Patric Niederhauser narrowly misses out on points at Red Bull Ring
Following the previous ADAC GT Masters race weekend at the Lausitzring, the series made the first of two excursions outside Germany, this time being hosted by the Red Bull Ring in Austria. Over the weekend of 9th - 11th June, more than 10,000 race fans over the course of the weekend enjoyed a combination of summer, sun and motorsport. The Audi teams have traditionally not had the easiest of times on the Formula 1 circuit which tends to reward cars with good straight-line speed. Patric Niederhauser and Aust Motorsport made the best of the unfavourable track characteristics and finished just outside the points in Race 2 as the second-highest placed of the Audi pairings.
Niederhauser sees better things ahead for himself and the team in the remaining races - starting with Zandvoort and finishing with Hockenheim, the tracks are much more suited to the inherent qualities of the Audi R8 LMS. In the drivers' championship, Niederhauser and his team-mate rank 20th after six out of 14 races.
Patric, you and your team have now got the problematic tracks out of the way. How would you sum up the past weekend?
Considering we knew beforehand that we would be struggling at the Red Bull Ring, we actually did OK this weekend. We moved up the field in both races, even progressing from 19th on the grid to 16th at the end of race 1. On Sunday, we came close to finishing in the Top Ten, crossing the line little more than a second behind the car in front. I am satisfied with my own performance. I had a tidy weekend and was well up with the pace.
You went into the first race from 19th on the grid. It's always tough starting from so far back...
Yes, very true. It was Dennis behind the wheel in quali, and he drove the opening stint. He did well in the qualifying session. The ADAC GT Masters driver line-up is incredibly evenly matched, which is why we only managed P19. He also put in a strong stint but lost some time towards the end. The pit stop didn't go according to the plan. When I returned to the track after the change of drivers, I suddenly saw five cars ahead of me that had actually been behind us before the stop. As regards straight-line speed, we were not at all bad. I closed the gap on the cars in front relatively quickly, but I was unable to overtake them because of our top-speed deficit on the straights. This also meant that the cars behind were getting closer and closer. I therefore had to keep one eye on the track ahead so that I could exploit any error and overtake, while with the other I had to check in my mirror so as not to lose a position. That was by no means an easy situation. We finished the race in 15th place - more would not have been possible under the conditions.
In the second race, you just missed out on the Top Ten. How did you see the race?
The start went well, as indeed my entire stint. I fought my way forward by several positions and handed over the car to Dennis in P12. Additionally, I kept at bay an Audi and a Lamborghini which, unlike me, were on a fresh set of tyres. I am very satisfied with my performance - it's just that we lacked the speed. We finished the race in eleventh place, only a second behind the car in front. That made us the second-strongest Audi in the field. We can be satisfied with this, especially as we knew in advance that it would not be easy for us at the Red Bull Ring.
The current season is almost halfway through. How would you sum it up so far?
At Oschersleben, we had a super car and our best chance of scoring decent points. Unfortunately, we were unable to take advantage of that. Going into the Lausitzring and the Red Bull Ring weekends, it was clear to us that we had two tricky tracks to contend with. But now we are in a positive frame of mind, and I think we should be better placed at Zandvoort. Although I've never driven on this track and it is said to be extremely demanding from a technical perspective, the Audi R8 LMS should do well there. The other race venues still to come should also suit us, so I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.
Next on the calendar is the highly technical circuit in the Dutch town of Zandvoort (21st - 23rd July). How does it feel to be venturing into uncharted territory?
Unfortunately, I have never been to Zandvoort during the whole of my ten years in motor racing. But every driver who has ever competed there raves about it. Consequently, I'll be putting in an extra shift to prepare for the next race weekend. I will spend the long summer break with intense preparation, and in my free time, I will also be working hard in my job as a driving instructor. So as you can see, I'm going to be quite busy.