The Corvette is back in contention! After a frustrating start to the season, Markus Pommer (29, GER) and Jeffrey Schmidt (26, CH) secured a first win of 2020 for the C7 GT3-R of Callaway Competition in Race 2 at the Sachsenring. The duo were beneficiaries of a late penalty imposed on Franck Perera (36, FRA) and Albert Costa Balboa (30, ESP, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) whose Lamborghini Huracán GT3 had led the field for most of the second stint. Second place went to Charles Weerts (19, BEL) and Dries Vanthoor (22, BEL, both Team WRT) ahead of fellow Audi drivers Patric Niederhauser (28, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing), who were delighted with third place as it restored their championship lead. “At last, everything came together today,” said race winner Pommer at the finish. “Although we were actually quite competitive in the season opener at the Lausitzring, we’ve had a lot of bad luck in the last few races, with often just small things going wrong. But today, we finally had luck on our side again.”
Key facts, Sachsenring, Hohenstein-Ernstthal, Round 8 of 14
Length of track: 3,645 metres
Weather: 16°C, slightly overcast
Pole position: Dennis Marschall (Rutronik Racing, Audi R8 LMS), 1:18.293 mins
Winners: Markus Pommer & Jeffrey Schmidt (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R)
Fastest race lap: Maro Engel (Toksport WRT, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo), 1:19.694 mins
Maro Engel dominates first stint
Sunday’s race at the Sachsenring got off to an untidy start. Pole-sitter Dennis Marschall (24, GER, Rutronik Racing) in the Audi did not get away at all well, immediately dropping back to fourth place and allowing the Mercedes-AMG of championship leader Maro Engel (35, Monte Carlo, Toksport WRT), who had been next to him on the front row, to move up into P1 followed by Albert Costa Balboa in the Lamborghini. Meanwhile, there were a number of collisions in the chasing pack, which necessitated a safety car deployment to facilitate the removal of stricken vehicles. When the race restarted on the fifth lap, Engel steadily drew away from the field, and by Lap 16, he had pulled out a lead on Costa Balboa of around five seconds. However, the German then spun off into the gravel as the result of a technical problem with his car and had to retire. Costa Balboa now led the field until the driver handover. His partner Franck Perera subsequently remained in front but with only a small lead on Markus Pommer in the Corvette which Jeffrey Schmidt had advanced from sixth to third in the opening stint. Pommer then put Perera under pressure for several laps but was unable to find a way past. However, as the race was drawing to a close, the stewards imposed a 30-second penalty on the Lamborghini race leader for an offence during the second safety car period. Costa Balboa and Perera were first over the line but finished tenth in the final classification because of the penalty, thereby handing Schmidt/Pommer and the Callaway Competition Corvette their first win of the season.
Charles Weerts and Dries Vanthoor finished second with a 3.4-second deficit, giving young Weerts his third victory in the Pirelli Junior classification. Fellow Audi drivers Patric Niederhauser and Kelvin van der Linde were third, just half a second down, but a result that was still good enough to take the defending champions back to the top of the points table. Max Hofer (21, AUT) and Christopher Haase (33, GER, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport) came fourth in another R8 LMS.
Behind them came Philip Ellis (27, GB) and Raffaele Marciello (25, ITA, both Knaus-Team HTP-Winward) in the best-placed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo as they finished in front of Michael Ammermüller (34, GER) and Christian Engelhart (33, GER, both SSR Performance) in the top-performing Porsche 911 GT3 R. Henric Skoog (24, SWE) and Jesse Krohn (30, FIN, both Schubert Motorsport) in seventh place achieved the best result to date for the BMW M6 GT3. Carrie Schreiner (22, GER) and pole-sitter Dennis Marschall eventually crossed the line in eighth place. Eric Johansson (23, SWE) and Jens Klingmann (30, GER, both MRS GT-Racing) came home in P9, securing a place in the Top Ten in another BMW. Sharing the drive in the Audi with Frédéric Vervisch (34, BEL) this weekend, Rolf Ineichen (42, CH, both Team WRT) clinched victory in the Pirelli Trophy classification with twelfth place.
Comments from the winners:
Markus Pommer (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R):
“Jeffrey [Schmidt] had already laid the foundations for our good result in qualifying. The start went well for us too, although we actually thought that we would be at a disadvantage on the outside of the track. I was quicker than the Lamborghini at the beginning but was unable to get past. Towards the end, he was getting faster, and without the penalty, it would have been difficult for us to win.”
Jeffrey Schmidt (Callaway Competition, Corvette C7 GT3-R):
“A very good result, which is of course all the more gratifying as we have had a tough season so far. As early as qualifying, everything was going in our favour – we were able to set a good lap time and book ourselves a position near the front of the grid. After a lot of work this weekend, our Corvette had excellent grip and balance, which was clearly the basis of our good performance, both in qualifying and later in the race.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters