Race winners, works drivers and promising, talented youngsters: the Austrian contingent in the German GT Championship is not only big in numbers, but the eight drivers lining up at their home event at the Red Bull Ring this weekend (11th to 13th June) are also among the top favourites – and they’re out to end the ten-year drought without a home win at the alpine circuit.
With a total of eight drivers, Austria has the second largest contingent in the ADAC GT Masters field. Austrian drivers have made a lasting impression on the history of the racing series and have already claimed 20 race wins. They have also enjoyed plenty of success at the Red Bull Ring: however, the last of these successes came in 2011 when the ADAC GT Masters made its debut at the circuit. On that occasion, no fewer than three homegrown drivers made it into the winners list. This weekend, the Austrians will be extra motivated: subject to an officially-approved hygiene and infection protection concept, they will be cheered on from the grandstands by up to 3,000 fans per day.
Austrian Porsche trio
One of the favourites this weekend is Porsche works driver Thomas Preining. The 22-year-old, who won in his rookie season in 2019, returns to the ADAC GT Masters this season with Küs Team Bernhard, for whom he shares a Porsche 911 GT3 R with defending champion Christian Engelhart. “I am really motivated ahead of my home event,” says Preining. “A home race is always rather special. I will really enjoy it, particularly as a few fans are now also permitted at the circuit. I am delighted and reckon we could really be in for something special. We have prepared superbly and will really be pushing.”
The best-placed Austrian in the overall standings after the opening race weekend is Mick Wishofer. Sharing a 911 GT3 R with MRS GT-Racing team-mate Maximilian Hackländer, the man from Vienna finished third in Sunday’s race in Oschersleben to claim a spot on the podium. The 21-year-old leads the Pirelli Junior competition going into his home races. “Our goal is to score as many points as possible towards the Pirelli Junior standings,” says Wishofer. “The car is new to our team, so we will have to wait and see what is possible in the overall standings. The home event always gives you an extra boost of motivation. I hope we can put in another good performance.”
Klaus Bachler, the third man in the trio of Porsche drivers, has the shortest journey to the Red Bull Ring. With 76 starts to his name, he is currently the most experienced Austrian in the field. The two-time race winner from Unzmarkt, just 30 kilometres from the Red Bull Ring, switched to Precote Herberth Motorsport in the winter. His team-mate there is Porsche works driver Simona De Silvestro. The Swiss driver recently started at the legendary Indianapolis 500, the fastest car race in the world. “It is great to have some fans back at the track. A few of my friends and family members have already bought tickets,” says Bachler. “I think the Red Bull Ring will really suit us. We did some good analysis after Oschersleben. There were a few things that went well and a few that could have been better. That is something we will work on. If we are able to put that into practice, it could go very well. That is our goal.”
Max Hofer’s comeback
Local outfit, the GRT Grasser Racing Team, has two Austrian drivers in its ranks – but spread across two cars. Two-time ADAC GT Masters race winner Max Hofer (22) lines up alongside Germany’s Tim Zimmermann in the #82 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo this weekend. “I am really looking forward to racing in the ADAC GT Masters again,” says the driver from Perchtoldsdorf. “It is really great to start for an Austrian team at the Red Bull Ring. We have a very good package and I want to show what I am capable of.” In the number 16 car at the Austrian Formula 1 circuit is Clemens Schmid. The Jochen Rindt fan from Gries am Brenner shares the wheel of the Italian GT3 sports car with Mike David Ortmann. The GRT Grasser Racing Team’s headquarters are located close to the racetrack in Knittelfeld. “There is great anticipation. We have a very quick car, as you could see in Oschersleben. I can hardly wait to go racing.”
Two Austrians for Yaco Racing
Yaco Racing is putting its faith in an all-Austrian pairing this season. At the wheel of the Audi R8 LMS are the experienced Norbert Siedler (38) and youngster Simon Reicher (21). Siedler has fond memories of the Red Bull Ring: the driver from Wildschönau won in 2011 when the ADAC GT Masters made its debut at the circuit. As such, he is the only “local hero” in the current field to have won on home soil. His team-mate Simon Reicher is the youngest Austrian on the grid. Having made a few guest appearances in 2021, the student from Kirchberg bei Mattighofen is now contesting his first full season in the German GT Championship. Ahead of the home race weekend for its drivers, Yaco Racing have completely dismantled the Audi, had it inspected by Audi, and then rebuilt it again. “In principle, there it makes no difference whether we race at the Red Bull Ring, in Oschersleben or at the Nürburgring,” says Reicher. “We, the team and drivers, have to produce a perfect performance. The Red Bull Ring is a bit different for us. Emotional aspects come into play there. You are at home, in your own country, at your home circuit. That makes you all the more determined to do your best.”
The eighth Austrian in the field is Constantin Schöll. This is his second year in the championship. The 22-year-old from Vienna lines up in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by the Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing team for the first time this year. His partner behind the wheel is Germany’s Hendrik Still. “You always expect more at your home event,” says Schöll. “I know the circuit really well and we also tested there not so long ago. We are well prepared and I am ready to go. I am intrigued to see what the weather will be like. It could rain, which would probably give us an advantage.”
Source. ADAC GT Masters