Busy time of the year: Just one week after Zandvoort, BWT Mücke Motorsport was back in ADAC GT Masters action at the Nürburgring. The circuit set amid the rolling hills of the Eifel had been the scene of wins and podiums in the Super Sports Car League for the team in previous seasons, and the Berlin based outfit was eager to build on its solid record there. The driver pairings tasked with getting the results were Stefan Mücke and Nikolaj Rogivue in the number 26 BWT Audi R8 LMS, Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase in the number 25 Audi R8 LMS, and Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock in the number 24 kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS..
Highlights of the weekend
Junior podium and points: Just before Sunday’s race, the heavens opened on the Nürburgring, a familiar phenomenon in the Eifel. For Haase in the number 25 BWT Audi R8 LMS, however, this was very welcome, as it boded well for a decent result. The 2007 ADAC GT Masters champion (winner of the series in its inaugural season) qualified tenth, raising hopes of a respectable points haul, which he duly secured in the race. Despite numerous wheel-to-wheel challenges and temporary losses of position, Haase (and later Schmidt) kept a cool head to finish tenth. As well as the championship points scored, the Top Ten result was enough for Schmidt to ascend the podium for a P3 in the Junior classification. A similar happy outcome had been denied to the duo on Saturday. Starting from 18th on the grid, Schmidt battled his way forward after a less than optimal start. The elation was not to last, however, as he was hit by an opponent and spun off onto the grass, which dropped him down the field to last but one. Neither he nor later Haase threw in the towel, but after that incident, P21 was the best they could manage.
Changeable, just like the Eifel weather: The number 26 BWT Audi R8 LMS struggled all weekend. On Saturday as well as Sunday, Rogivue and Stefan Mücke each booked P25 on the grid. A major handicap in the highly competitive ADAC GT Masters field of contestants. In the first race, the duo worked their way up to 20th position. In the second race, a much better result might have been on the cards but, shortly after the pit stop, Rogivue was spun round by another driver and dropped a long way back down the field. He eventually crossed the finish line in 21st position, which meant a weekend with zero points.
Obstacle race through the field: In the Sunday race, Winkelhock and Ortmann in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS were obliged to mount a challenge from much further back than they would have liked, but they did so with some degree of success. Starting from 16th position, Winkelhock initially lost a position in the chaos of the first corner, but he then regained it in the course of his stint. By virtue of good tactics and with an element of luck, Ortmann finished eleventh and scored important points. The only disappointment of the day was that he came fourth in the Junior classification and narrowly missed out on another podium. On Saturday, Ortmann had qualified in 21st position. From there, he fought hard and handed the car over to Winkelhock 20th place. Winkelhock gained one more position in his stint and finished the race in 19th position.
Comments on the race weekend
Stefan Mücke (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “Unfortunately, our weekend turned out to be as mixed as the weather. We cannot be satisfied with the two qualifying sessions, because we did not show our potential in either. Of course, this is always decisive for the races themselves. We improved a bit in both races. Also, Nikolaj got spun round by an opponent on Sunday, otherwise we might have done better. We had been hoping for light rain on Sunday so that we could use tyre strategy to get something out of the race. Overtaking at the Nürburgring is in any case difficult. Qualifying didn’t go so well in the rain, but we realised what the problem was and were then well prepared for similar conditions in the race.”
Nikolaj Rogivue (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “In the dry, unfortunately, we were lacking straight-line speed, which was noticeable in my qualifying session. In addition, I made a major error on my flying lap, which meant I only qualified in P25. But even with a perfect lap, anything better than 20th would have been a problem. Anyway, we fought back well in the race. In Sunday’s qualifying, we probably didn’t have the best of strategies for Stefan in the wet, which is why we once again found ourselves starting from 25th. After I took over the car from him, we were well placed until I was wiped out by a Corvette and a BMW and ended up at the back of the field again. Ultimately, it was a tough weekend for us.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “That wasn’t the easiest of weekends for us. We had an okay race on Sunday, but things did not go so well for us on Saturday. Jeffrey got spun round in the race, which robbed us of any chance of a Top Ten result. Qualifying for the second race in the rain went okay, with tenth place on the grid. I was happy with that. We finished tenth. I feel sure that more might have been possible, but Jeffrey was hit by an opponent. Totally unnecessary. A P8 or a P9 finish would otherwise have been a realistic prospect, but P10 is okay, especially for Jeffrey and the Junior championship. We did our best, but we still have a lot to do in preparation for the next race weekend at Hockenheim.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “Unfortunately, we were lacking pace this weekend, which meant that we weren’t able to challenge as hard as we had hoped. Then we had two contacts with opponents, after which our car was carrying a bit of damage. Although we came away from the Nürburgring with a few championship points and a Junior podium, we definitely wanted more. I hope we can turn things around in my home race at Hockenheim.”
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “In qualifying on Saturday, we were unfortunately not able to get the tyres into their working window. We had already noticed that on Friday during free practice. In the race, there was absolute chaos on the first couple of laps. I was involved in some minor collisions that were pretty much unnecessary. I always left enough room in any overtaking situation where I could see that I wasn’t going to hold off an opponent. In the circumstances, I find it really pointless for them to drive into my car. But everyone has to realise that for themselves. On Sunday, we made up some ground with a P11 finish. It’s a bit disappointing that I was just short of a podium, with fourth place in the Junior classification.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “We were struggling with lack of grip, especially on the rear axle and even more so on new tyres. In my quali, I also had some problems with traction, which ended up with a somewhat disappointing P16 on the grid. My start was also mediocre. I got stuck behind another car and even lost a position. I was able to work my way back into the race and, thanks to good strategy and a strong second stint by Mike, we eventually finished eleventh. With the points we scored, we made the best of our starting position. But of course, that was not the weekend we had planned for ourselves after Zandvoort.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “We went to the Nürburgring with fond memories of previous years, and we obviously wanted to build on the great results we’ve had there in the past. We knew that it wasn’t going to be easy, and unfortunately, our worst fears were confirmed. Anyway, we improved over the weekend and will, of course, carry this upbeat mood over to the next race weekend. A special thank you to our entire crew: even when things weren’t going entirely to plan, everyone kept their chin up and carried on working tirelessly.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Director): “We were quite satisfied with the results of the free test and the free practice sessions. However, we were lacking straight-line speed. We have to analyse the reasons for that. We’ve traditionally been strong here in the past. The first race was pretty unspectacular for us. In qualifying on Sunday, we had the potential to make it into the Top Five, but we didn’t get everything together perfectly. By virtue of good strategy, though, we made up lost ground. There was some great wheel-to-wheel action, and we really deserved our Junior podium. Ultimately, it wasn’t such a bad weekend.”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “The weekend didn’t get off to the best of starts for us, but towards the end, the performance was there. One of the Audis in the field is in a different class to the rest. But we were certainly competitive in relation to the others. On that basis, we have to do better in qualifying, then we’ll get more out of the races themselves. We have worked hard over the summer break, and we will continue to do so.”
Source. Mücke Motorsport/Phot. Gruppe C Photography