Will championship leaders Patric Niederhauser (29, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing) become the first drivers ever to mount a successful defence of their ADAC GT Masters title, or can strong competition take the championship away from the Audi drivers during this weekend’s grand finale at Oschersleben (6th-8th November)? There are 50 points still to be won, so anything is possible in the fight for the title in the Super Sports Car League.
Patric Niederhauser (29, CH) and Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, both Rutronik Racing, Audi R8 LMS), 150 points: These two Audi Sport drivers have the chance at Oschersleben to accomplish something that has never been achieved before in the ADAC GT Masters. Niederhauser and van der Linde could become the first drivers in the Super Sports Cars League since records began to mount a successful defence of their drivers’ title. The duo have taken one victory and three more podiums so far, but what is particularly impressive about them is their consistency. They are the only drivers in the field to have scored points in all twelve races so far. However, the two Rutronik Racing drivers will have a handicap to deal with at the weekend, as they will have to start from five positions lower down the field on Saturday after being penalised for a pit stop error at the Lausitzring. Nevertheless, Niederhauser is optimistic: “It’s all very close, of course, but our chances are good. It’s important to get the most out of every race now. Driving just to finish in the points won’t be good enough. In actual fact, everyone must mount an all-out attack. I think we’ll have to win at least one race in order to clinch the title.
Robert Renauer (35, GER, Precote Herberth Motorsport, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 145 points: The 2018 champion reduced the gap on the championship leaders to just five points last time out at the Lausitzring. Bavarian driver Renauer has taken six podiums to date, more than any other driver this season. The unique thing about Renauer among the title candidates is that he is both driver and Team Principal in one. Since Renauer’s regular partner Sven Müller will have to miss the races again due to illness, the veteran Porsche driver will share the ‘911’ during the finale with Mathieu Jaminet (26, FRA), with whom he won the ADAC GT Masters title in 2018. “We have always been pretty strong at Oschersleben in recent years,” said Renauer. The circuit should suit the Porsche, so I feel quite optimistic. It’s not necessarily the fastest car that wins the championship. You also need racing luck to win the title. The fact that I fought for the title in 2018 definitely gives me a bit of an advantage. You become aware that you are a little bit more relaxed than when you were contending for the championship for the first time. You know what to expect and that so much can happen. You just have to make sure that you don’t make any mistakes and must simply manage to do well in the last few races. I am very sorry that Sven is unable to join me in the fight for the title, because as far as what we’ve achieved goes, we did it together.”
Christian Engelhart (33, GER) and Michael Ammermüller (34, GER, both SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R), 143 points: Engelhart and Ammermüller made a strong start to the season, taking two wins from the first five races. Their two triumphs are still the season’s best. Engelhart and Ammermüller are only seven points adrift in third place. Engelhart has been the most successful of all the title contenders at Oschersleben with three wins, and his partner has also won once at the circuit there. Their outfit, SSR Performance, is new to the ADAC GT Masters but has many experienced team members in its ranks. “The championship is wide open, because it’s still very close at the top of the standings,” said Ammermüller. “We can’t afford to make any mistakes now, but that applies to all the title contenders. Everyone must achieve the maximum and secure as many points as possible. I don’t think that we’ll have a winner until Sunday. Of course, winning the title in my first year with SSR would be like a dream come true. Nothing is impossible, and we will do our best to finish on the top rung of the podium in the end.”
Luca Stolz (25, GER) and Maro Engel (35, Monte Carlo, both Toksport WRT, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo), 136 points: Stolz and Engel are contesting their first full season in the ADAC GT Masters with Toksport WRT after two strong guest starts. The two of them led the overall standings for several races after winning the season opener. Their total of five podium places is the second highest of the current season, but Stolz and Engel are battling for the title in the ADAC GT Masters for the first time. “We don’t intend to give up and will keep fighting,” said Engel. “There are still two races to go. We’ll do our utmost and then see how things go. We need to score more points and get through the races without making any mistakes. A lot can happen in the ADAC GT Masters. We have a strong car and a strong team behind us, which is why we feel very confident that we can perform at the highest level in Oschersleben, and that’s the goal.”
Max Hofer (21, AUT) and Christopher Haase (33, GER, both Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS), 109 points: Christopher Haase, the champion from the inaugural race in the ADAC GT Masters and Max Hofer, last year’s winner of the Pirelli Junior classification, also have a chance of winning the title after they secured their first win of the season at the Lausitzring, even though they are 41 points down. Still, they have fond memories of Oschersleben, because they took pole position and a win there in their very respective first seasons in the ADAC GT Masters. “We are clearly the underdogs and have to be there ready should something go wrong for the other title contenders,” said Haase. “If they make mistakes, then we have to secure as many points as possible. We intend to approach the weekend like any other. The track should suit the Audi. It’s a very technical circuit and tuning set-up to suit will be crucial. We will have to be spot on as regards hitting the set-up window bang on target in the cool temperatures to which we are unaccustomed. Many of the teams are relatively inexperienced in doing that, which could be an important factor this weekend.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters