Wet but great racing at Zandvoort

It was an all new experience of the 27 ADAC GT Masters cars at the Sunday race at Zandvoort.

Opposed to yesterday’s dry running, there was heavy rain for today’s race. That made Race Control give the drivers two formation laps and thereby reducing the race distance to 57 minutes plus one lap.

Schütz Motorsport Porsche #36 chose to drive into the pits after only one formation lap, and get heavy wet tires on the car, after initially running in intermediates.

GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini #19 lead the field into turn 1, while Kelvin Van Der Linde in Aust Motorsport Audi #3 pushed hard to get past Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport #84 driven by Maximilian Götz in the fight for second. But it didn’t work out and the Audi fell back to the field.

There was drama 10 minutes into the race, where Mirco Bortolotti in GRT Grasser Racing Team #19 had to enter the pits and retire. That gave the lead to Mercedes #84 ahead of Christian Engelhart in GRT Grasser Racing Team #63, and Luca Ludwig in Mercedes-AMG Team Zakspeed #21.

#21 encountered troubles after only 15 minutes, when they had a puncture on the left rear wheel. That took them out of any chance of victory.

Markus Winkelhock in BWT Mücke Motorsport Audi #24 had a trip through the grass, under the very difficult weather conditions.

Renger van der Zande in Callaway Competition Corvette #77 made a great overtaking manoeuvre on Engelhart in #63, going into the Audi S Bocht, and thereby gained second position. Engelhart might had overdone his rain tires, since he began to defend all over the track. Land Motorsport #2 made an overtaking attempt on Engelhart, followed by Kelvin Van Der Linde in Aust Motorsport Audi #3 trying to overtake round the outside. Van Der Linde hit the wet curb and slid into Engelhart, with both cars getting stuck deep in the gravel. That needed a Safety Car period for the cars to be removed, and that made the whole field close up again.

GRT Grasser Racing Team #19, Aust Motorsport #3, Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport #84
Photo: Gruppe C Photography

During that Safety Car period, the 1o minute pitstop window for the mandatory pitstop opened, and that made everybody coming into the pit. With more than 20 cars in the pitlane at the same time, there was huge panic. The cars were parked at all kind of weird angles, and in several rows. During that confusion, Audi Sport racing academy #8, HB Racing WDS Bau Lambo #7, Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport #48, Schütz Motorsport Porsche #36 and BWT Mücke Motorsport Mercedes #26 all had too short pitstop times, giving them all drive through penalties.

After the pitstop, we had Land Motorsport Audi #2 leading, ahead of Callaway Competition Corvette #77 and HB Racing WDS Bau Lamborghini #6.

The green flag was shown again with 25 minutes left of the race, and just one lap later, Connor De Phillippi in Land Motorsport Audi #1 attacked and went past the Lambo #6.

With 20 minutes left of the race, Patrick Assenheimer in Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport #84 hit the armco, after touching the wet curb, and sending the car off course. That sent the Safety Car back on track.

Fortunately it only took a couple of minutes to get the track cleared again, and then Connor De Phillippi made short work on Callaway Competition #77. That made it a Land Motorsport 1-2 lead with 15 minutes left of the race.

Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche #99 had made a great improvement through the race, after having started 18th. Robert Renauer was flying in the rain, and that combined with a Porsche, which traditionally loves rain, made him put Florian Spengler in HB Racing WDS Bau Lamborghini #6 under pressure. He had brought Mathieu Jaminet in KÜS TEAM75 Bernhard #17 in another Porsche with alongside him.

Land Motorsport #1
Photo: Gruppe C Photography

With 10 minutes left of the race, Nikolaj Rogivue put the Mercedes-AMG Team Zakspeed #20 into the gravel in turn 1, which brought out the third Safety Car of the race. The team hadn’t really been in the fight until that point, being outside top 10, after starting 13th. But it was still a great shame for the Danish/Swedish combination of Nicolai Sylvest/Rogivue. This year just hasn’t been their season.

With four minutes left of the race, race control decided to let the race resume. With 22 hungry racing drivers and just four minutes left of the race – on a wet track – was almost a sure receipt of asking for problems.

Instantly the #1 dived past their teammates into turn one, while BMW Team Schnitzer #42 tried to overtake KÜS TEAM75 Bernhard #17. The overtaking manouvre went wrong, and instead he spun around and was hit by the RWT Racing Corvette #13, and both cars had to retire on the spot, with quite heavy bodywork damage. That sent the fourth and final Safety Car onto the track, and made the time run out, and the chequered flag out.

So the race result was Land Motorsport Audi #1 winning ahead of the #2 with HB Racing WDS Bau Lamborghini #6 finishing in third. We had to go all the way down to P11 to find the best Mercedes, which was Mercedes-AMG Team Zakspeed #21, in a race, that at the start, looked to be such a good race for the German Star brand.

The race today didn’t change anything at the top of the Championship, which is still led by Jules Gounon in Callaway Competition Corvette #77 ahead of teammate Daniel Keilwitz (which was out of this weekend with a broken leg) and Philip Eng in BMW Team Schnitzer #42. Only Gounon scored points in race 2 out of the 3 drivers, since the defending Champions at land Motorsport was so far back, that even their 1-2 didn’t influence top 3.

The next round of ADAC GT Masters will be run in 2 weeks at the Nürburgring.

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