Title battle intensifies after action-packed weekend at Hockenheim

Title battle intensifies after action-packed weekend at Hockenheim
  • High Class Racing make perfect strategy call to win wet-dry opener in Pro-Am, then power clear to cement championship lead in race two.
  • Am Cup honours split between series debutante Oliver Freymuth (AKF Motorsport) and the #7 Sportec Motorsport of Christoph Ulrich and Christoph Lenz.
  • Three of the four manufacturers – Audi, Lamborghini and KTM – enjoy race victories on ultra-competitive weekend at Hockenheim. 

High Class Racing cemented their position in the Pro-Am standings with a double victory and two teams visited the winner’s circle in the Am Cup as the Fanatec GT2 European Series enjoyed another action-packed weekend (14-15 May) at Hockenheimring.

The series’ competitive nature was highlighted once again at the high-speed, 4.5km German venue, with three of the four eligible manufacturers – namely Audi, Lamborghini and KTM – all taking turns on the top step of the podium.

Factor in the challenging nature of the high-speed, flowing Hockenheimring circuit and changeable weather conditions, and the stage was set for a very entertaining double-header of GT2 action in Baden-Württemberg.

R1: High Class Racing time strategy to perfection in chaotic opener

A well-executed strategy proved to be the deciding factor in the opening race on Saturday morning, as High Class Racing’s #33 Audi in the hands of Mark Patterson cut through from fourth on the grid to victory.

Patterson kept the Audi running steady in fourth until the pit window opened, then boxed to hand over to Anders Fjordbach, with the team also electing to switch to slicks.

When Fjordbach re-joined the race, the advantage was evident, the Dane making his way from third to first in a single tour before clocking laps almost 10 seconds to the better of his wet-shod rivals to build up a 55.7-second lead by the chequered flag.

Another car on slicks came through the field to finish in second, in this case the #23 Reiter Engineering-run KTM of Rupert Atzberger and Peter Kox. Kox was able to take full advantage of a battle between Speed Factory Racing’s #5 Porsche in Michael Vergers’ hands and the #81 PK Carsport Audi of Bert Longin to slip through and into the runner-up spot.

The final spot on the podium was some consolation for Longin after a race that had started with a 20-second lead from pole position for team-mate Peter Guelinckx, wiped out after a safety car for Sehdi Sarmini and Stefan Rosina’s damaged #16 True Racing KTM.

In the Am Cup, it was debut delight for Oliver Freymuth and AKF Motorsport. Sportec Motorsport’s #7 had looked the pre-race favourite with a front-row starting slot for Christoph Ulrich, but a spin exiting Turn 3 on cold tyres gave Freymuth the opportunity to move into the class lead.

He had Rosenberger for company at first but contact between the #24 and David Fairbrother in the Toro Verde GT Lamborghini eased the pressure, and from there he enjoyed a trouble-free run to victory.

Christoph Lenz was able to battle back and restore the #7 to second position after a late move on Klaus Angerhofer in the #23, which rounded out the podium finishers in class.

R2: Audi make it four in a row in Pro-Am, Stuck and Rosenberger denied Am triumph with post-race penalty

High Class Racing’s early-season form was cemented in the final 50-minute contest of the weekend later that afternoon, with Fjordbach and Patterson claiming a third win in four races, the fourth in a row for Audi’s R8 LMS GT2.

It was another ‘Fjordbach special’ from pole position, the Dane making a blistering start to build his advantage in the opening exchanges, although a run around the outside of the Turn 5 hairpin from Vergers gave him food for thought at the start.

Vergers in turn had swept around the outside of front-row starter Longin on the exit of Turn 3, and from there the gap gradually increased between the top two. Longin’s hopes were ended early on after slight contact with Kox left his Audi in the gravel approaching Sachs Kurve, and after a pit stop to check for damage, he re-joined at the back.

A slower stop, plus the extra compensation time, could have blown the #33’s advantage out front, but Patterson re-joined just ahead of Rusteika, the Porsche have pitted a lap prior. From there, it was relatively straightforward for the South African, who finished 11.5 seconds clear at the flag to cement High Class’ status in the Pro-Am standings.

Rusteika, hit with a 5-second penalty for track limits infringements, also came under pressure late on from a charging Stephane Ratel in the #88 LP Racing Audi, building on the good work of Pirri to move forward from sixth at the start.

Ratel was able to close to within a couple of seconds and therefore moved up from third to second, Rusteika and Vergers dropping to the final step of the podium.

In the Am Cup, Reiter Engineering’s #24 KTM as Kris Rosenberger and Hans-Joachim Stuck looked to have claimed a first victory in the category after a near-miss in the finale at Monza last time out.

“Strietzel” made progress off the start, pulling the KTM from the fifth row of the grid into sixth overall, and into the Am Cup lead. The team elected to pit first from the front and re-joined ahead, albeit with a momentary scare after the door appeared to be loose on exit.

The problem resolved, Rosenberger then powered clear and would have registered their first win and throw them back into the mix in the championship battle, but the penalty for having the tyre pressures worked on with the engine running during the pit stop evoked a 25-second penalty.

They finished as runners-up, therefore, to the #7 Sportec entry of Ulrich and Lenz, with Trunkenpolz and Angerhofer completing the podium.

The next rounds of the 2021 Fanatec GT2 European Series will take place at Misano, Italy on 2-4 July.