In the first weekend of ADAC GT4 at Oschersleben, Gabriela Jílková scored a podium at her series debut and established herself as one of the front-runners. Charlie Martin & Sandra van der Sloot also had a great first weekend in the all-new Team Driverse, claiming a podium in class, while Victoria Froß had a solid first appearance in the series.
The 2021 ADAC GT4 class might be stronger than ever before: with 23 entries and 7 manufacturers of the likes of Aston Martin, KTM, McLaren, Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, the series was off to a great start at Oschersleben, as it will continue to support the ADAC GT Masters.
Among the many talented drivers it was fast Czech racer Gabriela Jílková, who will share the Zakspeed Mercedes AMG GT4 with fellow GT Winter Series champion Robert Haub; the all-new Team Driverse - that announced Charlie Martin and Sandra van der Sloot as their line up and will focus on bringing diversity and inclusion into professional motorsport; last but not least, German Victoria Froß, who stepped up to the championship and will race alongside Franjo Kovac in a Mercedes by Besagroup Racing Team.
The season opener immediately started off on the right foot for Gabriela Jílková, who set the benchmark time in the second practice session and put her Mercedes-AMG GT4 on top with a lap time of 1:32,625. This didn't come as a surprise, as the fast Czech woman was also very fast in the official pre-season test.
Victoria Froß and Team Driverse - with Charlie Martin and Sandra van der Sloot behind the wheel of the BMW Motorsport M4 GT4 - worked in the right direction and improved their performances throughout the sessions. Both teams are new to the series, despite Driverse being operated by the returning Sorg Rennsport team. Charlie and Sandra focused on getting to know the car and the circuit better into the two hours of practice before the first qualifying session - as the team had missed the pre-season test at that same track and only previously completed a test in Hockenheim.
In the first Qualifying session - valid for Saturday's race - it was Haub to take on driving duties in the Zakspeed Mercedes. He would qualify on P12 and start the race as well, before handing the car over to Gabriela Jílková. Charlie Martin (Team Driverse) qualified on P21, one place behind Kovac/Froß. Gabriele Piana and Michael Schrey secured pole position for Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport.
Piana easily had the better start into Race 1: he pulled away - his only worry being the dark clouds in the sky. Behind him, Marc de Fulgencio (Leipert Motorsport) and Phil Dörr (Dörr Motorsport) followed, the latter making up positions from eighth on the grid.
The first half of the race was relatively calm until the driver change: some battles animated the midfield. Among them, Haub then handed the car over to Gabriela Jílková in P11 halfway through the race.
It was then show-time for the Czech driver: Gabriela Jílková fought her way through the field up to P5 in just a few laps. Schrey meanwhile led the race until the rain arrived and, seven minutes before the chequered flag, the Safety Car was deployed to recover a stranded car.
The race went back to green for a last lap sprint race: Schrey won in impressive style, ahead of de Fulgencio and P. Dörr in third. Gabriela Jílková defended her position hard from the attacks of Fetzer (Team Allied-Racing) and finished her first ever ADAC GT4 race in fifth place. "P5 in our first race in ADAC GT4 Germany! What a race", a very happy Gabi said after her Saturday run.
Right before the driver change, Charlie Martin spun her BMW M4 GT4 and brought the car back to the pits, but Team Driverse unfortunately had to retire the car after the incident.
"It was a big moment for the whole team coming into our first race weekend together and I was very excited to be driving at Oschersleben for the first time - it’s a fast and technical track meaning there was a lot to learn. The level is very high in ADAC GT4, and Saturday was a tough experience as I put myself under too much pressure to deliver which led to some mistakes", Charlie Martin summed up.
Victoria Froß and Kovac finished P20 in their first ever ADAC GT4 race - including a little spin caused by the rain - but gained some valuable experience for the next future.
The second Qualifying session saw the Zakspeed team at their best: Théo Nouet set the fastest time ahead of Nicolaj Møller Madsen (Team Allied-Racing) and the second Zakspeed Mercedes of Gabriela Jílková. 'Quick Gabi' - how she is also known in the simracing community - missed pole position by just 0,185 seconds.
Sandra van der Sloot qualified in P21 and Victoria Froß in P23.
Nouet had a good getaway from the Race 2 pole position and pulled away from the rest of the pack. Møller Madsen tried to follow, but he was under heavy pressure from Gabriela Jílková behind. The fast Czech driver hunted the Porsche of Møller Madsen and completed the move of the season so far as she passed the Danish driver around the outside with a world-class overtake. Jílková tried to catch up with the leader Nouet, but couldn't get close enough to attempt a move. Before the driver change, the podium positions were: Nouet, Jílková and Schrey, who had also passed Møller Madsen.
Gabriela Jílková handed over the #20 Mercedes to Haub, but the American driver crossed the white line at the pit exit and received a 5 second penalty. He gave it his all, but was under pressure and while he went around lapped cars, he got onto the grass and lost second to Piana. Also, the gap to de Fulgencio had reduced critically, so they were classified in P4 when the 5 seconds were added to their race time. Despite a troubled second stint, it was Gabriela and Robert's best result in the series to date - a very promising performance for the next rounds.
After the race, though, the winners Nouet/Marschalkowski were disqualified because of the deactivated fire extinguishing system. The team wants to appeal the decision. But the stewards decision meant that Quick Gabi and Robert Haub were promoted to P3 overall and took the last podium position in their first ever ADAC GT4 weekend.
"P3 overall in our Sunday race. This is something no one expected." - said Jílková. "Great first weekend of ADAC GT4 Germany. I can’t wait for the next one."
Charlie Martin and Sandra van der Sloot scored their first podium in class with a strong performance as they finished third in the trophy class and were 16th overall.
"Wow, what a great feeling! Our first race weekend with Team Driverse in the ADAC GT4 Germany is over." - said a happy Sandra van der Sloot.
"On Friday we started the engines for the first time and we knew we would be a bit behind as we had spent much less time on track than other teams. So the most important thing was to get to know the track, the car and the team. And that's what we did! Every time we went out on the track, we improved. But not only the drivers, but also the mechanics and the whole crew. It was really all new for us! We made it on P3 in our class for the second race!", added the experienced Dutchwoman.
"After initial difficulties on Friday in the free practice sessions, we got together really well as
a completely new team over the course of the weekend." - explained Nicole Kösters, Team principal of Team Driverse. "We have never worked together in this constellation before. In addition, the track was completely new for the drivers and the Oschersleben circuit is technically very demanding. So I am really proud of the team that we managed to do so well."
"Everyone has the same goal in mind and the result on Sunday in the second race with third place in the Trophy classification shows that we are on the right track. We will now analyse the weekend, look at what went well and what we learned, and then come to the Red Bull Ring fully prepared."
Victoria Froß and Kovac crossed the finish line in P20, completing a solid first weekend.
The next ADAC GT4 round will take place on 11th to 13th June at the Redbull Ring, Austria, where Gabriela Jílková and Robert Haub will fight for the championship lead - currently sitting in third. Team Driverse will also continue their progress, targeting more success in class and in the overall standings.