Mixed Results for Wirth at Hockenheim Facing his home track of Hockenheim this weekend the pressure was on for Andreas Wirth and the ALPINA S-Berg Racing team to get it right as family, friends, sponsors and partners looked on. While the...
Mixed Results for Wirth at Hockenheim
Facing his home track of Hockenheim this weekend the pressure was on for Andreas Wirth and the ALPINA S-Berg Racing team to get it right as family, friends, sponsors and partners looked on.
While the team seemed somewhat happier with the performance of the #14 at the beginning of the three-day spectacle, optimism was replaced by disappointment and frustration by the end of day one.
Wirth explains, "Well, the car was good last weekend at Brno in the FIA GT3 events, so we felt good about it going into the weekend. Even though our first practice wasn't great, I could tell the car was already better than what we had at the Sachsenring earlier this month. By our second practice we were already up to 6th, so we just kept pushing for it in Qualifying. Unfortunately though, both Martin (Matzke) and I had our fastest qualifying laps taken away for "going off track" during our run - it's really frustrating because all we did was use the curbs to get the most out of the car. On top of that, there was a red flag during my qualifying session, so we were pretty frustrated. Martin would have had pole, and I'd have put in a 3rd or 4th - instead we started 4th and 9th."
Though disappointed, the pair of Matzke and Wirth was confident they would see better results in the races as their starting positions weren't completely hopeless, and their car seemed somewhat improved. Tragically the #14's familiar mechanical problems once again put a stranglehold on any hopes they had for race one. "It really was a race to forget," began Wirth, "the car was good for the first few laps but then we lost power and were losing a lot of time every lap. After we pitted to fix the problem we were one of the fastest cars out there! What can I say - it's just one of those things, no one does it on purpose and it's no one's fault, things just didn't go our way so we'll have to keep working hard with it." Clearly unhappy with a 21st place finish the team was eager to put this one behind them and get on with Sunday's event.
Race two brought with it its own share of drama, but with a much better outcome and a top five finish. Wirth explains, "The start was good but the Ascari behind me didn't brake for the first turn so I had to brake really hard so I didn't t-bone him! We lost a good 15 seconds to the top four cars, and about 5 positions on the first corner. Then, in turn three there was another incident and everyone was having to do slalom through the hairpin - so we lost more there. I guess we should be happy with 5th today - it could have been a lot worse with people trying to win races within the first few corners. The good thing is the car was much better today so I could fight to make some positions back. It was really cool to get in some good overtaking within the motodrome in front of the fans."
Summing up the weekend and their results thus far in the GT Masters Wirth concluded, "It's disappointing that we still seem to have problems, because I know the guys are working really hard on it and we thought we were there this weekend. I know this car, and we could easily be top three in the standings if it weren't for this - every weekend it manages to show us it's capable of running at the front, so we don't lose hope. We've got testing coming up next week and everyone will be working even harder to get it sorted out, so we will see. We keep thinking positive that our luck will turn around, and we'll keep fighting."
Andreas returns with fond memories to TT Circuit Assen in the Netherlands July 16 - 18 for the next round of ADAC GT Masters Series competition - it was there that he broke the then track record strapped behind the wheel of a Champ Car in 2007.
Andreas Wirth and Martin Matzke are currently tied for 7th place in the standings.