Last weekend (8th - 10th June), the Red Bull Ring hosted the third fixture of the 2018 ADAC GT Masters. In front of more than 12,000 spectators, Honda Team Schubert Motorsport deployed two Honda NSX GT3s for the first time. Alongside the two youngsters Christopher Dreyspring and Giorgio Maggi, the team sent the experienced duo of Philipp Frommenwiler and Honda factory driver Esteban Guerrieri into action at the wheel of the second NSX GT3.
The entry of the second super sports car was made possible by Honda Team Schubert Motorsport working in close collaboration with JAS Motorsport. The Italian company that is co-developing the Honda NSX GT3 seconded various key members of staff to Austria, including a chief technical support engineer, as well as several engineers and mechanics. Right from the word go, the work proceeded in total harmony and both sides benefited from each other’s knowledge.
In the first qualifying session, the second Honda made a strong impression. Frommenwiler qualified in eleventh position but was demoted to P14 after being handed a penalty. Right at the start of the race, he was involved in multiple no-fault collisions with other vehicles, as a result of which he lost some positions. He later handed over to Guerrieri who eventually brought the car home in 28th. In the second race, the duo staked everything on a single roll of the dice: having started from way back in 20th, Guerrieri made a quick dash for the pits when the rain began to fall. While others stayed out on slicks, the Argentine gambled on a possible safety car deployment, which then failed to materialise. The duo were unable to claw back the time spent making the additional pit stop and could only finish in 22nd place.
Team-mate Maggi decided on a similar tactic on Sunday and came in for an early tyre change. Despite the additional stop, the Swiss youngster and co-driver Dreyspring improved from 30th to 26th in difficult conditions. The two juniors were in any case delighted to be involved in their first competitive outing at the Red Bull Ring. Starting from P16, Dreyspring made rapid progress. Both he and Maggi pulled off some impressive passing manoeuvres. It looked at one point as if the two youngsters might be heading for a Top Ten finish, but sadly a safety car deployment nullified the gap they had pulled out. A blameless contact with another car towards the end of the race cost them positions, and they eventually had to settle for 17th. But they at least had the satisfaction of registering their best result to date.
Watching the proceedings was a special visitor. The well-known German actor Hardy Krüger Jr was VIP guest of Honda Team Schubert Motorsport over the weekend and evidently liked what he saw. The TV star accepted an invitation to present the trophies after the Sunday race.
Comments on the weekend:
Team Manager Frank Link: “We worked very successfully with JAS Motorsport this weekend. We complemented each other in all respects and benefited from each other’s knowledge. We were very fast in the wet but were not always able to convert this into pace in dry conditions. Having a second car as a point of reference was especially helpful to our two youngsters. Overall, they acquitted themselves very well this weekend and pulled off some impressive passing moves. So far, luck has not been on our side, and the results are not quite as we imagined. We have embarked on a learning process that is ongoing.”
Giorgio Maggi (car number 9): “The wheel-to-wheel action in the first race was a lot of fun. It would have been nice if we’d ultimately been rewarded with 12th place. Unfortunately, another car bumped into me, and I lost some positions. Experience was crucial in the Sunday race. I had the feeling that a change to wet tyres was unavoidable. This strategy might have paid off, but unfortunately for us, the weather got better and we were unable to make up the time we had lost on the additional pit stop.”
Christopher Dreyspring (car number 9): “If I’d just been able to get all the sectors together in my qualifying session, I might have been able to get into the Top Eight. After a good start, I settled in and subsequently handed over in 14th. Unfortunately, the safety car did not play into our hands, as we lost the gap we had built up. This resulted in a collision with an opponent, which put us well back down the field. The Sunday race was a bit crazy, and no-one can ultimately say what the right decision would have been. Our pace in the rain was extremely good. We still have work to do on our qualifying performance to mount a serious attack.”
Philipp Frommenwiler (car number 10): “Unfortunately, the race weekend didn’t quite go as we had hoped. At the moment, it’s hard to say which settings we need to tweak. Qualifying on Saturday went quite well with eleventh place, but in the race, I got hit several times within the first two corners. As a result, I came off the track and lost several positions. All in all, we were slightly lacking in sufficient pace to compete at or near the front. It’s now all about planning for the rest of the season so that we can show the true potential of the Honda NSX GT3.”
Esteban Guerrieri (car number 10): “I’ll take away a lot of positive experiences from this weekend, and I’ve met some very professional and passionate people. It’s a learning process in which everyone pulls together, and it won’t be long before that translates into results. In Sunday’s race, I thought the early tyre change would be the best decision. I had expected to be significantly faster on rain tyres or to benefit from a safety car. Unfortunately, neither turned out to be the case. But if we had pulled it off, we would have been the heroes of the race.”
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