Michael Ammermüller (34, GER) and Christian Engelhart (33, GER) cruised to victory in Saturday’s ADAC GT Masters race at the Nürburgring. The Porsche duo not only chalked up the first win of the season for the 911 GT3 R but also a maiden victory for Munich-based outfit SSR Performance. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of current championship leaders Luca Stolz (25, GER) and Maro Engel (34, Monte Carlo, both Toksport WRT) crossed the finish line 0.7 seconds behind in P2. The third and final spot on the podium was secured on the final lap by last year’s champions Patric Niederhauser (28, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing) in the best of the large Audi R8 LMS contingent. “What an amazing day,” said a jubilant Michael Ammermüller. “First the pole position and now the victory. The team gave us a perfect car today.”
Key facts, Nürburgring, Nürburg, Round 3 of 14
Length of track: 3,629 metres
Weather: 22°C, cloudy
Pole position: Michael Ammermüller (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 1:26.913 mins
Winners: Michael Ammermüller & Christian Engelhart (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R)
Fastest race lap: Michael Ammermüller (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 1:28.676 mins
Ammermüller and Engelhart put in a flawless performance
The eventual winners dominated Saturday’s race at the Nürburgring right from the start. Pole-sitter Ammermüller resolutely defended his lead to emerge from the first lap just ahead of Maro Engel. Even in the early stages of the one-hour race, the two front-runners maintained a comfortable gap on the pack hunting them down. The SSR Performance Porsche and Toksport WRT’s Mercedes-AMG stayed well ahead despite a short safety car deployment to recover the Bentley of Constantin Schöll (22, AUT) and Jordan Pepper (24, ZA, both T3-HRT-Motorsport). The mandatory pit stops in the middle of the race did nothing to change the running order, as Ammermüller’s co-driver Christian Engelhart returned to the track ahead of Engel’s partner Luca Stolz and subsequently gave him no real opportunity to attack. The third-placed car was almost 15 seconds behind the two leaders when the safety car came out for a second time in the final quarter of the race following an incident involving the Audi of Rahel Frey (34, CH) and Hendrik von Danwitz (21, GER, both Aust Motorsport). At the chequered flag, Engelhart had a 0.7-second lead as he secured a maiden win for SSR Performance on only their fifth ADAC GT Masters race. For Engelhart, who was championship runner-up in 2019, this was race win number 13 and team-mate Ammermüller’s third. Maro Engel and Luca Stolz finished as runners-up, having secured a podium in each of the three races so far contested in 2020. As a result, they keep their lead in the standings – a real bonus for Toksport WRT on their home track.
Reigning champions Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde staged a series of spectacular overtaking moves over the final stages of the race to secure a first podium of the season. South Africa’s van der Linde took over the R8 LMS in eighth place and fought his way forward during the course of his stint. He managed to clinch a podium spot on the very last lap at the expense of Porsche works driver Simona De Silvestro (31, CH), who thus narrowly missed out on a first Top Three finish. Partnering Klaus Bachler (29, AUT, both Küs Team75 Bernhard), she crossed the finish line in fourth place with a deficit of just 0.9 seconds. Mick Wishofer (20, AUT) and Dorian Boccolacci (21, FRA, both Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing) came fifth in their team’s home race, a result that was enough for Wishofer to win the Pirelli Junior classification for the under-25s.
Philip Ellis (27, GB) and Raffaele Marciello (25, ITA, both Knaus-Team HTP-Winward) in another Mercedes-AMG took P6 ahead of the Porsche of Robert Renauer (35, GER) and Sven Müller (28, GER both Precote Herberth Motorsport). Birthday boy, Dennis Marschall (24, GER) and Carrie Schreiner (21, GER, both Rutronik Racing) scored points for eighth place. Ninth place went to Marvin Dienst (23, GER) and Philipp Frommenwiler (30, CH, both DLV Team Schütz Motorsport) in a Mercedes-AMG. Lamborghini works drivers Franck Perera (36, FRA) and Albert Costa Balboa (30, ESP, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) ultimately had to settle for tenth place: they had originally crossed the finish line in P5 but were handed a retrospective five-second penalty for pushing another car.
Czech driver Filip Salaquarda (36), who shares the Audi R8 LMS prepared by Team ISR with local favourite Frank Stippler (45, GER), celebrated victory number two of the campaign in the Pirelli Trophy classification.
The second race of the ADAC GT Masters weekend at the Nürburgring starts on Sunday at 13:10 CEST. There will again be some limited spectator admittance. Tickets are only available online at http://www.adac.de/motorsport.
Comments from the winners:
Michael Ammermüller (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R): “It was important to start from pole position and to exploit that to the full. We managed to do this and retained the lead. The team gave us a perfect car, and we avoided making any mistakes.”
Christian Engelhart (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Michael already put in a magnificent performance in qualifying. The race was not as straightforward as it may have looked. The Mercedes put us under constant pressure from behind. I didn’t get any opportunity to ease off and had to keep pushing all the time. I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. While I was following the safety car, I was getting a lot of pickup, but at the restart I managed a very good lap. I was very happy about that. But I was even happier when the race was over.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters