The super sports car league has started successfully for Mercedes-AMG Motorsport: in the season-opening race, Maximilian Buhk (GER) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA) managed to score an undisputed lights-to-flag win with the #70 Mercedes-AMG GT3 from the MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR while Maro Engel (GER) and Luca Stolz (GER) brought the #22 Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT car home in fifth place. In the Sunday race at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben, Engel and Stolz looked on course for victory for a long time in the rainy conditions. However, a drying track in the second half of the race prevented the second victory for a Mercedes-AMG GT3 on this opening weekend of the inaugural International German GT Championship. Jules Gounon (FRA) and Igor Walilko (POL) also contributed a strong result with the #13 Mercedes-AMG GT3 from Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing, finishing in fourth place in the action-packed Sunday race.
- Race 1: victory for #70 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR
- Race 2: 4th place for #13 Mercedes-AMG GT3 #13 of Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing
- A pair of second places and a third place for Customer Racing Teams in ADAC GT4 Germany
It was Raffaele Marciello who laid the foundation for success in the season-opening race with an impressive display in first qualifying. Early in the 20-minute session, the 26-year-old posted the fastest time at the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in 1m22.922s. Thus, the Mercedes-AMG Driver also improved his own qualifying record he had established in last year’s ADAC GT Masters season finale. In the race, Marciello converted his pole position into the lead and gradually pulled away from the field as the race went on. Even a rain shower just before the halfway point didn’t impede his dominant drive. After the driver change to Maximilian Buhk, a safety car intervention meant that the advantage was lost. Buhk, however, maintained the lead after the restart and didn’t get under pressure anymore in the remaining time. After 41 laps, the 28-year-old brought the lights-to-flag victory for the #70 MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR entry home.
Likewise, Maro Engel and Luca Stolz also put in a strong performance in the opening race with the Toksport WRT team’s #22 Mercedes-AMG GT3. At the narrow track in the Magdeburger Börde, providing hardly any opportunities for overtaking, the duo worked its way up from eighth on the grid to finish fifth. There were also championship points for Jules Gounon und Igor Walilko of the Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing, who concluded the race in 15th place with the #13 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
For the race on Sunday, Maro Engel posted the second-fastest qualifying time, securing the best starting grid position among the four cars from Affalterbach with the #22 car. At the start of the race, continuous rain made track conditions difficult. However, starting from the front row of the grid, Engel skilfully defended his second place throughout the turbulent opening stages that saw the safety car being deployed straight away. At the restart, Engel increased the pressure and moved up into the lead on the very same lap. Without the spray from a car in front of him, the Mercedes-AMG brand ambassador then pulled clear from the rest of the field. During the driver change to Stolz, the team decided to remain on rain tyres. As the track dried out surprisingly quickly as the race went on, the #22 car eventually lost the race lead with ten minutes remaining and went on to lose further positions to the slick-shod opposition. After 35 laps, Stolz still managed to bring seventh place home.
Among those who gained in the tyre gamble, meanwhile, were Gounon and Walilko in the #13 car. Having started from eighth on the grid, Gounon defended his position in the top ten until the driver change. After that, Walilko attacked while driving with slicks and quickly made up ground. Just before the end of the race, the 23-year-old even temporarily was on course for a podium finish, but then had to make do with fourth place. The #70 MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR had bad luck in the Sunday race. Just before the halfway point, the GT3 innocently became involved in a collision while running in fifth place, forcing the previous day’s race winners Buhk and Marciello to retire.
Three podium results in ADAC GT4 Germany
In the ADAC GT4 Germany races, held on the ADAC GT Masters support programme, the customer teams with the Mercedes-AMG GT4 were able to convince. Marc de Fulgencio (ESP) and Robin Falkenbach (GER) secured a pair of second places with their Mercedes-AMG GT4 run by the Leipert Motorsport team. In the Sunday race, Robert Haub (USA) and Gabriela Jilková (CZE) from Team Zakspeed managed to finish on the podium with their third place.
Maximilian Buhk, MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR (#70): “It is nice to be racing in ADAC GT Masters again. The field is very competitive. Therefore, I am even happier by being able to control the race on Saturday the way we did. Overtaking is difficult at Oschersleben. From that perspective, pole position was worth a mint, of course. However, there were some tricky moments, too, for instance when the rain set in, but Lello mastered it in a very good way. After that, I could bring victory home fairly easily while in the lead.”
Raffaele Marciello, MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR (#70): “Being on the top step of the podium again at Oschersleben is a great feeling. Victory on Saturday wasn’t as easy as it seemed. The rain shower was a challenge because grip levels were totally different in the various sectors. But thankfully, that only was a brief intermezzo. Everybody was able to stay out on slicks and after the driver change, Maxi was fully in control again.”
Luca Stolz, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT (#22): “For us, the Sunday race was extremely unfortunate. We came into the pits while in the lead and left the rain tyres on. In hindsight, that was the wrong decision, but I was also in favour of it at the time. Well, you win together and you lose together. Anyway, we are happy to still have scored some points and we will continue to charge. The season is still long.”
Maro Engel, Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT (#22): “The way the Sunday race unfolded was tough, particularly so as the team had provided us with a fantastic car. However, we can still take some positive aspects home. The performance is there and we were quick and competitive throughout the weekend. We are looking forward to striking back in the next races!”
Stefan Wendl, head of Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing: “All in all, we have had a very good ADAC GT Masters season opener. We were able to score an overall win with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and were also on the podium in ADAC GT4 Germany. All our customer teams have racked up valuable points for the championship and thus put in a promising season start. Of course, the way the race on Sunday unfolded causes some mixed feelings as well. Surely, there would have been more in store, but with the tyre gamble, it simply didn’t work out for us. In this situation, fourth and seventh place still are a decent outcome. We are looking ahead and we will be preparing for the upcoming races in the best possible way.”
Result race 1, ADAC GT Masters, Oschersleben1:
|1.||70||Mercedes-AMG GT3||MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR||Maximilian Buhk (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)|
|2.||63||Lamborghini Huracan GT3||GRT GRASSER RACING TEAM||Albert Costa Balboa (ESP), Mirko Bortolotti (ITA)|
|3.||29||Audi R8 LMS GT3||Montaplast by Land Motorsport||Ricardo Feller (SUI), Christopher Mies (GER)|
|5.||22||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT||Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)|
|15.||13||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing||Jules Gounon (FRA), Igor Walilko (POL)|
|23.||20||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing||Constantin Schöll (AUT), Hendrik Still (GER)|
Result race 2, ADAC GT Masters, Oschersleben1:
|1.||92||Porsche 911 GT3 R||SSR Performance||Michael Ammermüller (GER), Mathieu Jaminet (FRA)|
|2.||10||BMW M6 GT3||Schubert Motorsport||Jesse Krohn (FIN), Nick Yelloly (GBR)|
|3.||14||Porsche 911 GT3 R||MRS GT-Racing||Maximilian Hackländer (GER), Mick Wishofer (AUT)|
|4.||13||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing||Jules Gounon (FRA), Igor Walilko (POL)|
|7.||22||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Mercedes-AMG Team Toksport WRT||Maro Engel (GER), Luca Stolz (GER)|
|20.||20||Mercedes-AMG GT3||Team Zakspeed Mobil Krankenkasse Racing||Constantin Schöll (AUT), Hendrik Still (GER)|
|DNF||70||Mercedes-AMG GT3||MANN-FILTER Team Landgraf – HTP WWR||Maximilian Buhk (GER), Raffaele Marciello (ITA)|