Patric Niederhauser wins second race in Blancpain GT Series Asia
Having achieved a sensational win in the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Asia in Malaysia, Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser travelled to the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand last weekend, to build on his success. The 26-year-old notched up an amazing victory in the first race of two along with team-mate Markus Pommer. They were unlucky in the second race and finished eleventh after being handed a drive-through penalty. Now on 50 points, Niederhauser is in second place overall in the battle for the championship.
Patric, you’ve earned so much praise just lately, it’s becoming difficult to keep up...
Yes, indeed, my season got off to a tremendous start. I made the right decisions during the winter and doors have opened for me now following my success. For example, Reiter Young Stars offered me the chance to contest a full season with them after my guest start in the Blancpain Endurance Series at Monza. I accepted their offer with both hands and am looking forward to another fresh challenge in a professional, competitive team.
Your challenge last weekend was to score points in the championship...
That was the goal, even if you never know whether it’s achievable when you’re racing at a circuit for the first time. Still, we were really on song at the Chang International Circuit from our very first outing onwards, so I knew we had the pace to go for the win. I hit traffic initially in the first qualifying session. I squeezed every last ounce out of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 once the track was finally clear and posted a perfect lap. It was then down to us to take the win starting from P1.
You did that in most impressive fashion. How did your stint go?
I got off the line extremely well at the start and was able to maintain the lead. The Lamborghini Huracán GT3 behind me piled on the pressure in the early stages, but I managed to pull out a comfortable gap. We were just over three seconds up on the guy in P2 when I pitted for the driver handover.
You lost the lead in the race but that was without consequences. What happened?
Markus had a terrific stint but was under pressure from the Lamborghini behind him. We knew, though, that the driver who had been in second place up until that point would be getting a time penalty, so we decided not to take too many risks and Markus more or less let him through. We were home and dry with the win as a result of his penalty. This was another fantastic performance by everyone in the team. Many thanks to Markus and to the entire GruppeM Racing team!
You started out in sixth place in the second race, so how did you miss a points-scoring finish?
Unfortunately, the race did not go quite according to plan. Markus didn’t get a perfect start and lost a couple of places in the opening stages. Nevertheless, we were in a promising position to score good points. However, we received a drive-through penalty because of an unsafe release at the pit stop. I gave it my all during my stint, but unfortunately, eleventh place was the maximum. Still, I’m bidding farewell to Thailand with a spring in my step. After all, we are in championship contention.
Your next race outing will be at the old-established Silverstone Circuit under the banner of the Blancpain Endurance Series 18th - 20th May...
I’m really pleased to be contesting the full season in the Blancpain Endurance Series with Reiter Young Stars. I’ve got some terrific memories of Silverstone. I finished in the points when I was last there in 2016. The circuit is real old school and has a great flow. We should look pretty good there in the Lamborghini Gallardo G3 Reiter.