Win and podium for Patric Niederhauser at Brands Hatch
Mega race weekend for Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser at Brands Hatch. He and his team-mate Reinhard Kofler dominated the second meeting of the GT4 European Series. They won the first race in the KTM X-Bow GT4 fielded by their team, True Racing, and went on a sensational charge up the field in the second race from 15th on the grid to finish on the podium.
Swiss driver Niederhauser secured grid slot five for the first race on Sunday morning and gained a position on the very first lap. He set the pace again immediately after a full course yellow period and overtook the Aston Martin ahead of him in a fine manoeuvre. When the driver in second place headed for the pits, Niederhauser began to hunt down the race leader and set the fastest sector times before also heading to the pits to change drivers. Team-mate Kofler did not waste any time in posting the fastest lap of the race after the stop, enabling them to take the lead at the end of the round of pit-stops where they stayed until the end.
They should have been in fifth place again at the start of the second race of the weekend, but a ten-place grid penalty after a contact in Race 1 bumped their KTM X-Bow GT4 back down into P15. Kofler drove well and handed the car over to 27-year-old Niederhauser lying in P9. On his stint, Niederhauser again showed his class, working his way up into third place. Over the final 15 minutes of the race, he carried on a relentless scrap for second place without making any errors or having any contacts. He pulled back in the end, as it wasn’t safe to overtake, and secured important points with third place for himself and his team.
Racing in the ADAC GT Masters will continue for Niederhauser on the weekend of 17th - 19th May when, together with Kelvin van der Linde and his team HCB-Rutronik Racing, he intends to defend second place in the standings with more finishes up front at Most in the Czech Republic.
Congratulations on your mega weekend! How does it feel as you head home from Brands Hatch?
Well obviously, I feel wonderful, couldn’t be better! We won one race and went from 15th to finish on the podium in the other. Of course, as a racing driver you always want the maximum and I would like to have achieved more than third place, but we’re pleased with the result. We’re back in the running for the championship after the weekend we’ve just had!
You won the first race. How did you manage that from fifth on the grid?
Qualifying was tricky due to the drying conditions, so I only had one lap, in which I also had to overtake two cars. Fifth place was not exactly a dream result, but things could have been different again with P20. In the race, I pushed hard from the start and overtook some of the other drivers. I handed the car over to Reini in second place and he was invincible after that!
You went on an amazing charge in the second race. How did you manage that?
We had a ten-place penalty, as I made contact with another driver in the first race. Whenever I make a mistake, then I acknowledge it, but I found the penalty a bit harsh in this instance. Still, we had no choice but to accept it, so Reini had to start from grid slot 15 and was very fast. I was really surprised to suddenly see smoke billowing up from our KTM. I thought we’d got a technical problem or puncture. In fact, another driver had rear-ended him, causing problems in the short-term. Luckily, it wasn’t too bad, and he finally handed over the car to me lying in sixth place.
You had the best scrap of the race, for sure, and were frequently shown in the TV broadcast!
I was able to quickly close the gaps and overtake one or two cars. The battle for second place, however, was tougher than expected. We were in cars of different makes and I was a lot faster overall but unable to pass, because of the difference in top speed. I had half a chance but didn’t want to force the issue and risk a smash as a result, and that’s why I preferred to secure third place at the finish line.
Your next race outing will be in the ADAC GT Masters at Most. How do you expect to fare?
I’ve got some very special memories of this circuit. I lined up there last year in the GT4 Central European Cup with my girl-friend, Marylin, and we won both races. That was a unique experience, packed chock-full with emotion. I’m now second in the ADAC GT Masters standings as we go into the next round and would like to compete up front again with Kelvin or maybe even secure our first victory of the season. At the same time, we want to approach the weekend without being too smug about things. We’ve had a mega start to the season, and it won’t be easy to repeat that success, but of course, we’ll work hard and do our very best!