Thrilling title race: Home stretch in the German GT Championship in Hockenheim
- Audi duo Feller and Mies hold two-point lead at the top of the table
- Aston Martin returns to the ADAC GT Masters
- Fans welcome in the grandstands and the paddock
Munich. It doesn’t get much closer than this: Championship leaders Ricardo Feller (21/CH) and Christopher Mies (31/Düsseldorf, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) hold a slender two-point lead going into the penultimate race weekend of this season’s German GT Championship. The title race looks set to become even hotter in Hockenheim this weekend (22nd to 24th October). Fans can look forward to a thrilling race weekend, at which Aston Martin returns with the Vantage GT3, adding to the diversity in the field of roughly 30 super sports cars. Fans can follow the races from the grandstands and the open, fan-friendly paddock. Tickets for the race weekend are available online at adac.de/motorsport. The cost of a day ticket starts at € 22.50 for ADAC members (€ 25 for non-members), while admission is free for children aged 12 and under. NITRO will broadcast both races live on free-to-air TV, from 16:00 on both Saturday and Sunday. They can also be watched free and without registration in a livestream at motorsport.tv and adac.de/motorsport.
Key facts, Hockenheimring, Hockenheim, races 11 and 12 of 14
- Circuit length: 4,574 metres
- Layout: 17 corners (nine right and eight left-handers), driven clockwise
- 2020 winners, race 1: Christian Engelhart/Michael Ammermüller (SSR Performance-Porsche 911 GT3 R)
- 2020 winners, race 2: Patric Niederhauser/Kelvin van der Linde (Rutronik Racing-Audi R8 LMS)
Championship leaders Feller/Mies have seen their advantage at the top of the table evaporate recently. The second-placed pairing of Luca Stolz (26/Brachbach) and Maro Engel (36/Monte Carlo, both Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT) are now almost level with the Audi duo. After five second places in the last six races, the two Mercedes-AMG works drivers have their sights set on the long-awaited race win and the championship lead. That is no easy task, by the way, as the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has yet to record a victory in Hockenheim in the ADAC GT Masters. Audi, on the other hand, can look back on a different record: with eight wins to its name, Audi is the most successful manufacturer there. With victory number three of the season, defending champions and last year’s winners in Hockenheim Michael Ammermüller (35/Rotthalmünster) and former champion Mathieu Jaminet (26/F) recently underlined their title ambitions in the SSR Performance Porsche 911 GT3 R. Mercedes-AMG has another two rapid duos in contention in the title race, in the form of Raffaele Marciello (26/I)/Maximilian Buhk (28/Hamburg, both Mann-Filter Team Landgraf – HTP/WWR) and Igor Waliłko (24/PL)/Jules Gounon (26/F, both Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing), who are currently fourth and fifth in the championship respectively. Lamborghini works drivers and sixth-placed Mirko Bortolotti (31/I) and Albert Costa Balboa (31/E, both GRT Grasser Racing Team) are also gunning for victory in Hockenheim. The track suits the Huracán GT3: the Lamborghini’s most recent ADAC GT Masters victory came at the Hockenheimring in 2019.
Hockenheim a high-speed circuit and a guarantee of exciting racing in the ADAC GT Masters. The former Formula 1 circuit is the longest and second-fastest track on the calendar. Approaching the tight hairpin after the Parabolica, the speedometer reaches 270 km/h, the highest top speed of the whole season – a breath-taking experience for drivers and fans alike.
Markus Winkelhock is quite possibly in the most important week of his life: On Sunday, he won the 8 Hours of Indianapolis for Audi together with former champions Christopher Haase and Patric Niederhauser. However, one date could be even more important for the former Formula 1 driver ahead of his home outing this week, as his partner is expecting their first child together. He will then line up in with Florian Spengler (33/Ellwangen) in the R8 LMS of Car Collection Motorsport in the ADAC GT Masters at the weekend. The two Swabian drivers have been in good form of late, and claimed their best result of the season at the Sachsenring. Another man looking forward to his home event is Porsche driver David Jahn (30, Team Joos Sportwagentechnik). The 2016 winner at the 4.574-kilometre circuit comes from nearby Speyer. Audi Sport driver Dennis Marschall (25/Eggenstein) is on home soil at the track near Hockenheim, as is his racing team Rutronik Racing from Remchingen. Rookie and ADAC Stiftung Sport driver Luca-Sandro Trefz (19/Wüstenrot, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport) will also be counting on a car with four rings. Hockenheim is also a home race for Callaway Competition, from Leingarten near Heilbronn, who developed the US steam hammer C7 GT3-R there. Sports car star Timo Bernhard’s outfit, Küs Team Bernhard, has won victory to its name at its home event. Among those racing for the team in Hockenheim this year is defending champion and last year’s winner Christian Engelhart (34/Starnberg).
There is a packed programme for fans in Hockenheim, in the grandstands and the open, fan-friendly paddock: Audi is exhibiting the new R8 LMS evo II and its TCR car for the 2022 season, the RS 3 LMS. BMW is presenting its new M4 GT3, and Toyota, making its first appearance in ADAC GT4 Germany, will showcase the GR Supra GT4. A must for fans are the “Meet the Drivers” autograph session (Saturday, 11:50) and the popular pit walks (Saturday, 11:10 and Sunday 10:50). During the open pit lane on Saturday evening (from 17:45), spectators can watch the online magazine “PS on Air – The Ravenol ADAC GT Masters Talk” live (20:00). The eBay Box, from which the latest episode of “ADAC GT Masters Backstage” will be broadcast on Sunday, offers fascinating insights into what goes on in the pit lane. The nine-metre eBay Tower provides spectacular views of the racetrack. One port of call for ADAC members in the paddock is the ADAC Vorteilswelt Lounge. Here, ADAC members can receive free coffee from Vorteilswelt partner Eni. They can also charge their mobile phones and surf the Internet with free Wi-Fi, or find out more about the diverse offerings of the ADAC Vorteilswelt.
The support programme in Hockenheim is a spectacular one: ADAC GT4 Germany starts with a record field of 33 cars from eight manufacturers, while the attractive ADAC TCR Germany field has also grown to roughly 20 touring cars. The talented youngsters in ADAC Formula 4 always produce plenty of action, while the title will be decided in the Porsche Carrera Cup Deutschland: the Hockenheimring hosts the final round of this season’s one-make cup.
Quotes ahead of the race weekend
Ricardo Feller (Montaplast by Land-Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS): “We definitely have a chance of winning the title, but it will not be easy. My personal goal is to finish in the top five twice in Hockenheim and to score a healthy amount of points. The circuit suits the Audi, the R8 has always been very good there in the past. However, the Mercedes-AMG are giving me a bit of a headache, as I believe they are very strong there. As the circuit is not far from Switzerland, there are always a lot of friends, guests and family there. That gives me extra motivation. As such, I always like travelling to the ADAC GT Masters event in Hockenheim.”
Luca Stolz (Mercedes-AMG-Team Toksport WRT, Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo): “Many people had already written off our title hopes, and now we are second in the table again. However, we are still taking it one race at a time, ensuring that we perform well and get things right in qualifying. We want to be in contention for the podium again, even if this is not the happiest hunting ground for Mercedes-AMG. Porsche is usually strong there, Audi is always well represented, and Corvette will be on top form. However, anything can happen. If it is a wet race, the cards will be reshuffled. I hope a lot of fans come, then it will be a good weekend.”
Albert Costa Balboa (GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo): “After our misfortune and my mistake at the start of race two at the Sachsenring, it will not be easy for us in the title race. However, nothing is impossible, as there are still a maximum 112 points up for grabs, and we trail the leaders by 31 points. We will not give up. Hockenheim is a good track for us. We had a good car there last year, and it should be even better this year. I am very motivated and want to give Mirko and the team something back, in order to keep our title hopes alive right down to the finale. I like Hockenheim, the circuit is fantastic, and there are always a lot of fans.”
Picture: ADAC Motorsport