The unofficial half-time title is at stake – and there will be spectators there to see it won. When the Sachsenring hosts the fourth round of the 2020 ADAC GT Masters next weekend (2nd – 4th October), the main contenders in the Super Sports Car League will be looking to position themselves strongly for the run-in to the real title. Thanks to the biosecurity measures put in place by the Sachsenring in consultation with the ADAC GT Masters, the health authorities have agreed to a maximum of 6,000 spectators per day being admitted to the viewing facilities at the track. After securing their first victory of the season in the most recent fixture at Hockenheim, reigning champions Patric Niederhauser (28, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing) will travel to the Sachsenring as leaders in the standings for the first time this season. But the Audi duo have the pursuing bunch hot on their heels.
Key facts, Sachsenring, Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Rounds 7 and 8 of 14
Length of track: 3,645 metres
Layout: 14 corners (four right-handers, ten left-handers), driven anticlockwise
Winners of Race 1 in 2019: Indy Dontje & Maximilian Götz (Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport-Mercedes-AMG GT3)
Winners of Race 2 in 2019: Patric Niederhauser & Kelvin van der Linde (HCB-Rutronik Racing-Audi R8 LMS)
After six races in which there have been five different race winners, we have a championship table in which the Top Three are separated by only seven points. There will be plenty of excitement when the unofficial halftime champions in the ADAC GT Masters are ‘crowned’ next weekend at the fourth of seven race events. All eyes will be on Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde, who took over at the top of the championship table at Hockenheim on 88 points. The Audi duo will be prime contenders at the Sachsenring: van der Linde is a record winner there with a total of five victories, and it is a track that really suits the Audi – the brand with the four rings has won half of all 26 races so far contested there. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport are another Audi outfit who have fond memories of the Sachsenring, with Christopher Haase (32, GER) and Christopher Mies (31, GER) each having four wins to their account at the venue. Christian Engelhart (33, GER) and Michael Ammermüller (34, GER, both SSR Performance), are currently second in the standings on 84 points. The Porsche pairing are the only drivers to have chalked up two wins so far this season. After a disappointing weekend at Hockenheim, third-placed Maro Engel (35, Monte Carlo) and Luca Stolz (25, GER, both Toksport WRT) will be keen to get back in the mix. Encouragingly for them, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has already registered three wins at the Sachsenring.
The local heroes
T3-HRT-Motorsport are hoping to have a home advantage next weekend. The team is based in Radebeul, which is just 90 kilometres away from the Sachsenring. In addition to an Audi R8 LMS, they will also be fielding the only Bentley Continental GT3 on the ADAC GT Masters grid. Seb Morris (24, GB) will be substituting for fellow works driver Jordan Pepper at the wheel of the British sports car. T3-HRT-Motorsport will also have cars competing in the ADAC GT4 Germany and the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland. The driver line-up of the Saxony-based outfit includes local favourite Maximilian Paul (20) from Dresden. David Jahn (29), who now lives in Leipzig and drives a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Küs Team75 Bernhard, also has a relatively short distance to travel to the event.
The Sachsenring at Hohenstein-Ernstthal is one of the most spectacular circuits on the ADAC GT Masters calendar. It has been used for motorsport since 1927 – in particular motorcycle racing. It started out as a ‘street circuit’ using local roads. The track we see today was opened in 1996 and is often described as a kind of ‘miniature Nordschleife’: at its steepest point, the undulating track has a gradient of 12.8 per cent. Many of the 14 corners are blind, and some of them require an act of faith. This and the Lausitzring are the only circuits on the ADAC GT Masters calendar that are driven counter-clockwise. Consequently, the Sachsenring is considered a real drivers’ circuit, which poses great challenges to contestants. The Sachsenring and the ADAC GT Masters have drawn up a series of hygiene measures to protect participants and spectators from infection over the weekend. A maximum of 6,000 fans per day will be allowed through the gates. Tickets for the Super Sports Car League are available online in advance at adac.de/motorsport. Sharing the billing with the ADAC GT Masters this weekend will be the ADAC GT4 Germany and the ADAC TCR Germany. The first round of the 2020 Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland will also be contested.
Comments ahead of the race weekend
Maximilian Paul (T3-HRT-Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): “I am looking forward to the Sachsenring. Along with the Lausitzring, this counts as our home race in the ADAC GT Masters. Even though we’ve been unable to test there, I think we have a good basic setup. The track should suit the Audi. The Sachsenring is really great and a lot of fun. It is perhaps the most challenging track on the calendar – it goes uphill and downhill, and there are many fast sections. Overtaking is not easy, which makes a good qualifying result all the more important. Our objective is to finish in the Top Ten. Our race pace has been consistently good this year, but unfortunately we’ve made a few minor errors from time to time. However, as long as everything runs smoothly, a decent result should be possible.”
Christian Engelhart (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R): “It is difficult to predict where we will stand relative to the others. We had a great start to the season with three very strong races, and we want to carry on from there. We did some testing at the Sachsenring and we hope to arrive with everything sorted out to the best of our ability. It is not easy to find the right balance there. The first sector is very slow, while the second sector is super-fast. The best overtaking opportunities are in the third sector and on the first corner. With the layout at the Sachsenring consisting almost exclusively of left-hand corners, this puts the tyres on the right under a lot of stress.
Source. ADAC GT Masters