Action-packed weekend for the women of ADAC GT4 at Red Bull Ring
Gabriela Jílková impressed the racing world once again with a stunning performance at the Red Bull Ring. Team Driverse - with Sandra van der Slooten and Lisette Braams - had a difficult weekend on the demanding track, while Victoria Froß continues her learning curve.
At its second weekend of the 2021 season, ADAC GT4 Germany visited the fastest track on the calendar - Spielberg, in Austria. Located in the midst of the beautiful natural scenery, 23 drivers hit the track in front of 3000 fans, finally allowed back on track for the occasion.
A new feature from this event was the so-called penalty lap for minor offenses - a marked area where drivers are allowed to drive through with maximum speed of 60 km/h.
To also make her debut in the series was Liesette Braams for Team Driverse, who is joining the team for the first time this year. Not making it to Austria was Charlie Martin; the British driver had clashing commitments at Oulton Park with Racing Pride and thus Liesette teamed-up with Sandra van der Sloot this weekend.
The first qualifying was claimed by Fred Martin-Dye (Dörr Motorsport) ahead of Gabriele Piana (Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport) and Dörr (Dörr Motorsport). Robert Haub qualified the Zakspeed Mercedes that he shares with Gabriela Jílková in P11, but the duo - who secured a third place finish at the opening round in Oschersleben were later disqualified: apparently, parc fermé rules appear to be different at Red Bull Ring and a mechanic checking tyre pressures after the session gained them the last place on the grid.
Franjo Kovac placed his and Victoria Froß´ Mercedes AMG GT4 in P21, right ahead of Leisette Braams from Team Driverse.
Martin-Dye had the better start and pulled away, but an early red flag stopped the action. Sartingen (Black Falcon Team TEXTAR) had crashed his Porsche into the wall and barriers needed repairs.
But Martin-Dye defended his lead at the restart and managed to break away from the field, only followed by Piana. Both maintained positions until the pit stops mid-way through the race: Martin-Dye handed his car over to Christer Jöns and Piana to Michael Schrey.
Jöns then lost the lead due to a coupling defect and was out of the race. Schrey took over the first place and sealed it until the chequered flag to win his third race of the season for the team. Second were Théo Nouet/Marschalkowski (Team Zakspeed), ahead of Nicolaj Møller-Madsen/Fetzer (Team Allied-Racing).
Robert Haub pitted for Jílková while recovering. From there, the Czech racer showcased another impressive performance. Started last and having taken over the car from P16, Gabriela fought her way up the order. Only the traffic of a lapped BMW ahead would prevent her from doing better than an eighth place at the end.
Jílková would also report that due to an early incident by her teammate, the car was losing tyre pressure on the front left for the whole race and the balance of the car felt compromised. Haub had in fact being hit by a Porsche on the second lap. "It was really hard to push without mistakes", she said.
What looked so easy for the Czech driver from the outside was hard work, but was rewarded with a P8 and solid points for the championship after a start from the last row.
With a difficult race, Team Driverse finished in P18, right ahead of Victoria Froß (Besagroup Mercedes) in P19.
The second qualifying session had a similar outcome to the Saturday's one, as Jöns scored pole position ahead of Nouet and Schrey. Jílková qualified in P11, with Team Driverse in P20 and Froß in P22.
Race 2 saw a sensational start by Møller-Madsen, who was starting fifth on the grid. The Danish driver fired into the lead on the first lap, but once again the race had an early red flag when the Porsche of Alexander Tauscher (Küs Team Bernhard) crashed into the wall at Turn 1 after a slight contact with Tim Reiter. The driver was unhurt, but the barrier required a long repair.
Møller-Madsen defended his lead at the restart, but soon it was a battle of four cars for the top position. At the end, it was Schrey who could bring his BMW from P4 up into the lead. After the pit stops, Schrey's teammate Piana pulled away - but the battle for the following places saw Martin-Dye and Marc de Fulgencio (Leipert Motorsport) making contact and the Safety Car was deployed.
The leading trio didn´t change order after the restart and Piana/Schrey won the fourth race out of four, ahead of Nouet/Marschalkowski and Fetzter/Møller-Madsen.
Charging through from P11, Gabriela Jílková and Robert Haub finished in a sensational fifth place following a furious recovery. 'Quick Gabi' - as she is known on Twitch and in the simracing community - completed the first stint of the race and poured again all her efforts with incredible overtaking moves - and managing to get out of gravel traps more than once. While in sixth place, Jílková took some risks dropped to tenth after a three-wide battle, but was soon back to P6. She pitted for the driver change and Haub rejoined seventh. The American also battled with the car, but was finally able to take the chequered flag in fifth position - which gave the Zakspeed duo fuorth place in the overall championship.
"P5 in our Race 2. We gained 6 positions. It was a quite difficult race weekend for us, but I’m really looking forward to Zandvoort! I know we’ll come back even stronger", Gabi said and Robert added: "Another great race weekend with a P5 finish in your second race after starting from P11."
Victoria Froß and Franjo Kovac finished the second race in 18th position, right ahead of Team Driverse with Sandra van der Sloot and Liesette Braams in P19.
"We all make mistakes, have struggles but we showed that we can participate! But we will get there!", Sandra van der Sloot summed up her second race weekend in ADAC GT4 Germany.
And Liesette, who made her debut on track for the most dedicated team to diversity and inclusion, added: "Got me it was the first time at the Red Bull Ring, in the BMW M4 GT4 and with this brand-new team Team Driverse! I sure had a lot of fun, learned a lot about the track, car and team and find out that we are all one big happy family."
"Together we are strong so I think the future looks bright. Special thanks to Nicole Koesters for making this all happen!"
The next event will take place at Zandvoort from 9th to 11th July.