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ADAC GT Masters, Norisring – Race Report
Street Battles

22 cars were present for last weeks third meeting of the German GT3-championship in Nürnberg - eight Porsches, six Lamborghini Gallardos, four Corvettes, two Hexis Racing Astons and one Matech Concepts Ford GT; while
Kessel-Kremer was debuting its Ferrari on the fast and technically demanding street circuit in southern Germany, that was once the home of a traditional national sportscar race and has since become a regular event of Germany’s most promoted touring car series, the DTM.

The return of the sportscars was headed in qualifying for race one by a successful debut of the Callaway Competition Corvette, starting under the entry of Toni Seiler Racing. Dominik Schwager, partnered with DTM and sportscar veteran Klaus Ludwig, put the car immediately on pole with a 52.085s laptime, but crashed the car after only six laps after a
misunderstanding with the Czech Corvette of Martin Matzke at the Grundig-Hairpin. Both cars suffered damage with the Callaway/Seiler car looking initially more severe than the Czech Z06. But both could be repaired for the next day. Second fastest in the shortened session was the Mühlner-Porsche of Jeroen Bleekemolen, heading the Argo Racing Gallardo of Sebastian Asch, whose father Roland Asch was once a well known Mercedes-competitor of Ludwig in former DTM-times at the Norisring.

Second qualifying went in favour for Marc Hennerici in the Matech Concepts Ford GT, scoring his first pole this year with the fastest GT3-time of the weekend with a 51,719s. Next was Sascha Bert in the Corvette of Callaway Competition entered under the Austrian entry of G-Private-Racing. Second row went to the two Flatex-Reiter Lamborghinis of champion Christopher Haase beating Peter Kox by just six hundredths of a second.

In the first ADAC GT-race on Saturday, the drivers showed good discipline through the first corner, avoiding the mess-ups that are common at the Grundig-Hairpin. Dominik Schwager kept the lead in the silver & white Corvette, which is the car that also won last year at the Eurospeedway and after this race is looking for a potential future at the Endurance series on the Nürburgring Nordschleife. On lap two, a collision between the spinning JvO-Porsche of Carsten Luck and the Schnabel Engineering car of Johannes Stuck took both cars out of the race.

After Christopher Haase’s teammate Albert von Thurn & Taxis stuffed his Lamborghini into the wall at the Schöller-S the safety-car came out for five laps. Schwager meanwhile maintained his lead, ahead of Asch and Bleekemolen. After the compulsory pitstop and driver change, the Matech Concepts Ford of Heyer Hennerici emerged in third position, but engine damage effectively ended its race. A similar fate hit the second Argo Gallardo of Frank Kechele /Harald Becker when 20 year old Kechele found himself at the Duzendteich Hairpin without any brake-power. He fortunately managed to force the car into a spin, limiting the damage to the Gallardo when hitting the tire wall.

At the top of the field Klaus Ludwig maintained the lead until the chequered flag, handing over a well earned win to the Callaway Competition crew after intense repairs through the night. Second, in front of around 20.000 spectators, was the Gallardo of Marius Ritskes & Jan Lammers. The two Dutchmen managed to climb up 16 positions during the race, with a charging Lammers fighting down all opponents in the closing stages of the race. The DNF's of the Ford and the Argo-Lambo meant that Tim Bergmeister, together with Marc Basseng, was the recipient of a lucky third on the podium, extending his championship lead in an unexpected way on a circuit that has not quite a Porsche layout, but instead favoured the big-engined cars like the Corvettes and the Ford.

The second race was in the beginning dominated at the front by a fight between Hennerici in the Ford and Sascha Bert in the Corvette, but the real show was presented by Klaus Ludwig who missed qualifying on Friday with the crashed Corvette. Starting from the back of the grid he gained ten positions on lap one and therefore undertook more overtaking manoeuvres than the whole DTM field during the main race hours before.

He would perhaps have made it to the very front of the field – he was on P3 already - had not the race been affected by an accident involving Peter Kox and Frank Kechele.

 Kechele experienced another brake-failure at the most unpleasant corner - the braking zone of the Grundig-Hairpin - and hit Kox’s Gallardo hard at 270kmh. Both cars hit the tyre wall; what remained of the yellow Gallardo at an estimated 160kmh. While Kox suffered leg injuries, which would later result in the withdrawal of the team from the
FIA GT round at Oschersleben, Kechele managed to get out of the car, but afterwards collapsed due to the pain of the bruises he suffered from the impacts. A post-race-check in hospital revealed that he had no further injuries, but the car must be regarded as a write off for the Lamborghini squad of Argo Racing.

With the barriers heavily damaged for the remainder of the race, the safety car phase decided the result. After the pitlane opened, despite a messy stop from Haase’s teammate, Thurn & Taxis (stalling the car at the green lights at pit exit and restarting when they turned red), his team secured second position after the resulting stop & go proved to be without effect, as it took place behind the safety-car.

Due to his mishap, the majority of the opponents lost a lap behind the SC. The stop went better for Bergmeister / Basseng who emerged in the lead behind the safety car. The Matech Concepts -Ford was again unlucky, losing P3 due to a gearbox-failure.

When the race was red-flagged after 75% of the distance, Bergmeister/Basseng took an unexpected win in front of Haase/Thurn & Taxis and Bert/Mair in the Corvette. Bergmeister has now a comfortable lead of 12 points from Haase/T&T, who were scoring their tenth podium position in the German GT-Series, while the majority of the opponents
failed to score. Fourth place went to Ludwig and Schwager, while the Czech MM-Corvette took fifth place after a fine fourth the previous day.

The next races will take place at the Dutch circuit of Assen on the 20th July.

Harald Gallinnis