Lamborghini leads the way in Hockenheim, title contenders poised to pounce
- Franck Perera sets fastest time in first free practice
- Formula 2 ace Luca Ghiotto makes his debut in a Lamborghini
Hockenheim. Impressive start for Lamborghini at the penultimate race weekend of the German GT Championship in Hockenheim: No fewer than three Huracán GT3 made it into the top five in the first practice session, which took place in perfect conditions, with glorious sunshine and blue sky. Lamborghini works driver Franck Perera was the fastest man in FP1. He was followed by three title contenders, in the form of former champion Jules Gounon (26/F, Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing), Lamborghini works driver Mirko Bortolotti (31/I, GRT Grasser Racing Team) and Mathieu Jaminet (26/F, SSR Performance) in a Porsche. NITRO will broadcast both races live from the iconic circuit on free-to-air TV, from 16:00 on Saturday and Sunday. They can also be watched live and without registration via a livestream at motorsport.tv and adac.de/motorsport.
Perera moved to the top of the timing sheet in the closing stages of the 45-minute session, with a time of 1:38.206 minutes. “I hope I can do the same thing tomorrow in qualifying,” joked the Frenchman, who shares the car with Rolf Ineichen (42/CH). “Unfortunately, the weather meant we lost some valuable test time on Thursday, as we are one of the few teams who have not tested here since 2020. However, we are working hard and saw today that we have improved. That is good, but we still have some work ahead of us. It will be very close again this weekend. Everyone wants to show what they are capable of at the end of the season. It will be a big battle, but the circuit ought to suit the Lamborghini.”
Second fastest was Jules Gounon. He and Igor Waliłko (24/PL) currently lie fifth in the table and have won two of the last three races. Gounon was 0.033 slower than his compatriot Perera. Mirko Bortolotti was third fastest in another Lamborghini. He clocked at time of 1:38.363 minutes in his Huracán GT3 Evo. Fourth place went to the duo currently third in the table – Mathieu Jaminet (26/F) and Michael Ammermüller (35/Rotthalmünster, both SSR Performance). Rounding out the top five were Maximilian Paul (21/Dresden) and newcomer Luca Ghiotto (26/I, both T3 Motorsport) in a third Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
New driver and new look for MRS GT-Racing
Austrian Martin Ragginger (33) is making his ADAC GT Masters comeback in Hockenheim. The three-time race winner and seven-time pole sitter in the ADAC GT Masters shares the MRS GT-Racing team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R with regular driver Maximilian Hackländer (31/Rüthen). “It is great to start in the ADAC GT Masters again. I always thought this was a great racing series, but was not able to compete in it recently due to other commitments. When I received the enquiry, I said yes immediately. The weekend will definitely be challenging, as I am not familiar with the tyres. However, I love challenges.” The team from Lonsee has also changed its look: the MRS 911 sports a striking new design this weekend. Instead of white and green, it now features the yellow and blue of Ravenol.
Aston Martin comeback
Aston Martin returns to the ADAC GT Masters this weekend. The Prosport Racing team is running a Vantage GT3 for rookies Salman Owega (16/Cologne) and Tim Heinemann (23/Fichtenberg). At 16 years, four months and 28 days, Owega, who has gained GT3 experience in the GTC Race series at ADAC Racing Weekends this year, is the youngest driver ever in the ADAC GT Masters. “Our focus is on learning this weekend,” said Tim Heinemann after the first practice session. “It is almost two years since Aston Martin raced in the series, so there is not a lot of data available. We have a lot of ground to make up in a short amount of time. However, we are making progress. It is great that I can make my ADAC GT Masters debut this weekend. Eight years ago, I was sat in the grandstands as a fan. It is special to arrive at this point via sim racing, not via karting like most of the other drivers.”
Former F1 test driver at T3 Motorsport
Former Williams Formula 1 test driver, Luca Ghiotto, is making his ADAC GT Masters debut in Hockenheim. The seven-time GT2 and Formula 2 race winner is looking forward to his first appearance: “The ADAC GT Masters is a fantastic racing series, but is also tough and of a very high standard. I do not yet have a lot of GT3 experience, so I am learning a lot here. I really like the circuit in Hockenheim, so it is great to be able to drive here. The first practice session was promising, with fifth place for my team-mate Maximilian Paul.”
New team-mate for title contender Bortolotti
Lamborghini works driver Mirko Bortolotti will be assisted in his battle for the title by Marco Mapelli (34/I) in Hockenheim. The Italian replaces regular driver Albert Costa Balboa (31/E) in the number 63 Lamborghini. Costa Balboa is in action elsewhere for Lamborghini. “My job is to support Mirko and the Grasser team, in order to make the most of any situation, with which we are confronted during the race,” said Mapelli. “Our goal is to challenge for victory in both races and to score as many points as possible in the title race.” Mapelli has made four guest appearances in the ADAC GT Masters this season. In 2019, he took victory in Zandvoort. The 34-year-old has also made a name for himself internationally: In 2019, he won both the overall and the sprint and endurance championship in the Blancpain GT Series.
Picture: Copyright ADAC Motorsport