Swiss driver Patric Niederhauser and his team True Racing nursed big ambitions as they travelled to the North Sea coast last weekend. The Zandvoort Circuit in the Netherlands was the venue for the fifth and penultimate meeting of the 2019 GT4 European Series. Niederhauser’s and teammate Reinhard Kofler’s chances of winning the Silver Cup classification were still intact, but after being forced by another competitor to retire from Race 1 and only taking sixth place in the second round, all hopes of securing the first title win in the history of the race series have evaporated.
Niederhauser’s weekend started positively. The driver pairing in the KTM X-Bow prepared by the Austrian racing team took fifth place in damp conditions during first practice. Weather conditions during qualifying were even more difficult, as the track was gradually drying out, but Niederhauser qualified fifth, securing a good starting position for the first race. Conditions were again mediocre for the second qualifying session and teammate Kofler booked grid slot seven.
Niederhauser remained within striking distance of the leaders during the first race. Their KTM X-Bow was hit by a fellow competitor shortly after handing over the car to Kofler, and their race ended in the gravel bed through no fault of their own. The second round was interrupted immediately after the start by an accident and was restarted behind the safety car. The team chose a different strategy to most of the other teams and did not bring Kofler in to swap drivers until shortly before the pit stop window closed. A small mistake during the pit stop then cost them vital seconds and a possible podium finish.
Niederhauser will now take a well-deserved break for the summer before returning to the dune circuit which is extremely popular with fans and drivers, racing under the banner of the ADAC GT Masters this time, 9th-11th August.
Patric, after making a really strong start to the season, bad luck now seems to be following you. How would you sum up your weekend ?
Patric Niederhauser : “We had hoped for more, of course, and would like to have been in a position on the grid, from where we could have actively fought for the drivers’ title, but we were thwarted in our efforts, unfortunately, as happened with the penalty at Misano. Everyone in the team works hard during the entire season and is always prepared to go the extra mile, so it’s a pity when vital points slip through your fingers and there’s nothing you can do about it.”
What happened in the first race ?
Patric Niederhauser : “Everything went according to plan right from the start. I stayed with the leading group and handed the car over with good prospects of a podium finish. My teammate quickly found a good rhythm until he was taken out good and proper on Lap 3 by one of the Camaros. We landed in the gravel trap and our race was over while our fellow competitor got off scot-free and finished second in the end. It doesn’t take a great mind to work out where we might have finished but for this incident that had such serious consequences.”
You showed your potential once again in Race 2, but why wasn’t it enough to secure a podium finish ?
Patric Niederhauser : “My teammate Reini did a good job in the first stint. He stayed out longer than the others, which put us in a good position strategically. The driver handover went really well, but unfortunately, I made a small mistake. We lost a bit of time and rejoined the track in sixth place instead of among the Top Three. My lap times after that were very good and above all consistent, so it was obviously very annoying and I’m sorry about it for the team.”
You can now, finally, take a break before returning to the Netherlands in August…
Patric Niederhauser : “The way I feel about things, I would be happy to continue racing this weekend. Reini and I will do all we can at the Nürburgring towards the end of August to ensure that everyone in Team True Racing gets the end to the season they deserve. And we can still make it onto the the podium in the championship by our own efforts – that should be possible with a little less bad luck. But before that, I’ll be competing in the ADAC GT Masters where the goal obviously is to pull out a lead in the championship standings. We will do our utmost to be well-placed in qualifying, as Zandvoort is one of those tracks where overtaking is very difficult. The changeable weather there can, of course, be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. At Zandvoort, you never really know what’s going to happen. Still, the track should suit our Audi R8 LMS quite well. We will not try to win come what may but will focus on taking as many points as possible. I’m extremely confident that we will do that successfully.”
Press release Patric Niederhauser ; pictures Joel Kernasenko