Unlucky first race for Jilková and Froß in ADAC GT4 at Sachsenring
Gabriela Jilková and Robert Haub were once again showing great speed as a team, but bad luck ended their race on the penultimate lap. Victoria Froß and Franjo Kovac battled with issues on their car throughout the first race day.
It was a cold and drizzly morning at the Sachsenring when the field of the ADAC GT4 hit the track for their qualifying session, as the first track activity on Saturday. The series has been experiencing a noticeable growth lately, with Aston Martin, McLaren, KTM and Porsche strengthening the grid. The third to last round this weekend sees 26 cars – the biggest field so far. Among them, two teams with female drivers: Zakspeed's Gabriela Jilková, sharing the Mercedes AMG GT4 with Robert Haub, as well as Besagroup Racing's Mercedes with Victoria Froß and Franjo Kovac behind the wheel. Jilková and Haub are still in the championship title battle, currently third in championship standings. The free practice sessions were not easy for both teams. Jilková and Haub battled with the additional weight of +55 kg on the undulating Sachsenring track, and are still building experience compared to teammates Marschalkowski and Nouet. Froß and Kovac, however, had a performance issue on the #17 car which couldn't be fixed throughout the day. The surprising pole sitter was the debuting Aston Martin of Prosport Racing with Sasse and Ortmann in the driving seat, ahead of the Zakspeed Mercedes of Marschalkowski/Nouet and the Dörr Motorsport crew of Dontje/Jöns – who are driving with the Space Drive steering system this weekend. Robert Haub got behind the wheel for the first qualifying and had to manage both the drizzle and the additional weight. He set the 20th fastest lap for the grid of race 1 later, contested later in the day. Race 1 saw a rocket start by Sasse, who pulled away quickly – but, after a mistake, he dropped behind Marschalkowski. But he didn't have much time to enjoy the lead, as he received – together with other cars including Haub/Jilková – a penalty for inaccurate grid position and lost the lead as he went through the penalty zone after Turn one. Haub, who was up to 15th place, was forced to complete a penalty lap as well and dropped back to 20th again. "We were penalised because we were not in the correct starting corridor." – Haub told us. "But back in the grid you watch the guys in front of and around you and you follow them. You can't see further ahead", he said. Until the pit window opened, positions remained unchanged, with Sasse ahead of Piana and Marschalkowski. The top-three handed over to Ortmann, Schrey and Nouet. Piana had to defend hard against Marschalkowski – he passed him, but Schrey fought back. Benefiting from that action was the McLaren of Jöns, who passed Nouet first and Schrey later, finishing 2nd ahead of Marschalkowski/Noeut and behind Sasse/Ortman, who took the victory of the first Sachsenring race, at the Aston Martin debut. Victoria Froß and Franjo Kovac finished the race in P23 as they still battled with their car and were unfortunately four laps down.
Robert Haub had a good start, was able to pass several cars and made the move up to P15 before receiving the penalty. He had more trouble as he made contact with a KTM – who made contact on the left side of the Zakspeed Mercedes and spun. Shortly after the encounter, Haub handed over the Zakspeed Mercedes to Gabriela Jilková, where some quick taping of the battle scars was applied.
However, Jilková – always giving proof of her nickname – worked her way up to P13. On the penultimate lap, she tried to avoid a car that lost control in front of her, but couldn't avoid the contact, which damaged the left front of her car and forced her to stop in the gravel.
"Unfortunately DNF." – she wrote. "We were fighting for P13 when an Audi in front of me made a mistake, lost control of the car and I had no space to avoid the crash. Thanks to all mechanics who are putting our car together for tomorrow. Keep the fingers crossed."
The team is on a mission to fix the car until the next qualifying session, scheduled for 08:40 (local time) in the morning.