Reigning champion Patric Niederhauser (28, CH, Rutronik Racing) got his weekend off to the perfect start, setting the best lap time in the first free practice session of the ADAC GT Masters at Hockenheim. The Swiss ace was followed by fellow Audi driver Mirko Bortolotti (30, ITA, Team WRT) and Klaus Bachler (29, AUT, Küs Team75 Bernhard) in a Porsche. The two races on the third weekend of the season will be broadcast live by free-to-air TV channel SPORT1 on Saturday and Sunday (start time 13:00 CEST).
Niederhauser, who shares an R8 LMS cockpit with Kelvin van der Linde as in the previous campaign, clocked a time of 1:39.613 minutes early on in the 60-minute session, which in itself would have been enough to keep him at the top of the timesheets. Halfway through the session, he went one better with a 1:39.541-minute lap: “Hockenheim is a special track for us. After we won the title here from pole position last year, it is obviously great to start the weekend with the fastest time. It’s also the home fixture for our team Rutronik Racing and for my team-mate Dennis Marschall. After yesterday’s test here, we changed two or three things on the car and that took us in the right direction. But of course, we know that there is nothing to be won on Friday. It’s only from tomorrow that results count.”
The Audi of Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen (42, CH) was second fastest in the session by a margin of 78 thousandths. A further ten thousandths behind was the third-placed Porsche driven by Klaus Bachler who is partnered by works driver Simona De Silvestro (32, CH). The Austro-Swiss duo will be sporting a special livery this weekend in tribute to the German motorsport legend Stefan Bellof. “The car is very good,” said Bachler with evident satisfaction. “We were at the front of the field in the tests yesterday right from the start and set the best time. This carried over into the first practice session. I am optimistic and have a good feeling. I think it’s cool that our car has a special look this weekend to remember Stefan Bellof. It’s something special.”
Two more 911s followed in the other Top Five positions. Christian Engelhart (33, GER) and Michael Ammermüller (34, GER, both SSR Performance), who are currently second in the championship standings, finished fourth ahead of fellow Porsche drivers Robert Renauer (35, GER) and Sven Müller (28, GER, both Precote Herberth Motorsport). There were no fewer than 24 cars within one second of each other.
Second outing for Joos Sportwagentechnik
After making their debut at the Nürburgring, Joos Sportwagentechnik will be back in ADAC GT Masters action at Hockenheim. This time, Michael Joos (29, GER) will share the Porsche 911 GT3 R with GT veteran Marco Holzer (32, GER).
Source. ADAC GT Masters