ADAC GT: Alessi/Keilwitz win Race 1 in Zandvoort
Exciting wheel-to-wheel racing, 40 super sports cars battling it out against the backdrop of wind-swept dunes, and a result that could have gone either way right up to the end: this was the best possible advert for the ADAC GT Masters making its debut at Zandvoort. The first excursion for the 'Super Sports Car League' outside the borders of Germany ended in a thrilling contest between Corvette Motorsport driver Daniel Keilwitz (Callaway Competition) and local favourite Jeroen den Boer (DB Motorsport). But on the last few laps, race leader Keilwitz kept his nerve to share with team-mate Diego Alessi, the honour of picking up the first ADAC GT Masters trophy for Corvette since 2009. "It was very exciting - towards the end, I could hardly bare to look at the monitor," said co-winner Alessi. Den Boer and Simon Knap finished as runners-up ahead of local favourite Jeroen Bleekemolen, who shared the remaining podium spot with Porsche 911 co-driver Robert Renauer.
The quickest man off the mark was Finnish driver Jesse Krohn in the Ford GT. After a phenomenal start from tenth, the Ford had advanced to second by the end of the first lap. On lap three, the 'Flying Finn' overtook pole-sitter Simon Knap and retained the lead until the pit stop. But the changeover to team-mate Nico Verdonck (26, B) took so long that the Belgian emerged from the pit lane back in sixth. Keilwitz took over the lead after excellent work from co-driver Alessi to advance the Corvette up the field in the first half of the race. The Italian thus managed to mitigate his error in free practice when, despite being the fastest man in qualifying, he was handed a ten-place grid penalty for an earlier offence in free practice.
Keilwitz did not have an easy run-in and came under severe pressure from den Boer. But the Corvette driver managed to hold off the challenge from the Dutchman to claim his first ADAC GT Masters win. "It was very tight; the BMW kept closing on all the corners, but then I kept pulling away on the straights again," said winner Keilwitz. He also praised his team-mate: "It was fantastic how Diego Alessi prepared the way for me."
Local hero Bleekemolen, making a guest appearance in the Porsche 911, also had cause for satisfaction. After good work by team-mate Robert Renauer and a perfect pit stop, the Renauer/Bleekemolen partnership took the remaining podium spot. The Ford duo of Krohn/Verdonck finished fourth ahead of Dino Lunardi/ Maxime Martin. The BMW ALPINA partnership drove a tactically astute race to build on their current championship lead.
Additional drivers quotes:
Diego Alessi (#28 Callaway Competition – Corvette Z06.R GT3): "I could have perhaps made up a few more places at the start, but I didn´t want to take any risks. Then I was able to benefit from a few battles between cars and gain places. My team colleague Andreas Wirth was then able to get past me fairly. After that I concentrated on my pace and saved the tyres. The pit stop was perfect and Daniel was able to take the lead."
Daniel Keilwitz (#28 Callaway Competition – Corvette Z06.R GT3): "It was very close at the end, the BMW was always able to get a little bit closer under braking. We are missing a bit of drive in the corners, but I was always able to pull away on the straights. Diego´s strong drive laid the foundations for our victory.
Simon Knap / Jeroen den Boer have a second chance of winning their home race in Sunday's second race. Den Boer starts from pole position ahead of team-mate Dominik Schwager. Corvette driver Frank Kechele (25, Ulm / Callaway Competition) shares the second row with championship leader Maxime Martin in the BMW ALPINA.