Jeffrey Schmidt doubly out of luck at ADAC GT Masters in Austria
The third race weekend of the 2017 ADAC GT Masters took Jeffrey Schmidt to Austria and the Red Bull Ring. The Montaplast by Land Motorsport driver laid down a marker in qualifying for the first race as the second-fastest of the Audi contingent contesting the Super Sports Car League. But the first race failed to go according to plan for him and his team-mate Christopher Haase. After putting in several strong laps at the start, a puncture dropped them far down the running order, thwarting their hopes of another finish in the points. Then on Sunday, the same fate befell the pairing in Race 2. The next race weekend (21st – 23rd July) is scheduled for the roller-coaster circuit in the coastal dunes of Zandvoort, where Schmidt intends to build on previous successes and get back into points-scoring ways.
In your qualifying session, you booked P11 on the grid. Was that the maximum for the Red Bull Ring?
Absolutely! I was the second-best Audi in the field. On this track with its multiple straights, the other manufacturers have a clear advantage. Obviously, I am always setting my own sights higher. As the second-fastest of ten Audis in the field, I can feel satisfied with this result – especially as I was only five thousandths of a second off matching the time of the best Audi.
In the race, though, you were out of luck…
Yes, that was extremely frustrating. I got off to a great start and had already overtaken four cars on the first two laps. But then a spin by another car left a lot of gravel on the track. I must have picked up a small, jagged stone in my right rear tyre. It then started to lose pressure. When I braked, I was losing the rear of the car and it was lifting up at the front. It felt like a tricycle. We obviously wanted to somehow keep going until the pit stop window opened, but unfortunately that didn’t work out. So we lost a lot of time because of that anyway, but later we were handed a drive-through penalty for a contact my team-mate had with another car. At this point, though, we were already outside the points because of our extra stop. Really a pity, because P7 would have been a distinct possibility.
Unfortunately, fate was once again unkind to you in the second race…
Yes, that made it really a disappointing weekend. We had invested so much time and energy in the three test days and given it everything we’d got. The team did a great job and then, on the third lap, we once again had a puncture. I hadn’t had a single puncture in four years, and now I’ve had two within the space of just two days. This is very frustrating, especially as only one other car apart from us got caught out in this way. It meant that our second race was also effectively over, because after the early tyre change, we had no chance of scoring points.
The next ADAC GT Masters race takes place at Zandvoort in just under six weeks. What are your expectations of the circuit? I took two pole positions in the Porsche Carrera Cup there last year, so I have good memories. The track should be better for the Audi. What’s more, it’s really cool and demanding. I like the ascents and descents – it’s up hill and down dale similar to a Swiss mountain landscape. The only drawback in Zandvoort is that overtaking is very difficult. It’s one of the oldest circuits on the race calendar and is therefore very tight, almost too tight for the very wide and powerful GT3 cars we have nowadays. That makes qualifying all the more important. Anyway, I’m looking forward to the event!