102,000 spectators, blistering heat, celebrity guests and countless visits to the pit garage: ABT Sportsline’s home race at the Norisring was a weekend of extremes – also for the two ABT drivers Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller.
Kelvin van der Linde lost what he thought was a safe third place shortly before the finish on Saturday because a small magnet on the steering wheel of his ABT Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II, which is responsible for the impulses for shifting up, came loose in the extreme conditions. Instead of challenging last year’s team-mate René Rast for second place in the final phase, the ABT driver cruised around the circuit stuck in second gear and had to retire from the race with just five minutes to go.
Ricardo Feller experienced a different drama. On Sunday, the brake pedal of his car became so hot during the race that he suffered burns to his left foot. The Swiss gritted his teeth, held on despite the pain and was thus able to score points in the sixth DTM race of the year as well. Even though eighth and 14th places were not to his liking, Feller is in third place in the overall DTM standings.
Kelvin van der Linde managed almost identical lap times in qualifying on both days. On Saturday, he took fourth place on the grid with one of his typical Norisring laps, on Sunday, this was only good enough for ninth place on the grid. A spirited comeback drive, including the fastest race lap, still brought him fifth place and the best result of the season so far.
“When I look at where the other Audi cars were, we can be satisfied,” said Kelvin van der Linde. “I think we got the maximum out of it, showed great duels and scored good points with the top-five result on Sunday. The retirement on Saturday with a technical problem so close to the finish hurt, of course. But that’s how it is sometimes in motorsport. I hope I’ve had enough bad luck this season now!”
Ricardo Feller had to compete with 20 kilograms of extra weight after his victory at Zandvoort on Saturday. “Under these circumstances, the first race was quite okay for me,” says the Swiss. “I’m not as happy with Sunday. I expected us to improve, but it rather got worse. We have to analyse that and work hard to come back stronger at the Nürburgring. Still, a huge thanks to the whole team: they did a superb job again all weekend.”
ABT Motorsport Director Martin Tomczyk agrees: “Of course we leave the Norisring with mixed feelings because we simply had some blunt weapons here – especially in qualifying, but also in the race. On the straights, some of our competitors were simply much faster – and that’s what matters most at the Norisring. But I am happy with the performance of our drivers and our strategy. I also have to say many thanks to the team. To make perfect pit stops in these temperatures and to have the strategy so well in view is great.”
The Norisring weekend was an extreme strain for the mechanics not only because of the high temperatures. The ABT Sportsline pit garage was very busy on all four days. Head of ABT Sports Marketing Harry Unflath welcomed almost 200 guests, including such prominent names as ex-football pro Thomas Helmer. The women’s team of the 1.FC Nuremberg and the Ice Tigers Juniors also kept their fingers crossed for the two ABT drivers at the Norisring.
Now it’s time for the ABT Sportsline DTM team to take a deep breath before heading to the Nürburgring at the beginning of August.
Published by: ABT Sportsline
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