– Oliver Runschke, photos ADAC
• Callaway Competition driver goes fastest in first Practice Session
• Austria-based teams in close pursuit
• Four brands in positions one to four
Corvette driver Marvin Kirchhöfer (24, GER, Callaway Competition) excelled in the first free practice session of the ADAC GT Masters at the Red Bull Ring, clocking the fastest lap and reaffirming the status of the US sports car as favourite for this fastest track on the calendar.
However, the gap to his closest pursuers was a mere 0.074 seconds. The two Super Sports Car League races in Austria will be shown live and in full length on Saturday (from 12:45 CEST) and Sunday (from 13:00 CEST) by SPORT1. Alternatively, they can be watched online via the livestreams provided by sport1.de, adac.de/motorsport and youtube.com/adac.
A Corvette has already won six times in the ADAC GT Masters since 2013 at the Red Bull Ring. This year, the race weekend once again got off to a promising start for the American muscle car.
Marvin Kirchhöfer, from Kleeberg in Saxony, driving the C7 GT3-R entered by Callaway Competition set the best time on the Austrian track in a first free practice session that was blessed with sunshine and temperatures around the 26°C mark. It was the first occasion that he had ever topped the Super Sports Car League timesheets: “Things have been going well for us here, starting with the tests on Thursday, even though the weather with intermittent rain showers made it a bit more difficult at times. We have set our sights high for this track. Everyone knows that it suits the Corvette. Consequently, we need to make sure that we perform well this weekend.”
Kirchhöfer shares the cockpit of the Corvette with Daniel Keilwitz (28, GER), who holds the record for ADAC GT Masters wins on the 4.32km circuit – six in all.
Second fastest in the morning with a lap time of 1:29.668 minutes was the Ferrari 488 GT3 driven by Alfred Renauer (33, GER) and Luca Ludwig (29, GER) for whose team, HB Racing, the Red Bull Ring is home turf.
Third place was claimed by another Austrian team: Rolf Ineichen (40, CH) and Christian Engelhart (31, GER) in the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 prepared by GRT Grasser Racing Team were just 139 thousandths of a second off the pace of the lead Corvette.
They were followed by Mike David Ortmann (18, GER) and Markus Winkelhock (37, GER, both BWT Mücke Motorsport) in the best of the Audi R8 LMSs, ahead of fellow Audi drivers Kelvin van der Linde (21, ZA) and Sheldon van der Linde (19, ZA, both Montaplast by Land-Motorsport).
As so often at the Red Bull Ring, the time gaps were very narrow: at the end of the session, there were 25 vehicles within one second of each other.
Multiple milestones at the Red Bull Ring
Four of the ADAC GT Masters contestants will reach a major career milestone in Saturday’s race at Spielberg. Sebastian Asch (32, GER, Team Zakspeed BKK Mobil Oil Racing), who has already competed in more Super Sports Car League races than any of the current line-up, will be making his 140th appearance.
For Ferrari driver Luca Ludwig (29, GER, HB Racing), it will be his 120th start in the series, while for Robert Renauer (33, GER, Precote Herberth Motorsport) in the Porsche it will be the 100th.
Making it a quartet of round numbers is BMW driver Claudia Hürtgen (46, GER, RWT Racing) contesting her 80th race, albeit this time in a Corvette C7 GT3-R.
2018 ADAC GT Masters Calendar
13/04/18 – 15/04/18 Motorsport Arena Oschersleben
27/04/18 – 29/04/18 Autodrom Most (CZ)
08/06/18 – 10/06/18 Red Bull Ring (A)
03/08/18 – 05/08/18 Nürburgring
17/08/18 – 19/08/18 Circuit Park Zandvoort (NL)
07/09/18 – 09/09/18 Sachsenring
21/09/18 – 23/09/18 Hockenheimring Baden-Württemberg