Changeable weather was once again a factor as the penultimate race weekend of the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring got underway, but it was unable to put the brakes on Kelvin van der Linde (18, ZA) or Nicki Thiim (25, DK) in their Audi R8s. The two drivers entered by Prosperia C Abt Racing, the team managed by former ADAC GT Masters champion Christian Abt, each won their qualifying heat to book pole position in the ADAC GT Masters races on Saturday and Sunday (both shown live on kabel eins from 11.45am CEST). “Pole is only one small step and doesn’t mean anything in itself, but it’s a good position to be in for the title fight,” said championship leader van der Linde after claiming his second ADAC GT Masters pole position. “Now I’m hoping for a good start in Saturday’s race.”
Qualifying 1 for Race 1 on Saturday:
An impending thunderstorm caused qualifying to get off to a hectic start, although current championship leader van der Linde seemed unruffled. The South African immediately went to the top of the timesheets and found himself sitting pretty after ten minutes of the 25 allotted to the session when it was interrupted: a contact between Albert von Thurn und Taxis (31, Germany) in the Reiter Engineering Chevrolet Camaro and Maro Engel (29, Germany) in a ROWE Racing Mercedes-Benz had left the Camaro in the gravel. While the track marshals were sorting this out, the rain set in. As it then proved impossible to set faster times on the wet track, van der Linde’s pole position was assured. “We have found a very good setup for our Audi, and everything had gone very well in free practice,” said van der Linde with a degree of satisfaction.
Lined up behind the Audi are two Porsche 911s, with Robert Renauer (29, Germany / TONINO Team Herberth) sharing the front row and Christian Engelhart (27, Germany /GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport) in third.
One driver with particular cause for cheer was Philip Geipel (27, Germany) in a YACO Racing Audi who qualified fourth in his home race, the best grid position yet for the local hero. Luca Stolz (19, Germany) in an HTP Motorsport Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG starts from fifth ahead of Claudia Hürtgen (42, Germany) in a Pixum Team Schubert BMW Z4; She and her Austrian co-driver Dominik Baumann (21) are currently placed third in the championship standings.
Qualifying 2 for Race 2 on Sunday:
On a drying track, the second qualifying heat turned out to be one of the most exciting witnessed this season. The lead changed hands eleven times during the course of the session, but in the end it was Nicki Thiim, who made it a 1-2-3 lockout for Audi, whilst notching up his second pole in successive race weekends. Starting alongside Thiim is Austria’s Daniel Dobitsch (30) in a kfzteile24 APR Motorsport Audi, and behind them in third position is van der Linde’s team-mate René Rast (27, Germany), with whom he not only shares the cockpit of his Prosperia C Abt Racing Audi but also the championship lead.
“On a wet Sachsenring, it was a balancing act between driving as fast as possible and still staying on the track,” said Rast. “The title is now uppermost in our mind, so it wouldn’t have been right to take excessive risks.”
The makeup of the second row is highly relevant to the destination of the championship winners’ trophy, with closest pursuer Jaap van Lagen (37) from the Netherlands qualifying fourth in his GW IT Racing Team Schütz Motorsport Porsche.
Sebastian Asch (28, Germany) in a Farnbacher Racing Porsche 911 starts from fifth ahead of Markus Winkelhock (34, Germany) in a YACO Racing Audi R8.