Patric Niederhauser finishes fourth in heavy rain at Monza
Patric Niederhauser lined up in the season opener of the GT4 European Series last weekend at the Monza Formula 1 circuit. He was sharing the cockpit of a KTM X-Bow GT4 fielded by KTM works team True Racing with KTM works driver Reinhard Kofler. The long straights of the circuit in the Royal Park of Monza did not entirely suit the KTM X-Bow GT4 with its top speed deficit.
Niederhauser finished the first free practice in twelfth place. In the second practice session, team-mate Kofler could only manage 15th. Niederhauser then booked a decent starting position for the first race with P9 in qualifying. Kofler surpassed that with sixth on the grid in Q2 for the second race.
The strong pace of the duo went unrewarded in the first race. Due to a mechanical defect, the number 16 KTM X-Bow GT4 failed to make it to the chequered flag. In the second race on Sunday, Niederhauser and Kofler defied the exceptionally wet conditions to claim a respectable fourth place.
In two weeks’ time, Niederhauser will be at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben for the opening weekend (26th - 28th April) of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters. The 27-year-old Swiss returns to the series after a one-year absence. He will be partnering Kelvin van der Linde in an Audi R8 LMS fielded by HCB-Rutronik Racing. All races will be shown live on the free-to-air TV channel SPORT1.
Unfortunately, your strong pace in the first race on Saturday went unrewarded. What was the reason for the retirement?
Qualifying went surprisingly well, with ninth place on the grid. We knew it would be a difficult weekend for us, because the KTM X-Bow has a deficit in terms of top speed. I drove the first stint of the first race. It was a chaotic start, and I lost a few positions. But I was able to battle my way forward again with several overtaking moves, and I handed the car over to my team-mate in eighth place. Unfortunately, the car developed a fault at the beginning of his stint – minor damage to the charge air hose – so sadly we had to retire from the race.
In the rain-affected race on Sunday, you put in a solid performance. Tell us more…
The weather forecast had said we were in for a lot of rain. Consequently, we prepared for it. Reini initially drove a good first stint. Then he had problems and lost a few positions. After the driver change, I fought my way up to fourth place with a succession of fast laps, but by then the leading trio were too far away for me to do anything. All in all, it was a good race, though the conditions were really extreme. I could hardly see anything due to the spray. I used the boards next to the track for orientation and to identify my braking points. It was one of the most extreme races I have ever driven.
Next up is the season opener of the ADAC GT Masters. What are your expectations for your comeback weekend?
The ADAC GT Masters is an incredibly competitive GT series, and I’m very grateful to be driving for HCB-Rutronik Racing alongside my good friend Kelvin van der Linde. On Monday and Tuesday, we had successful tests at Oschersleben, and we feel well prepared. Obviously, we won’t know where we stand relative to the rest until the first qualifying session. If all goes well, we should be among the Top Ten. Anyway, I am really looking forward to the start of the ADAC GT Masters.