Red Bull Ring


Patric Niederhauser goes into the ADAC GT Masters summer break as championship leader

Patric Niederhauser competed in the fifth and sixth races of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters in front of more than 16,000 spectators at the Red Bull Ring last weekend. He and HCB-Rutronik Racing team-mate Kelvin van der Linde extended their run of successes from the first four races. The state of play at the start of the summer break is that, in each of the six races so far, the duo have registered results in the Top Four, including one victory. Niederhauser and van der Linde lead the championship with exactly 100 points to their account.

Niederhauser booked a very good starting position for the Saturday race at the Red Bull Ring with P2. He and van der Linde narrowly missed out on the podium in P4 and were the best of the large Audi contingent. In Sunday’s race, they advanced to third in their R8 LMS GT3 having started from eighth and thus notched up another podium appearance.

In addition to his achievements on the track, Niederhauser was also involved in competitive action of a different kind. On Friday, he took on Sebastian Asch and Max Hofer in an ice stock sport match – and won.

His next racing engagement is the fourth fixture of the 2019 GT4 European Series to be contested at Misano on the weekend of 28th - 30th June. The ADAC GT Masters returns on the weekend of 9th - 11th August at Zandvoort.

You narrowly missed out on pole position in Saturday’s qualifying...
Yes, but second place is almost equivalent to getting pole on a different track, because the Red Bull Ring is so difficult for the Audi. It was a great quali. The car felt awesome, and everything went perfectly. I put in a great lap. In the three qualifying sessions so far, I’ve been first, second and third – I would never have expected such consistency.

How did you fare in the Saturday race in your stint?
I knew the first lap of the race would be tough, especially with two Corvettes and multiple Porsches all around. Unfortunately, I did not get off to the best of starts and dropped back. But then I put pressure on the driver in front of me despite our distinct lack of top speed, even in comparison to the other Audis. But we were faster in the corners. While I was closing the gap on the car in front, another opponent came up behind, so I had to defend myself. That allowed the car in front to pull away again. Nonetheless, I was very happy with the car during the race, and Kelvin did a great job after the change of drivers.

On the subject of the pit stop, things got really tight when he set off.
It was a good decision on Kelvin’s part to leave the box at such an acute angle, because it gained him a position. But it certainly was tight. The other driver left it a bit too long and was unable to see our car. There was a minimal contact. I’m sorry they got a drive-through penalty, but those are the rules. It has its advantages if your box is near the entrance to the pit lane, because the car in the fast lane has priority.

In the Sunday race you pulled off an impressive overtaking move. Tell us more about that.
Kelvin booked us a good starting position in qualifying. Whenever he’s at the wheel, I know that we will be moving forward several positions. He did a mega job and handed the car over to me in the Top Five. We had a good pit stop, everything worked well, and I got back on track right behind the Corvette. I had the pace to put the other car under pressure. I worked out a strategy, because it’s not easy to get past the Corvette with its top-speed advantage. I came to the conclusion that I had two options: either I force my opponent over the track limits or I wait until he makes a mistake. Both of these things happened. In Turn Six he made a small mistake while I got round in mega fashion. That allowed me to move to the inside and overtake. I had to defend the position, but then he got a penalty and I could breathe again.

If somebody had told you before the season that you would finish in the Top Four in each of the first
six races of the season, how would you have responded? I would have told them they must be joking. The results so far have completely exceeded our expectations. I knew from the beginning that it might be a good year, but I couldn’t have conceived that things would go quite so well. We’ve had no bad luck so far, and everything has consistently worked out for us. After years of constant setbacks, every weekend now seems to run like clockwork.

How will you be spending the summer break?
I’ve got a lot of travelling to do in June and will only have four days at home. July should be a bit more relaxed. I’ve planned a holiday so I can wind down a bit. I’m looking forward to the GT4 races at Misano. It’s a good track for the KTM. We want to catch up in the championship, so we cannot afford to make mistakes and we need to score a hatful of points. I’ll be aiming for outright victory at Misano.