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ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring

10th August 2014

Event report

Last weekend we repeated our visit to Slovakia Ring, this time again for the German-based ADAC GT Masters race, which was held for the second consecutive time. The Slovakia Ring is located near a small village called Orechová Potôň, really not well-known before the circuit was built there some five years ago. The track itself is actually located 6-7 kilometres from the village and it looks as having been built in the middle of nothing, just fields and meadows.

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During the short history the premium Slovak circuit hosted a number of international races of a significant level of importance, including two rounds of now defunct FIA GT1 World Championship races. Since 2011 this was already the seventh race meeting included in our RSC archives, and another race will be held there the next weekend (Blancpain Sprint), while similar track in the nearby Czech Republic with much stronger history, Brno and Most, had only one RSC-included race (Brno 2013 GTSprint series, while Most failed to get a proper sports car race for more than a decade).

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Basically all of the sports car races in Slovakia were GT3 races of some form. ADAC GT Masters is a purely GT3 series, actually one of the best supported ones in the world. One anomaly, typical for the GT3 events in Slovakia Ring, was finally gone this year. Until the last year, there used to be an artificial (temporary) chicane before the turn 3. It was because the track profile before the turn three contained such a crest that some quick GT3 cars had airborne tendencies during the 2011 GT3 European event. It was all changed this year when that part of the track was rebuilt becoming mellower, avoiding any airborne effects. So the track became quicker while the official length is still the same, 5922 metres - actually one of the longest tracks currently used for sports car racing. For the last half a decade obviously it is Le Mans, which is with its more than 13 kilometres by far the longest, followed by Spa, the only standard track over 7 kilometres, Road America and Sebring. All other tracks, including still pretty long Silverstone or Paul Ricard are slightly shorter than the Slovakia Ring - we actually omitted two obscure tracks, which hosted some GT races recently but generally cannot be considered as sports car track regulars: San Luis (FIA GT1 World) and Bathurst, which 12 hour Touring car race was part of Austrian GT Championship in 2013. Both these tracks are somewhere in between Road America and Sebring, when the length is considered.

ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 017ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 018ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 019ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 020ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 021ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 022ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 023ADAC GT Masters Slovakia Ring (event report) - picture number 024

In Slovakia we had a full filed of ADAC GT cars, which currently counts 26 cars. Actually, German championship attracted forty entrants by 2012. But it was then intentionally reduced to current numbers. In any case, each GT3 championship, especially those at national level, has their more favourite cars on the grid. So while in Italy or also ELMS we can see a number of Ferraris, in Britain there are Aston Martins and newly also Bentley, in the German championship, there was no sign of any of these cars, but had here a lot of Audis, Mercedes-Benz and especially Porsches. They are common almost in any sports car race; at least for the last half century, but still rarely we can see them in such numbers as in a German series. Another German manufacturer, BMW, was represented by only two entries - though they occupied the front row at the start of the Sunday race - and all that was completed with one-off entries by Lamborghini, McLaren and Chevrolet Camaro, plus five big Corvettes, which are developed and ran by a German Callaway Competition. Hardly can we think of a stronger participation of this big American-based car, which almost disappeared from other forms of GT3 racing.

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As for the one-off entries, either Gallardo or the McLaren were of no chance for a good results, thanks to the teams running them, but the lone Camaro became very strong compared to the last year. This GT3 model car has been actually developed by Reiter since 2012 but raced without any success by secondary level team. Many local fans may remember Slovakia Ring last year when the big black American beast shared the last spot with an aging Ford GT40 (now already gone from GT3 racing). But this year, Reiter Engineering - now free of Lamborghini development - concentrated on the Camaro, hired one of the best GT drivers around, Tomáš Enge, and entered the car by themselves. And the same car (actually chassis 002 used also in 2012, while the 004 from the last years was available in the pit garage as a spare) became as if by magic a factor for the potential victory.

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The Sunday race, which was actually the second ADAC GT race of the weekend, so the Camaro in the second row, sandwiched by two Corvettes, numbers 1 and 2. As already mentioned, the front row was only BMWs. However right after the start, even before approaching the first turn, it was Corvette one-two, followed by the Camaro in hands of Tomáš Enge. Only then the BMWs followed. On the second straight a few cars touched and it seemed to threaten in a multicar accident. Fortunately, it all end with a puncture of Audi no.16 and one more retirement of Porsche no.6. The Audi visited pits, however was not restarted again.

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In the front, it was very close and Enge showed his potential, and also the potential of the Camaro, and overtook one of the Corvettes for second. It was actually the Corvette no.2 (Patrick Assenheimer/Diego Alessi), which lead in the first lap, but lost its pace to no.1 (Andreas Wirth/Daniel Keilwitz) in the second lap and then became an easy task for Enge. He then tried to do the same thing with the car no.1 but it became apparent within a few laps that there is not a real thread from Camaro or any other car in the field for the leading Corvette.

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It then led for entire race except the two laps during mandatory pit stops to change the drivers, when it was a mid-field running Mercedes-Benz of Maro Engel/Jan Seyffarth, which enjoyed the lead. Enge kept second but it was a question whether his amateur co-driver Albert Maria Lamoral Miguel Johannes Gabriel von Thurn und Taxis (His Serene Highness) - known as just Albert von Thurn und Taxis, would be able to keep the position. In the first race on Saturday they were classified eighth.

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Albert was really second until a safety car period was called in the final stages of the race. Really not a good message for Reiter since it brought quicker drivers from behind close to "Thurn und Taxis". One hour mark of the race was already approaching when the organisers restarted the race just for the final lap. Fortunately this artificial drama did not change anything in the front. Corvette no.1 of Wirth and Keilwitz crossed the line as the winner, Albert Thurn und Taxis managed to keep behind the quick BMW with Claudia Hürtgen, a lady who shared the car with Dominik Baumann. Also other positions were virtually unchanged in the last lap (except a switch for 12th position). However, more sadly, the other BMW, driven by Max Sandritter and Jens Klingmann, was touched and pushed out of the track by one of Mercedes-Benz - and this incident was still under investigation while we were leaving the meeting.

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Enjoy the photos, they are all from Sunday - either the morning's Warm Up or the race itself. Our standard gallery contains all chassis numbers, and also two cars that were not entered for the race meeting but we discovered them as spares in the garage, making it 28 altogether. The weather was excellent, though during Saturday it may have been a little too hot. However it was apparently a problem for most of the teams, since we had only two retired on Saturday, while on Sunday only two third of cars actually finished the race. To complete the Saturday info, this first race was dominated by both BMW Z4s, with Claudia Hürtgen and Dominik Baumann actually winning the race. Two Corvettes were next ahead of a lone quick Porsche. It was the car number 3 driven by Christian Engelhart and Jaap van Lagen for Schütz Motorsport and it defend its position on Sunday. Most of other Porsches were usually seen as mid-field runners or a real backmarkers. There was also no Audi or Mercedes-Benz that would actually do a result and broke into top 5 in any of the two races.

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