L urchi made it. He is the new champion in the ADAC GT Masters. His coachman Alex Margaritis tramples on his bonnet in Hockenheim and cheers. He puts his left fist in the crook of his right elbow and holds out his hand. That means: “We showed it to everyone!” By we he means himself, his teammate Dino Lunardi, the team - and of course Lurchi. It is the nickname of the green Alpina B6 GT3, which is emblazoned in the form of small lettering on the side. “At some point I saw the sticker and was amazed,” explains team boss Andreas Bovensiepen. “My mechanics asked if they could leave the lettering on. I couldn't refuse their request. ”
The mechanics have a special bond with their car. After all, the body shell with the chassis number 1 has been in use since 2009. She has even completed a 24-hour race on the Nürburgring. After a good 20,000 kilometers, Lurchi has finally reached his goal - GT3 champion!
Dino Lunardi and Alex Margaritis traveled to the season finale in Hockenheim with 28 points ahead of Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck and 50 points still to be awarded. With the fastest lap in both qualifying sessions, they already showed where the hammer is on Friday. On Saturday they closed the title bag with a victory in front of the Stuck brothers. As sovereign as the demonstration on the track may have looked, Margaritis was nervous before the decisive weekend. “Finally, that mental cinema of the last three weeks was gone,” he says. Like a big puzzle, he kept putting the different pieces together and figuring out when and how it could be enough for championship. This title meant more than just another trophy on the shelf for the whole team. The Alpina team only registered shortly before the start of the season. Initially, only the first three races were planned. “We thought from race to race. The money just wasn't there. It was therefore clear that if there were no successes, drivers with money would get behind the wheel, ”recalls the former DTM driver Margaritis.
Success came faster than expected. Lunardi and Margaritis won the opening race, three more victories should follow. After Margaritis was a little quieter in recent years, the German-Greek catapulted himself back into the minds of the motorsport decision-makers. HisTeam colleague Dino Lunardi has long since been considered to be an extinct species of dinosaur. “Dino is very helpful. We have no secrets from each other. I knew he was quick. But I was thrilled that it drives so flawlessly, ”says Margaritis in praise.
For team boss Andreas Bovensiepen there were several keys to success. One of them was the equivalent driver pairing. There was also the complete overhaul of the Alpina B6 GT3 over the winter and meticulous preparation. If a component was up for discussion, it was replaced. “We were especially at the top in the heat races with more than 25 degrees”, analyzes Margaritis. “Our advantage in terms of tire wear became noticeable. We decided all of these races in the last 20 minutes. When it was colder, however, we got stuck in midfield. ”At the final in Hockenheim it was more than 25 degrees Celsius on Sunday, but the Alpina boys were not able to win at the end of the season: Johannes Stuck squeezed himself at the start with the Lamborghini Gallardo of the Reiter team past Margaritis. Lurchi later rolled into the pit because of a gearbox failure. Hans-Joachim Stuck's sons would lose the victory they believed to be safe. Johannes was already sitting in the pits with a gold crown and was happy about the title for Reiter in the team classification, as Ferdinand slowly crawled two corners before the end of the race in the Motodrom and fell back to fifth.
The pictures spoke for themselves: The gasoline had run out. “In all the euphoria, we forgot to slow down a bit in the end,” explains team boss Hans Reiter the mishap. One man's suffering, the other's joy: For the first time this season, René Rast and Stefan Landmann were the first to cross the finish line in their Audi R8 from Phoenix Racing. But Reiter kept a smile on his face: at least he was able to look forward to the title in the team classification, the runner-up championship and the amateur title for Marc Hayek and Peter Kox. Even the visibly bent Stuck brothers remained a consolation. They secured the cross-series German GT3 championship at Hockenheim. In any case, they would not have dared to dream of such successes at the beginning of the season: 'We came to Hockenheim with hopes for the title, but being runner-up in our first year is terrific and by no means disappointing,' said Ferdinand, the younger brother.
'I would never have thought that we would be so closely bonded this year together and can no longer imagine driving alone.' Even team boss Reiter was surprised. Before the season, the goal was to get a podium place with the Stucks by the middle of the season. At the end of the season there are four wins and the runner-up title in the track record of the GT Masters newcomers. Not infrequently they had to listen to criticism that Gallardo was in theBalance of Performance rated too good. But Reiter defends his pilots: “Before the season, Johannes completed around 2000 test kilometers, Ferdinand a little less. Like any sport - training is crucial. They both drive well. ”This undoubtedly also applies to the youngsters on the Abt team. Luca Ludwig and Christopher Mies, who still had intact championship chances before the seventh event in Assen, split up into two cars in order to have greater chances of success.
In the end, Mies took third place in the table, while Ludwig only finished fourth. Team boss Christian Abt was slightly irritated at Hockenheim. Mies ‘new partner Christer Jöns received a penalty in Assen for lurching through the pit lane at less than the prescribed 40 km /h after the pit stop - allegedly in order not to undercut the prescribed minimum time for the pit stop. Abt does not consider this punishment to be justified: 'That was a wrong decision and it cost us part of our championship chances,' he says annoyed. His resentment against the race management peaked on Sunday in Hockenheim. Because Mies was accused of having left the lane several times in the north curve with all four wheels, he received a drive-through penalty. Abt found this again not justified and complained to the race management. After the driver change, his team-mate Christer Jöns did not even start the drive-through penalty because of the difference of opinion. This was followed by a 30-second penalty. Christian Abt burst his collar, he ordered his boys to pit. 'However, we also had problems with the brakes and were at the absolute limit,' said Jöns. In support of his statement, he rode wildly through the gravel bed in a duel with Mario Farnbacher because of the braking problems.
Farnbacher not only amazed Jöns. The youngest son of team principal Horst Farnbacher sat in the Ferrari 458 for the first time at a GT Masters weekend and replaced his older brother Dominik, who started the Petit Le Mans race in Road Atlanta. Like a seasoned professional, Farnbacher Junior put the car in fourth place in qualifying and in the first race with team-mate Niclas Kentenich came in sixth. In the finale on Sunday, he started a furious race to catch up in the second half of the race and brought the team to second place in Hockenheim after their first victory in the rain race in Assen. As soon as he got off the podium, the 19-year-old sprinted into the ADAC Formula Masters paddock because he also had three races on his schedule in this series. Father Horst had every reason to be proud: “We have improved the car in many areas over the course of the season. We were able to further develop the traction control, the dampers and the ABS. In addition, we are now driving with a different vehicle height and with different rain tires. Since Assenwe use a softer compound on the rear axle that was previously not available. ”
However, the ADAC GT Masters stint in Assen will be a thing of the past in future: the new calendar for 2012 provides for a race in Zandvoort instead . The track in Zolder, Belgium, is also being phased out and will be replaced by a second race on the Nürburgring. However, the final remains in Hockenheim. And who knows: Maybe Lurchi will celebrate there again in 2012?