Sachsenring



01.10.2019

Perfect end to ADAC GT Masters season for Patric Niederhauser


Patric Niederhauser crowned his most successful season in motor racing with a win in the final race of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters. Along with team-mate, Kelvin van der Linde, he secured the title in the team classification in this highly competitive series for HCB-Rutronik Racing. Around 25,000 spectators came to the Sachsenring to watch the season finale.

Van der Linde took a decisive pole position in qualifying on Sunday morning with a lead of 0.256 seconds. HCB-Rutronik Racing’s two drivers converted the top position on the grid into an unchallenged lights-to-flag victory. This was their third triumph of the season after being crowned champions earlier at the Hockenheimring.

The 25 points for the win brought HCB-Rutronik Racing back to the top of the team standings after they had temporarily lost the lead following Saturday’s race. As a result, the newcomers to the ADAC GT Masters have won the drivers’ and team titles in their first season.

Their delight at these two successes quickly helped them forget the unfortunate end to Saturday’s race. With only a few laps to go, van der Linde had been sixth and battling for a finish in the Top Five when he was forced to head for the pits with a puncture after a contact with another competitor. More than 19th place was not possible after the incident.

Swiss driver Niederhauser started the race from 13th on the grid. He had qualified in 14th position but was bumped one place up the grid when a driver in front of him got a penalty. Niederhauser was not among the Top Four in qualifying for the first time this year, but his season average in qualifying is still fourth.

In the race, Niederhauser worked his way up into seventh place before the driver handover partly thanks to his strong start. The pace of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 was solid despite 30 kilos of success ballast. Niederhauser and van der Linde missed the points for the second time this season after a contact with a rival, but this result in no way detracts from their impressive record this season, as three wins, a total of seven podium finishes and three pole positions speak for themselves.

Niederhauser will still be partying a long time after winning the title, as he will soon be celebrating his 28th birthday, on October 8th, to be precise.

Congratulations on your third victory this season and on winning the title for HCB-Rutronik Racing!

Thanks! It couldn’t have gone better. The day was just perfect. It’s great to finish the season with a win and to secure the team championship as well. I’m truly happy. My last stint was not as easy as it might have looked from the grandstand. Of course, I didn’t have much pressure from behind, but the track was very dirty, so I couldn’t afford to make a mistake. I had to stay focused. I pushed initially in order to keep my concentration levels high, but after that, I was really able to enjoy myself. It was a nice feeling to know that I’d also clinched victory in the team classification after winning the drivers’ title. The elation felt by the whole team was immense. Everyone had tears in their eyes. We were all very emotional, for sure!

You were not among the top four qualifiers for the first time this season. What happened?

Qualifying was tough on Saturday morning. The variable conditions made things really tricky. Some things didn’t go right. Things did not go the way I wanted. A lot of unfortunate factors simply came together, which is why I only qualified 14th, but my season average is still pretty good.

Well at the start of the race, you quickly made up for a qualifying that didn’t go quite your way...

I was already in P10 soon after the start. I got through the jockeying for position quite well. Up until now, the start has been a bit of a weakness of a mine, because I’m usually a bit hesitant in my approach, but I knew that we’d got nothing to lose here. I moved up into eighth place over the laps that followed and then a competitor spun in front of me. I inherited another position as a result. I couldn’t match the front-runners for pace, as we had 30 kilos of extra weight on board after winning at the Hockenheimring but still managed to keep a strong competitor behind me.

Things got really exciting again in the second stint of the race...

I knew I had to hand the car over to Kelvin in seventh place and had hoped that we might be able to overtake someone in the pits. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Nevertheless, it was still a mega race. Kelvin drove an incredibly strong race. He’s a thoroughbred racing driver, who doesn’t’ mind taking a risk or two. In my opinion, he did nothing wrong in the situation leading to the puncture. Someone drove into the side of him in Turn 12. Kelvin had been trying to overtake on the outside and had almost got past when he took a hit to the left rear, causing a puncture. It was just bad luck. We’ve not had much bad luck this year, but now was the time.

You followed the whole thing from the SPORT1 commentary box. What did you think of the experience, sitting next to Patrick Simon as co-commentator?

It was amazing but a bit tricky at the same time, because basically, I prefer to drive rather than spectate. I enjoyed it a bit more this time. Kelvin was on the screen quite a lot, as he was involved in a great many scraps. Sharing the excitement with him was just terrific. However, I don’t think that commentating is one of my greatest strengths. I tried to stay neutral, even when Kelvin was busy scrapping. Patrick Simon was very kind to me and gave me his support. It was definitely a lot of fun.