At the penultimate race weekend of the ADAC GT Masters 2019 at the Hockenheimring, the MANN-FILTER Team HTP had to experience at first hand how close joy and grief can sometimes be to each other.
Indy Dontje and Maximilian Götz in the MANN-FILTER Mamba with start number 47 were on the way to the podium in Saturday’s race right from the start: On Saturday morning Indy laid the foundation for success with a strong third place in qualifying. After the start the Dutchman held this position in the fight against his rivals. “The car ran perfectly today both in qualifying and in the race,” said Dontje. “I was able to control my backmen well, but didn’t quite hold the two cars in front of me. I didn’t want to push too hard either so as not to ruin the rear tyres, which are very heavily used here at Hockenheim.”
After another perfectly executed pit stop by the HTP team (the MANN-FILTER Mamba left the pit lane exactly two tenths of a second after the minimum pit stop time of 70 seconds had expired) Partner Götz continued the high pace, overtook a car shortly after the driver change and successfully defended second place until the last lap. He had to let an opponent overtake him on the last kilometres, but as this manoeuvre had taken place with double waved yellow flags, the HTP squad profited from the time penalty imposed on the opponents afterwards and celebrated a well deserved second place.
“My pace was very good until right before the end, in some laps I was the fastest driver on the track”, said Götz happily. “Unfortunately then the rear tyres broke down a little and it became increasingly difficult to withstand the pressure of my pursuer. In the last lap I didn’t get out of the second corner well, he settled next to me and pushed me slightly off the track. In the hairpin I stopped, especially since I knew that there were yellow flags. I was clearly still in front when the flags were already visible, so I knew that his manoeuvre was not clean and would have consequences. Second place is great for the whole team, we scored important points.”
For team mates Fabian Vettel and Philip Ellis on the other hand the race came to an abrupt end shortly after the start: Starting from 25th position, Vettel was involved in a mass collision in the long Parabolika left-hand bend, in which a total of five vehicles were knocked out of the race. “I came out of Turn 2 well and saw myself in a good position when suddenly there was trouble in the field ahead of me. I immediately noticed that something was wrong. And then I drove into a thick cloud of dust, didn’t see anything at all. I tried to avoid the chaos on the grass – and didn’t see the cross standing Corvette until there was a bang. I’m fine so far, my neck pinches a little, but nothing serious.” What you can’t say about the bolide with the 48, unfortunately. Because the chassis of the MANN-FILTER Mamba was damaged, a start in the second race on Sunday was not possible.
“That’s racing,” commented HTP team boss Norbert Brückner. “With Indy and Max everything worked out today, the podium position is the deserved reward for a strong performance of the whole team. Fabi’s crash was bad luck. In a situation that is so intransparent in the truest sense of the word, it’s often pure luck whether you get through unscathed or not. Unfortunately we can’t repair the car on site. But I hope that we will be able to have a say about the podium places with our 47 tomorrow as well. The potential for this is undoubtedly there.”
While Fabi and Philip unfortunately could only participate as spectators in the Sunday race, the team around the yellow-green Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Indy and Max delivered a flawless performance in the second round of the ADAC GT Masters in Hockenheim as well. With rank 7, the duo was once again the best placed representative of the brand with the star and was able to hold fourth place in the driver ranking of the “League of Super Sports Cars” as well as the MANN-FILTER Team HTP remained fourth in the team ranking.
After the start from position 8 Max had already made up three positions after three corners when an incident in midfield made it necessary to stop the race again. According to the regulations Maxi had to take the restart again from eighth place and was able held it, fighting in a “Porsche sandwich”, until the mandatory driver change. “It’s a pity that the first start was cancelled”, the ex-DTM pilot and champion of the ADAC GT Masters 2012 commented. “After the restart behind the safety car I simply swam in traffic, could keep up the pace well, but could not make up any places, because everyone was travelling at about the same speed. So I tried to spare the tyres for Indy. Today it was a rather unspectacular race for me…”
After he had taken over the MANN-FILTER Mamba with starting number 47, Indy continued his efforts and tried to get past the defending champion’s Porsche in front of him – but came under increasing pressure from the following Lamborghini at the same time. “In the last few laps my rear tyres have been heavily reduced. So I had to concentrate more on defending than on attacking. In the end we can be satisfied with seventh place. That was the maximum today,” he stated.
HTP team boss Norbert Brückner agreed: “A podium position, two top-7 positions, best Mercedes in both races, and that with only one car – more was not possible this weekend. On the other hand, the fact that we unfortunately no longer have any mathematical chances of winning the title in both the driver and team classifications also makes the motto for the finale easier. It’s now quite simple: Full attack! We want to be on the podium again – and there we prefer to be in the middle.”
The season finale of the ADAC GT Masters will take place on September 28/29 at the Sachsenring near Hohenstein-Ernstthal. And, for two more times in the ADAC GT Masters 2019: Keep your fingers crossed for our MANN-FILTER Mambas!
Many thanks to Maria Bauer for the impressions of the ADAC GT Masters at the Hockenheimring!