There’s no place like home: When the German GT Championship stages its season finale at the Nürburgring this weekend (5th to 7th November), it will feature a host of local favourites looking to shine at their home event – including such successful teams as Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing and Phoenix Racing. However, title contenders Christopher Mies (32/Düsseldorf, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) and Luca Stolz (26/Brachbach, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT), and seasoned sports car driver Pierre Kaffer (44/Schlieren, Rutronik Racing by Tece) also line up on their own doorstep in the Eifel region.
Phoenix Racing with two Audi R8 LMS
One of the most successful racing outfits in the Eifel region is Phoenix Racing. The team, which is based next to the Nordschleife in Meuspath, can list five victories in the 24-hour race among its successes. Phoenix has doubled its squad for this year’s home outing. As well as the car for regular drivers Jusuf Owega (19/Cologne) and Patric Niederhauser (30/CH), the team will also run a second Audi R8 LMS for Cologne-based youngster Salman Owega, at 16 years the youngest driver in the field, and Audi Sport driver Mattia Drudi (23/I). “Racing at the Nürburgring is obviously always special for us,” says team manager Jean-Luc Tille. “As such, there is great anticipation, particularly as we claimed our best result so far on our last outing in Hockenheim. We want to back that up and challenge for good results with both cars. Jusuf and Patric have what it takes to get top results. We are pleased to be running a second car at the finale. It is the icing on the cake at the end of Salman’s first season in a GT3 car. He now has another opportunity at the Nürburgring to establish himself against the best drivers on the GT3 scene. In Mattia Drudi, he also has an experienced team-mate, from whom he can learn a lot.”
Also lining up in an Audi is works driver Pierre Kaffer. The fact it is a home event is not the only reason this is a special weekend for the 44-year-old, who was born in Bad Neuenahr-Ahrweiler and shares an R8 with Elia Erhart (33/Röttenbach): “It is my birthday on Sunday, so there will some friends and fans at the circuit. Our form has really improved recently. We obviously want to back that up and head into the winter break with a nice result. The weather could play a key role at the weekend. Low temperatures are expected, which means it will be particularly important to get the tyres up to temperature, which will definitely be a challenge.”
Two wins this season already for Zakspeed
The iconic Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing team also starts on home soil at the weekend. The team’s headquarters in Niederzissen are only about half an hour from the Nürburgring. With the duo of Igor Waliłko (24/PL) and Jules Gounon (26/F), 2017 ADAC GT Masters champion and Mercedes-AMG works driver, Zakspeed still has an outside chance in the title race, thanks largely to two race wins this season. At the wheel of the second car is a true local hero: rookie Hendrik Still from Kempenich. “I am really looking forward to ending the season at my home circuit,” said the 34-year-old, who shares the car with Austrian Constantin Schöll (23). “I know the Nürburgring inside out, as it is where I started my career. The circuit ought to suit the Mercedes-AMG. My goal is to qualify in the top ten and then get a good race result. That would be a nice way to end the season.”
In Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Toksport WRT and Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP-WWR, a further three teams are among the title contenders at their home race weekend. Land-Motorsport leads the Drivers’ Championship with Audi Sport racer Christopher Mies and Ricardo Feller (21/CH). In the Team competition, the outfit from Niederdreisbach lies just one point behind the leaders. Also in the thick of the title race is Mercedes-AMG driver Luca Stolz. The 26-year-old and his partner Maro Engel (36/Monte Carlo) trail Mies and Feller by just four points. What could be better than to claim their first win of the season at their home event? Their team, Toksport WRT, has one of the shortest trips to the racetrack, which lies less than ten kilometres from the workshop in Kelberg. The Landgraf Motorsport team, from Gensingen in the Rhineland-Palatinate, is fourth in the table with its drivers Raffaele Marciello (26/I) and Maximilian Buhk (28/Hamburg, both Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP/WWR).
Source. ADAC GT Masters