The 17,800 spectators at Autodrom Most last weekend witnessed an impressive performance from Patric Niederhauser. It began with the HCB-Rutronik Racing driver claiming a maiden pole position in the ADAC GT Masters. Together with team-mate Kelvin van der Linde, he then converted it into a maiden victory. It was also a first win in the series for ADAC GT Masters newcomers HCB-Rutronik Racing.
Niederhauser took a gamble in qualifying on Saturday morning, delaying his hot lap until the end of the session. The risk paid off, as the Swiss 27-year-old put in a perfect lap to book his first ever pole position in the highly competitive ADAC GT Masters. Niederhauser successfully defended his lead at the start of the race and proceeded to pull out a gap. After the change of driver, van der Linde took the number 31 Audi R8 LMS through to a comfortable win. For Niederhauser, it was indeed a first victory in the ADAC GT Masters, but not his first at Autodrom Most: in the 2018 season, he lifted two winner’s trophies as a guest starter in the GT4 Central European Cup.
Their win in the ADAC GT Masters has been enough to take the duo to the top of the drivers’ standings which is where they still find themselves at the end of this most recent weekend. In Sunday’s race, Niederhauser and van der Linde battled their way through from tenth in the starting line up to fourth place at the chequered flag. They lead the drivers’ championship after four races of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters season on a total of 71 points, 17 ahead of the second-placed pairing. The Red Bull Ring at Spielberg in Austria will be hosting the third round of the Super Sports Car League on the weekend of 7th – 9th June.
Congratulations on your first win in the ADAC GT Masters! How are you feeling?
Patric Niederhauser : “Amazing, indescribable, brilliant, mega – there aren’t really any words that do justice to the way I’m feeling now. It’s great that I’ve been a part of this new team right from the start. I’ve felt at home from the first test, and I knew that the team were top performers. It’s awesome that we have made such a huge impression so early in the campaign. For me personally, it’s also come as a relief after so many tough years in the sport.”
When did you realise that you might be on for the win?
Patric Niederhauser : “After I pulled out a gap between myself and my closest pursuer, I knew that victory was possible. Everything worked perfectly, and I had a lot of fun in the car. When I was watching Kelvin in the second half of the race, I was actually more nervous than during my own stint. Luckily, I had some distraction, because I was sitting in the SPORT1 commentary box with Patrick Simon. I followed the last few minutes of the race with my team in our garage. The celebrations when the race finished were incredible. That’s when I realised just how passionate this team is. We are all totally motivated, and that’s what makes the euphoria even greater.”
On Sunday you had yet another reason to celebrate …
Patric Niederhauser : “Yes, fourth place was also a mega result for us, mainly because we had 30 kilos of extra weight on board. You notice that every time you brake, corner or accelerate. Kelvin put in a strong qualifying performance. He had a great first lap in the race and moved up to seventh place. After the change of driver, I clocked decent lap times and also overtook one opponent. But in the end, I had no chance of attacking the Corvette. It was a mega weekend for us, with a win and a P4. Thanks to the magnificent points haul, we’ve come away as championship leaders.”
Have you already started thinking of yourselves as title contenders?
Patric Niederhauser : “No, we’re not looking at where we are in the championship table just yet. We have to get the most out of every race, drive intelligently and avoid unnecessary risks so that we’ll still be in with a chance at the end of the season. We had the momentum with us on Saturday, and we used it to good effect with the win. We certainly wouldn’t have taken any risks to get that result, because a podium is always better than a DNF.”
In qualifying on Saturday, though, you did take something of a risk…
Patric Niederhauser : “Yes, that’s true. I gambled slightly by delaying my hot lap. We figured that the track was steadily improving. Anyway, the risk paid off. I drove a perfect lap. The car felt just great. For pole position, everything has to be just right: the car, the conditions, no red flags or the like.”
What are your expectations and objectives for the Red Bull Ring?
Patric Niederhauser : “I really like the track. The surroundings remind me of Switzerland, and that makes me feel at home. The circuit itself is unfortunately not all that favourable for the Audi, but we will give it our best shot. The Top Ten should definitely be a realistic target. The objective is to score as many points as we can and, if possible, to defend our championship lead.”
Press release Patric Niederhauser