Ultimately, fourth place in the final round at Oschersleben was enough for Porsche drivers Michael Ammermüller (34, GER) and Christian Engelhart (33, GER, both SSR Performance) to clinch their first ever ADAC GT Masters title. The race itself was won from pole position by Philip Ellis (28, GB) and Raffaele Marciello (25, ITA, both Knaus-Team HTP-Winward) in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Second place went to the Audi duo of Rolf Ineichen (42, CH) and Mirko Bortolotti (30, ITA, both Team WRT) ahead of Robert Renauer (35, GER) and Mathieu Jaminet (26, FRA, both Precote Herberth Motorsport) in a Porsche 911. “Winning the title is a tremendously emotional experience for me,” said newly crowned champion Christian Engelhart. “I wept tears of joy when Michael crossed the finish line, because I’ve always dreamed of winning the ADAC GT Masters. It’s unbelievable that we’ve actually done it.”
Early retirement for reigning champions
The battle for the title in the final race began in spectacular fashion. Several cars collided at the start on the main straight. The most prominent casualty was Kelvin van der Linde (24, ZA, Rutronik Racing), who had gone into the race second in the standings; he was obliged to park up his heavily damaged Audi R8 LMS after only a few seconds. And so the dream of successfully defending the title was abruptly over for the South African and partner Patric Niederhauser (29, CH). The leader in the standings, Porsche driver Christian Engelhart (33, GER, SSR Performance), also had a fright on the first lap while lying in third place when a blow from the Lamborghini driven by Albert Costa Balboa (30, ESP, GRT Grasser Racing Team) sent him into a spin. He retrieved the situation, though, and was able to continue. Just a few seconds later, the race was red-flagged to facilitate the recovery of vehicles stranded on the pit straight.
Pole-sitter Raffaele Marciello led the field after the restart but was under constant pressure from Audi driver Mirko Bortolotti until the pit window opened. Engelhart to their rear was running third. Marciello’s partner Philip Ellis rejoined the track in P1 and steadily pulled away from Rolf Ineichen, who had taken over from Bortolotti. Ellis eventually took the chequered flag with a 17.699-second lead. This was a maiden ADAC GT Masters victory for Marciello, while for Ellis it was his second after Oschersleben in 2018.
Bortolotti and Ineichen finished on the podium as runners-up for the second time this season. Ineichen chalked up his second victory of the weekend in the Pirelli Trophy classification. Third place went to Robert Renauer and Mathieu Jaminet after they had overtaken fellow Porsche drivers Ammermüller and Engelhart in the closing stages. P4 was still sufficient to hand the two SSR drivers their first title in the Super Sports Car League by a nine-point margin over runner-up Renauer. The new champions had the added satisfaction of knowing that SSR Performance had wrapped up the team classification.
Luca Stolz (25, GER) and Maro Engel (35, Monte Carlo, both Toksport WRT), who went into the race still in with a chance of winning the title, finished fifth and, as a result, ended the campaign third overall. Mick Wishofer (21, AUT) and Dorian Boccolacci (22, FRA, both Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing) in another Mercedes-AMG followed them across the line in sixth place. Wishofer also secured the win in the Pirelli Junior classification. Audi drivers Charles Weerts (19, BEL) and Dries Vanthoor (22, BEL, both Team WRT) took P7 ahead of David Jahn (29, GER) and Jannes Fittje (21, GER, both Küs Team75 Bernhard) in another 911. Fittje just missed out on the Pirelli Junior title; this went to Lamborghini driver Tim Zimmermann (24, GER, GRT Grasser Racing Team) despite his DNF after being wiped out at the start. Rounding out the Top Ten were Indy Dontje (27, NL) and Maximilian Götz (34, GER, both Mann-Filter-Team HTP-Winward) in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo and the Audi pairing of Ricardo Feller (20, CH) and Stefan Mücke (38, GER, both BWT Mücke Motorsport).
Comments from the champions:
Michael Ammermüller (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R):
“SSR Performance have put together a great team in their first season. Team founder Stefan Schlund definitely chose the right people, which was the basic prerequisite of the success we’ve had. In Christian, I have a great team-mate at my side. We made hardly any mistakes over the whole season, and we can be really proud of what we’ve achieved.”
Christian Engelhart (SSR Performance, Porsche 911 GT3 R):
“There was a lot going on at the start. I caught a blow, spun and lost a lot of positions as a result. Fortunately, the red flags came out at that point. At the restart, I had everything under control. I was nursing the tyres, so it wasn’t at all easy to keep up with the Audi in front of me.”
Comments from the winners:
Philip Ellis (Knaus-Team HTP-Winward Motorsport, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo):
“My race was relatively unspectacular. I managed to pull away from the Audi and then concentrated on finishing OK. It was important not to make any mistakes and to observe the track limits. Raffaele did most of the work, and I’m extremely grateful to him. We broke our run of bad luck yesterday and at last had a trouble-free weekend.”
Raffaele Marciello (Knaus-Team HTP-Winward Motorsport, Mercedes-AMG GT3):
“I had a great start and then got into an enjoyable scrap with Mirko [Bortolotti]. Because overtaking is so difficult at Oschersleben, we were able to defend our position at the front and bring home the victory today. We had a flawless weekend without major incidents or controversial situations. The key to success was a trouble-free race weekend.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters