masters race before. Niederhauser: “I really like the track. The surroundings remind me of my native Switzerland and that’s why I feel at home. The circuit, unfortunately, does not really suit the Audi, but we will do everything we can. We should definitely be good for a finish in the Top Ten. The goal is to score as many points as we can, and if possible, defend our championship lead.”
Local driver Thomas Preining (20, A, Precote Herberth Motorsport) has also already taken a win in 2019 and leads the Austrian cohort of drivers. Together with defending champion Robert Renauer (34, GER), the Porsche Junior from Linz made a sensational debut in the ADAC GT Masters when he won Sunday’s race at the opener in Oschersleben. Fellow Austrian Klaus Bachler (27, A, Küs Team75 Bernhard) drives another 911. “I’m really looking forward to our home race,” he told us. “I think our car quite suits the Red Bull Ring, so our chances look very promising. Good brakes and aerodynamics are vital at this track, but in the tight corners, good traction and mechanical grip are also needed.” One Audi driver – Max Hofer (20, A, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) – is also part of the squad from the Alpine republic. The Austrian contingent will be completed by Mick Wishofer (19, A, Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing) in the Mercedes AMG, who recently moved up from the ADAC Formula 4.
However, Orange1 by GRT Grasser, whose team headquarters are located just a stone’s throw away from the circuit in nearby Knittelfeld will have the shortest journey to the Red Bull Ring. The outfit will field three Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evos in all. They’ve already won previously at the Red Bull Ring in 2015 and 2017 and narrowly missed another triumph last year in Sunday’s rain-hit race. The team have taken two pole positions so far in 2019 but are still waiting to claim their maiden victory. Now, the outfit managed by Gottfried Grasser, currently in second place in the team standings, intends to pull out all the stops.
Ferrari driver Sebastian Asch (32, GER) shares the drive with Luca Ludwig (30, GER), in the Ferrari 488 GT3 fielded by HB Racing, the second Austrian outfit in the field, and is also hoping for a good result: “It’s my team’s home fixture, and of course, I would like to secure a podium for them there. We’ll have to wait and see how we get on at the track which has a large number of high-speed passages, so other cars are more likely to be at an advantage. On the other hand, Luca finished second in Sunday’s qualifying last year, so it might not be too bad. At any rate, I really like the track and it suits me too. Luca and I secured our first joint podium finish in the 2015 ADAC GT Masters and went on to become champions, so that’s a good omen for this year’s race.”
Among the favourites in Styria are the two Corvette C7 GT3-Rs, which, like their predecessor, the Z06.R GT3, have already won four times on the Alpine circuit. In 2018, Callaway Competition’s American sports car triumphed in both races. One of the drivers at the time was Marvin Kirchhöfer (25, CH), who is sharing the Corvette with Markus Pommer (28, GER) for the first time this year. They are currently in second place in the standings after making a promising start to the season with two wins from the first four races. “I think it will be more difficult for us this year,” said Kirchhöfer. “So I would be very happy with two finishes in the Top Three. The Red Bull Ring is definitely one of my favourite tracks. Having a well-balanced car is vital here, because the turns are completely different. Turns 3 and 4 are very slow, so good brakes are important. Sectors two and three, on the other hand, are fluid and fast. Aerodynamics play a big role here. Of course, having plenty of power can’t hurt either at the Red Bull Ring!”
Spectators at the track in Spielberg have a fabulous programme of motor racing action to look forward to with the ADAC GT4 Germany, the ADAC TCR Germany, the ADAC Formula 4 and the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany. During the two Pit Walks (Saturday, 11.00-11.30 and Sunday, 10.35-11.20), fans can get a look behind the scenes of the ADAC GT Masters and see what goes on in the pit lane. Autograph hunters also have something to look forward to with a Meet the Drivers session in front of the ADAC Hospitality in the paddock (Saturday, at 5.20 pm).