A season of superlatives for Patric Niederhauser
Patric Niederhauser’s third year in GT3 racing was an eventful one in several respects. The pro from Kirchdorf in Switzerland switched not only between vehicle models but also teams, series and continents. Niederhauser opened a new chapter in his career by competing in the Blancpain GT Series Asia. Together with his new team, GruppeM Racing, the 27-year-old ventured into pastures new, contesting the championship on such fabled tracks as the Suzuka International Racing Course, the Fuji Speedway and the Shanghai International Circuit.
In addition to regular appearances in the Blancpain GT Series Asia, Niederhauser also competed as a member of the Reiter Engineering squad. On behalf of the Austrian team, the Swiss pro contested the season opener of the 2018 GT4 Central European Cup and most races of the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup. In the season opener at Most in the Czech Republic, he and his girlfriend Marylin Niederhauser made it a one-two victory in the KTM X-Bow. After his convincing performance in the the first race in the Blancpain GT series and the victory in Most, Reiter Engineering offered him a cockpit for the entire season.
Big in Japan: Niederhauser in contention for the Asia title right through to the end
The season could not have got off to a better start. As early as the first race on the former Formula 1 circuit in Sepang (Malaysia), Niederhauser and team-mate Nico Bastian claimed the win. In his first race at the wheel of a Mercedes-AMG GT3, Niederhauser pulled out all the stops in the second stint to secure a first victory of the season. But the no-fault collision that brought the second race at Sepang to a premature end showed just how rough things can get in GT racing.
The Swiss driver was to make two more appearances on the top rung of the podium in the Blancpain GT Series Asia for victories in the second race of the season at Buriram (Thailand) and on the historic circuit at Fuji. In addition, there were two pole positions at Buriram and at Ningbo in China, another podium in Suzuka and a fastest lap on the Fuji Speedway.
Right through to the season finale in Ningbo, the GruppeM Racing driver remained in contention. Niederhauser and Bastian booked P1 and P4 respectively on the grid and looked all set for a decent points haul. Unfortunately, their efforts came to naught: in the two races, the driver duo did not see the chequered flag, both times through no-fault collisions.
Patric Niederhauser on the Blancpain GT Series Asia: “I’m basically satisfied with our season; we had great pace and finished on the podium in the general classification. So there are many positives to look back on. Considering I had only half a day to test the Mercedes-AMG GT3 before the season opener and that I only drove it on the race weekends, I am very satisfied with my performance over the year. We registered three wins, and on the final weekend, we were once again in the frame for the win. With the exception of Shanghai, we always had the pace for victory. That’s why it was essentially a very positive season. I’m glad to be part of the GruppeM Racing setup. Everybody works very professionally, and the atmosphere in the team is incredibly good.”
Wild card for Reiter Engineering
Niederhauser was involved in a very special race weekend in early May when he was co-driver to his partner Marylin in the season opener of the GT4 Central European Cup. Together, they recorded two wins, one fastest lap and one pole position – all on a single weekend. The 27-year-old took the KTM XBow into an unassailable lead and helped his team-mate to claim top spot in the championship at the start of the campaign.
Niederhauser’s talent as a racer, team player and mentor for the younger riders impressed Reiter Engineering. The Austrian outfit offered him the chance to contest the 2018 Blancpain GT Series Endurance Cup as a member of the Reiter Young Stars line-up. As early as the season opener, Niederhauser made his mark, setting not only the fastest time in his qualifying group but also the fastest lap of the entire weekend. He then went on to clock the fastest race lap in his Lamborghini Gallardo GT3 R-EX. A technical problem and a drive-through penalty ultimately deprived him of what would surely have been a top result. There were two more races to come – Le Castellet and Barcelona, his favourite track.
Patric Niederhauser talks about his role as a ‘wild card’ at Reiter Engineering: “Sharing the cockpit with Marylin was just fantastic. The fact that we were so dominant over the weekend was the icing on the cake. I got along very well with Reiter Engineering right from the start. On the basis of my performance in the Blancpain Endurance Series season opener at Monza, Reiter Engineering offered me a cockpit for the entire season. Setting the fastest lap of the entire weekend in Monza remains one of the highlights for me of this great year. What’s more, I am incredibly grateful to the team for the season finale on my favourite track in Barcelona. Every single kilometre I drive there is a pleasure, and I at last got the opportunity to compete in a GT3 car at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya for the first time.”