- Rolf Ineichen/Franck Perera win the Sunday race
- Championship leaders Feller/Mies see their lead evaporate to four points ahead of finale
- Chasing pack make up ground in the title race
Hockenheim. The German GT Championship will be decided at the final round: The title race took another turn in front of busy grandstands at the penultimate race weekend in Hockenheim, as championship leaders Ricardo Feller (21/CH) and Christopher Mies (31/Düsseldorf, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) came under pressure from their pursuers. The Audi duo had to settle for seventh place in the Sunday race, while their closest rivals Luca Stolz (26/Brachbach) and Maro Engel (36/Monte Carlo, both Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT) finished third in their Mercedes-AMG to cut the gap to just four points. 13 drivers still have a mathematical chance of winning the title at the finale, which takes place from 5th to 7th November at the Nürburgring. Like Saturday, victory in Sunday’s race went to Lamborghini: This time it was Rolf Ineichen (42/CH) and Franck Perera (37/F, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) who triumphed, ahead of the Mercedes-AMG pairing of Raffaele Marciello (26/I) and Maximilian Buhk (28/Hamburg, both Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP/WWR). “That was a perfect day for us, but also a fantastic weekend for the GRT Grasser Racing Team and Lamborghini,” said former Formula 1 test driver Perera. “Winning in such a competitive series is always special.”
Key facts, Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, race 12 of 14
Circuit length: 4,574 metres
Weather: 14 degrees, sunny
Pole position: Franck Perera (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo), 1:37.696 minutes
Winners: Rolf Ineichen/Frank Perera (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo)
Fastest lap: Franck Perera (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo), 1:37.623 minutes
Impressive Perera stays out in front
Having led the way in qualifying, Frenchman Franck Perera was again in a class of his own in the first half of the race. He got off to an ideal start and then proceeded to consistently pull clear of the chasing pack, thanks to some top lap times – including the fastest lap of the race. His lead stood at almost six seconds by the time he handed the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo to his partner Rolf Ineichen on lap 19. The Swiss brought the Italian sports car home with a lead of 2.615 seconds to take a commanding victory. This was the first win of the season for Ineichen and Perera, and the second victory of the weekend for Lamborghini and the GRT Grasser Racing Team. Ineichen also won the Pirelli Trophy competition for the second day in a row.
Behind the winners, the Mercedes-AMG title contenders were battling for position. Throughout the entire race, Raffaele Marciello/Maximilian Buhk were embroiled in a scrap for second place with fellow Mercedes drivers and the second-placed duo in the championship Luca Stolz/Maro Engel, with Marciello and Buhk eventually coming out on top. For a long time, Igor Waliłko (24/PL) and Jules Gounon (26/F, both Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing) looked like making it a three-way Mercedes-AMG battle for the podium. However, having briefly climbed into second place after the round of pit stops, Waliłko dropped back into fifth place in the closing stages, behind the best-placed Porsche of defending champion Christian Engelhart (34/Starnberg) and Thomas Preining (23/A, both Küs Team Bernhard). However, fifth place was still good enough to earn Waliłko victory in the Pirelli Junior competition.
Further back, more title candidates were involved in some thrilling scraps for position. In a three-way battle for sixth place, the Porsche duo of Dylan Pereira (24/L) and Joel Eriksson (23/S, both Küs Team Bernhard) finished just ahead of championship leaders Ricardo Feller (21/CH) and Christopher Mies (31/Düsseldorf, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport), who had to settle for seventh place in the best of the Audi R8 LMS. They were followed over the finish line by the third-placed pair in the championship, Porsche works driver Mathieu Jaminet (27/F) and defending champion Michael Ammermüller (35/Rotthalmünster, both SSR Performance). The Porsche duo take a 17-point lead into the finale at the Nürburgring.
Jeffrey Schmidt (27/CH) and Marvin Kirchhöfer (27/Luzern) finished ninth in their Corvette C7 GT3-R to claim a top-ten result for Callaway Competition at the team’s home event. Behind them, David Jahn (30/Leipzig) and Jannes Fittje (22/Langenhain) from Team Joos Sportwagentechnik rounded off the top ten.
Quotes from the winners
Franck Perera: “The race was not easy, the start was crucial. I tried, successfully, to get as far in front of the chasing pack as possible. The car was really good today. Rolf also did a great job and brought the win home. The season has not been the easiest so far for the team, so I am delighted with today’s result.”
Rolf Ineichen: “Hockenheim has always suited me since my time in the Porsche Carrera Cup, and I have done an awful lot of testing here. Our car has a very good package, which works particularly well here. I knew that my half of the race would be very important for the team – we have repeatedly had to cope with setbacks this year, so it was very important to get this success. There was a lot of pressure after qualifying, but Franck gave me a good car with solid tyres and I was able to secure the win without making any big mistakes. The low sun made the light conditions difficult – in some corners, you could not see where you were going.”
Image: ADAC Motorsport