Jordan Witt’s maiden visit to the Hockenheimring in Germany for round two of the 2021 Fanatec GT2 European Series on Saturday, 15th May, proved a somewhat bittersweet occasion for the Toro Verde GT driver – the Cheshire racer limited to a weekend best of fifth place in the Pro-Am class.
Arriving at the renowned track with no prior testing or race experience there, the 30-year-old from Nantwich quickly got down to business in free practice on Friday, 14th May, to lap inside the top three at the wheel of the No.9 Lamborghini Huracan Supertropheo GT2 car.
Determined to build on that in the second session and qualifying with team-mate David Fairbrother, things went awry in the former when mechanical woes prevented any true running. In qualifying, an excursion for Fairbrother in session one meant Witt couldn’t participate in session two.
As a result, Fairbrother had to start an incident-packed wet-and-drying race one on Saturday morning from ninth on the grid. Despite lively action along the way, the duo ended the 50-minute contest sixth in Pro-Am with Witt nursing a set of well-worn treaded Pirelli tyres at the finish.
In race two less than three hours later, Witt started from 11th on the grid and produced a superb first lap to gain four places. Keeping the Toro Verde GT entry well in the mix for a season-best result, running in fourth with 30 minutes to go, Fairbrother completed the race fifth in Pro-Am.
“It was a weekend of ifs and maybes to be honest”, said Vibe Audio, Yelir World and Pall-Ex supported racer Witt, “After the mechanical issues in practice we didn’t really find a perfect set-up, so we were always on the back foot thereafter really. Qualifying didn’t go to plan, obviously, so then we had to work double-hard in the races to try and create a result.
“I was hoping we’d have more rain actually to even the playing field a little more in the races, but it didn’t work out that way unfortunately. There’s so much potential in the car and with the team, as soon as we can get a straightforward weekend without any difficulties I know the pace is there to challenge for the podium. I really did enjoy my first experience of Hockenheim, it’s a great track.”
Positives to take from maiden Hockenheim visit for Witt and Toro Verde
While qualifying was ultimately incredibly frustrating, confidence remained high for both races and Fairbrother started the first from the fifth row. Making a good launch on the wet track to quickly grab eighth, within a couple of corners he was seventh and he continued his rapid ascent through the order to slice into fifth out of Turn Three.
Then, on the charge to the hairpin, he was later on the brakes than his rivals to leap into third with a fantastic pass through the centre of the pack. Near the end of lap two, Sehdi Sarmini spun his KTM X-Bow out of second position and Fairbrother duly went through. The next time around, though, he was edged back to third by the Porsche 911 of Aurelijus Rusteika.
Things then got much more dramatic for the No.9 Lamborghini. First, Fairbrother ran wide through the gravel on lap four – before a fairly lengthy Safety Car period due to Sarmini’s car hitting the wall at the hairpin. After racing resumed on lap 11, there was an unfortunate tangle between the Toro Verde GT car and the KTM of Kris Rosenberger under braking.
Fairbrother eventually pitted at the end of lap 13, with only around 20 minutes remaining, and Witt joined the action on the drying track but on the same treaded tyres. When the order settled he was fifth overall and fourth in Pro-Am, before moving into the outright top four on lap 16.
Witt lapped faster than the two cars ahead, but he was also being hunted down by the KTM of Peter Kox which was markedly quicker having changed to fresh slick tyres. Edged back to fifth again on lap 18, a subsequent incident with another of the KTMs led to a spin and a slip to sixth position for Witt.
Recovering strongly, he caught and passed Oliver Freymuth’s Lamborghini for fifth on lap 22 where he stayed to the flag. Post-race, though, a penalty – linked to the incident between Fairbrother and Rosenberger – dropped the Toro Verde duo to seventh overall and sixth in Pro-Am.
Lining-up on the sixth row of the grid for the dry second race, Witt made a tremendous start and gained two places into ninth even before the field arrived at Turn Two. Moving up into seventh out of Turn Three, he then latched onto the back of the top six train – a spectacular first lap.
Chasing the legendary Hans Stuck, Witt chipped away at the KTM driver but on lap five both moved up a spot when Bert Longin was put wide out of third. Now in sixth overall and pressuring Stuck, after a couple of aborted attempts Witt made his move into the hairpin on lap eight. Stuck, though, hit back on the exit but Witt wouldn’t be denied and a couple of corners later he was through.
Holding fifth overall and in Pro-Am, Witt then moved up into fourth with just under half an hour remaining when Kox had to serve a drive-through penalty. Witt pitted with just over 20 minutes to go and Fairbrother emerged back on track in fourth place. Staying there until lap 21, he ultimately slipped back to fifth in Pro-Am and seventh in the outright classification.
Silverstone Grand Prix Circuit was originally scheduled to host the third round of the Fanatec GT2 European Series but has been replaced by Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli in Italy. The fifth and sixth races of the 2021 season will take place over the weekend 3rd/4th July.
GT2 European Series ‘Pro-Am’ Standings (after Rd2)
5th Jordan Witt & David Fairbrother, 28pts
Source. Marc Orme/Photo. SRO Motorsports Group