Brilliant recovery for Gabriela Jílková at Oschersleben in ADAC GT4 Germany first race
Gabriela Jílková and Robert Haub had a bittersweet yet promising weekend at the ADAC GT4 opener: from a P1 in practice, a furious recovery and a fast qualifying, to an unfortunate end to the Oschersleben round.
The new ADAC racing season has started and with it, one of the most competitive GT4 fields in Europe. ADAC GT4 Germany had one of the biggest starting grids at its opening weekend at Oschersleben, when the series returned as a support event to the popular ADAC GT Masters. Six different brands are represented: Aston Martin, BMW, KTM, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Toyota. And something new is powering the cars: the new "Blue Gasoline 98 GT Masters", an environmentally friendly fuel manufactured by 50% from regeneratively-produced components. Gabriela Jílková and Robert Haub are back in the series for their second season - this time with new team zvo Racing, albeit still with the well-known Mercedes-AMG GT4 platform, in new colors. The duo won the GT Winter Series class title once again and have big ambitions for their many commitments in 2022. Jílková's first place in practice at Oschersleben confirmed their pace, which was already evident from the GTC-Race round two weeks ago. The first qualifying, though, was a tricky session as a red flag interrupted the drivers and the action was not restarted; Phil Dörr took pole ahead of Ben Dörr (both Dörr Motorsport) and Lenerz (piro sports-Burg Zelem Foundation). Robert Haub finished in P16 as he couldn't complete the final run due the red flag. But that was not at all an insurmountable obstacle for the Czech-American driver pairing: straight from the start, Robert Haub passed several cars and after a strong performance, handed over the car in 12th place to Gabriela Jílková. Ahead, Phil Dörr kept the lead after the start, while his brother Ben Dörr lost a position to Lerenz. But further down the order, there was drama for Theo Overhaus who lost control of his car after a contact with another driver and brought out the Safety Car. There were no position changes in the lead at the restart and the top four drivers were able to pull away from the rest of the field. Reigning champion Piana pulled off with damages from a collision. The pit window was scence for some changes: a fast stop saw Ben Dörr handing his car over to Romain Leroux, who rejoined in second position behind Indy Dontje, Phil Dörr's teammate. Unchallenged, Dörr/Dontje won with an over 11-second gap to Dörr/Leroux and Lenerz/Piro in third. Gabriela Jílková and Robert Haub had a good pit stop and Gabriela was out on track in 10th position, when she started a furious charge. The Czech driver was flying through the field with impressive pace and passed car after car. At the end of the race, she scored a 6th place that showed once again what this duo is capable of. "Today we feel like the winners! From P16 -> P6!" - wrote Jílková on Saturday afternoon.
Sunday started again with some great promise for the zvo crew, as Gabriela Jílková set the fourth fastest time in Q2 to start from the second row, behind Wood (McKey, Racing One), Dontje (Dörr) and Still (Kronberg, W&S Motorsport). From pole, Wood pulled away into the lead - and behind him, Dontje and Still battled hard for the remaining podium positions. Strangely, Gabriela Jílková struggled for pace in her Mercedes-AMG - as she couldn't find the right tyre pressure and had a big train of cars behind her. Nevertheless, she was not willing to give up any position: with hard battles, she was able to defend fourth place at first, but she started to drop down the order with too much pick-up on her tyres. As the window opened, the first drivers pitted - while two separate collisions happened on track: Denis Bulatov (EastSide Motorsport) ended up stuck into the gravel after a touch from an Aston Martin and a spin. Similar fate awaited Nicolaj Møller-Madsen (AVIA W&S Motorsport) and Leo Pichler (W&S Motorsport), while Axel Sartingen (Black Falcon Team Textar) was able to continue after the collisions. The race direction waited until the end of the pit window to send out the Safety Car, which bunched up the field once again. In first place, McKay - having taken over from Wood - defended his position while Andronaco (König, Allied-Racing) made his way up from sixth to second. But a second Safety Car phase neutralized everything once again. At the restart, Andronaco passed McKay and drove to their first victory of the season, ahead of McKay/Wood and Dörr/Dontje. Robert Haub was running in seventh place after the pit stops and found a slightly better pace in the second stint. Unfortunately, a few mistakes dropped him further down, until he had contact with another car and had to park the Mercedes off track to retire from the race. They were classified P22, but scored no points. With an impressive race on Saturday - and very promising pace in both qualifying sessions - they are now 13th in the drivers championship and will return to aim for the top in ADAC GT4 at the Red Bull Ring, from 20th to 22nd May.