Another double win and dominant weekend for Rahel Frey
Rahel Frey added two more dominant victories to her resumé, as she scored her fourth win of the season in the Audi Sport Seyffarth Cup at the Nurburgring.
Swiss superstar driver Rahel Frey is having a busy year: after the prestigious podium at Silverstone in the European Le Mans Series, she made her return to the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup this weekend, as the one-make series was back on the DTM supporting schedule. The former DTM driver wasn't the only lady on the grid through, as 21-year old Sophie Hofmann returned to the series after her GT debut last round at Most.
Frey led the practice session but then qualified third for both the races. At the start of Saturday's race, she had a stunning run towards the first corner and surprised Rudolf Rhyn with a last-second dive to take the lead of the race. After the first lap, Rahel led Rhyn, Reiter and Rogalski, with Sophie Hofmann settling in 12th.
Frey signed the fastest lap of the race on lap 5, but her compatriot Rhyn managed to stay within the 2 seconds gap. One lap later, Spitzenberger spun at the last corner, but rejoined in the hard-fighting midfield.
In the second half of the race, Frey's pace became unreachable for her competitors and the Swiss lady started to open a small but constant gap of over 3 seconds.
Right behind the leaders, some entertaining battles emerged for third and fifth places: Tim Reiter had to give it his all to defend from the fast charging Robin Rogalski, while Mike Hesse did eventually make a move stick on Jedrzej Szczesniak and moved up to fifth on lap 14, when the Polish driver went a bit too deep under braking at the first corner.
After 19 laps around the 3.629 km short-Nürburgring track, Rahel Frey took a commanding victory over Swiss Rudolf Rhyn and Tim Reiter, while Rogalski and Hesse rounded out the top 5.
"With a GT4 vehicle, you have to drive very smoothly here and not allow yourself mistakes, because the asphalt is very hard on the tyres." - commented Rahel after the first race, who also stands as a coach to the younger drivers. "In the race, I had to try not to overdrive the car, which I did well. I admit that in this regard I have also copied something from Tim Reiter's driving style. At the start I saw that Rudolf hesitated a bit and then I stung into the gap. I just had to go for this opportunity."
Sophie Hofmann had an off on the last lap at the chicane and was classified 13th.
It was 20-year old Tim Reiter to start from pole position in the second race, followed by Rogalski and Frey. After the rolling start, the poleman defended well the inside and forced Rahel Frey to try the outside line, this time unsuccessfully. The experienced lady had then to defend from Rogalski who had a good exit from the Mercedes Arena. In the hectic first lap, Rhyn had a bried off at the chicane but rejoined in 8th place. Sophie Hofmann once again held her 12th position.
Immediately behind the leading group, drivers engaged in a very close battle from fifth to ninth place: Mike Hesse, Max Zschuppe, Patrick Schneider, Tom Spitzenberger, Rudolf Rhyn and Christian Wicht had some exciting side-by-side action until Zschuppe spun and was avoided by the rest of the pack. When the dust had settled, it was Hesse in P5, ahead of Schneider and Spitzenberger.
Frey spent the first half of the race managing her tyres and then started to put pressure on Reiter: with 20 minutes left on the clock she closed the gap and tried to find a way past the German driver. The attack did come at lap 9, when Rahel made a decisive move under braking at turn one and completed a clean pass for the lead.
She was then able to open a safe gap of almost a second and crossed the finish line to take home her second win of the weekend and fourth of the season. Reiter brought home his #32 Audi R8 in second place, ahead of championship leader Robin Rogalski.
Rahel Frey praised her young competitors after the second race as well: "Tim did a really good job, improved a lot over the season and developed so well. His speed is really good and he still learns to fight. Overall, it was a great weekend for me; I'm always happy to start the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup here."
This was her fourth win over 6 races in the one-make Audi championship this year, as the 33-year old missed three more rounds due to clashing commitments.
At the back of the field, Sophie Hofmann had to resist the attacks of Matthias Kämpf, but was ultimately able to finish in 12th. Her second appearance in the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup was one more step in the learning process of transitioning from a TCR experience to GT cars.
In Rahel's words:
"Overall, it was a great weekend for me; I'm always happy to start the Audi Sport Seyffarth R8 LMS Cup here."
Ph credits: Alexander Trienitz