The stage was set at the Hockenheimring as 18,000 spectators watched on under bright blue skies. BWT Mücke Motorsport hoped to achieve a great deal in the ADAC GT Masters during the penultimate race meet of the season at the Formula 1 track in south-west Germany. The well-proven driver pairings of Nikolaj Rogivue and Stefan Mücke in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26, Jeffrey Schmidt and Christopher Haase in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #25 and Mike David Ortmann and Markus Winkelhock in the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24 fought hard to secure decent positions for the long-established Berlin-based outfit.
The weekend’s highlights
Hunting down the field: To hunt down the field in both races was at the top of the agenda for Ortmann and Winkelhock. In the kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS bearing #24, they worked their way forwards on Saturday from 24th to 13th position. Several cars collided right at the start, but Ortmann used his skill to stay out of trouble and handed the car over in 21st place. Winkelhock also had an error-free drive during his stint, overtook some cars and even benefited from a couple of retirements. As a result, he brought the Audi home in 13th place. In addition to points, though, he now also had another warning for ignoring track limits, which meant a ten-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race. Consequently, Winkelhock only started out from 25th on the grid and finally handed over the Audi to Ortmann in P20. They gained a position during the pit stop and Ortmann worked his way up to 16th place on his stint, but unfortunately, was just out of the points. Notwithstanding that, they gained a total of 20 positions in the two races.
Easy come, easy go: Schmidt made a terrific start from 20th on the grid in the BWT Audi R8 LMS #25 on Saturday. Unfortunately, the race was stopped after less than one lap and restarted according to the original places on the grid – so all the positions that had been gained were for nothing. Nevertheless, Schmidt had worked his way forwards into 16th place by the pit stop. Thanks to clever tactics and good luck, Haase found himself in eleventh place after the driver handover and ultimately finished the race in the Top Ten, a feat that they were unable to repeat on Sunday. In conjunction with the team, Haase decided to try a different strategy in qualifying and went out to race against the clock at the very start of the session. Their tactics did not pay off, however, as he qualified 22nd. Nevertheless, he was back in 18th place before the driver handover when there was a contact with a fellow competitor, which cracked a rim on the Audi and subsequently led to a slow puncture, necessitating a change of tyre at the pit stop. In accordance with the rules, Schmidt then had to be stationary for a further ten seconds. Consequently, they were unable to finish higher than 19th in the end.
Roller-coaster of a drive: Rogivue started the race just out of the points in grid slot 16 on Saturday but had worked his way up into P14 before the pit stop, which did not go well, unfortunately, and resulted in a drive-through penalty. Stefan Mücke served the penalty shortly after changing over drivers and returned to the track in P21. Despite this setback, the crew of the BWT Audi R8 LMS #26 did not give up and had moved back up into 16th place by the chequered flag, just missing well-deserved points once more. Qualifying for Sunday’s race showed that they were making the progress that they had hoped for. Mücke started the race from 13th place with a decent finish in sight. Unfortunately, there was a contact with another competitor in Turn 1, leading to his retirement. The race stewards were of the opinion that Mücke had been responsible for the incident and he was called into the pits.
Comments about the weekend
Stefan Mücke (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “Generally speaking, it was not our weekend at all, unfortunately, but there was still much that was positive. We’ve gradually improved and Sunday morning’s qualifying was a step in the right direction. Of course, the race didn’t start as hoped. When you are just a passenger, a small contact is enough to turn your car. Obviously, no one does it on purpose, but unfortunately, it led to this unfortunate outcome. We still intend to make some small progress before the Sachsenring which is almost like another home fixture. I like racing there, as lots of fans usually come along to support us as a team.”
Nikolaj Rogivue (BWT Audi R8 LMS #26): “It was probably the toughest weekend of the season as far as I’m concerned, although the speed of the cars has improved a bit. I had the best-placed car of anyone in the team in Saturday qualifying, but unfortunately, was only 17th. My lap was perfect apart from a small mistake in sector 2. The grid position was unsatisfactory, though, but I was also best Mücke driver in the first race until the stop. However, we got a drive-through penalty, as our pit stop was a bit too short, which was unfortunate, and we finished 16th just out of the points.”
Christopher Haase (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “Unfortunately, we found the qualifying sessions tough for various reasons. One of the things was the timing. It was out. The car was good in the two races, but our initial position on the grid and an incident on Sunday prevented better results. The Hockenheim weekend was my last of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters season, as I’ll be competing in the Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup on the last weekend in September. I wish the team all the best for the Sachsenring and hope that the season can end on a high.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (BWT Audi R8 LMS #25): “Unfortunately, we were already down on pace in practice. Qualifying on Saturday did not go well either, so it was all about damage limitation in the race. We drove cleanly and worked our way up into P10. Unfortunately, the problems continued in the second qualifying. Haase had a minor contact in the race, leading to a cracked rim and slow puncture. We had to change the tyre in the pits. I did everything I could during my stint and overtook three cars.”
Mike David Ortmann (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace we’d hoped for at the weekend and it’s been missing for a little while now. During my qualifying, I experienced a combination of traffic and bad luck, but even without that, the maximum possible would have been 15th. We had an error-free drive in Race 1 and moved up into 13th, which resulted in a couple of points and limited the damage to some extent. Our race on Sunday was also badly affected with the penalty and by the way the field was closely bunched together, so not more than 16th place overall and P4 in the Junior stakes was possible. To finish on the podium there would have been some small consolation. Maybe we can find more pace before the finale and then have a nice end to the season.”
Markus Winkelhock (kfzteile24 Audi R8 LMS #24): “We were well on the pace in practice. However, we had some understeer and lacked traction to some extent. Qualifying was a pretty sobering affair. We had expected to be further up the field. In the ADAC GT Masters, it’s not easy to work your way forwards in the races. So, we’ll have to do better in qualifying. Our pace on Sunday was much better than in the first race. As regard track limits, I think action needs to be taken, because it’s not good for the series when penalties rain down on drivers and teams.”
Matthias Kieper (PR & Team Management): “Of course, the whole team had expected more from this weekend, especially since testing on Thursday had made us feel quite optimistic. My thanks go to all our team members who worked tirelessly at analysing data and fixing things. I just wish they could have got the reward for all their hard work. We will do everything we can to succeed at the Sachsenring where we’ve had some excellent weekends in the past.”
Michael Weiss (Technical Manager): “The weekend got off to a very promising start with free testing on Thursday, but unfortunately, it went the opposite way as time went by. We stumbled through with one thing after another happening, which meant a lot of work with not much in return, unfortunately. When you’re riding high and being successful, there’s nothing that can bring you down, but unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Such weekends happen in racing and the only thing to do is quickly draw a line under it and look ahead to the Sachsenring finale. There are still two lots of 25 points to be won and we will continue to work hard at it until the last chequered flag has fallen!”
Peter Mücke (Team Principal): “The weekend was tough for the whole team, as many things conspired against us, but there’s also much that was positive to take along to the final round. All three cars had the speed to be in the Top Ten in both races. We will go on the attack again at the Sachsenring and do our utmost to end the season successfully.”
Source. BWT Mücke Motorsport/Photo. Gruppe C Photography