Round’s five and six of the 2019 ADAC GT Masters took place at the home of the Austrian Formula 1 Grand Prix this weekend (8/9 June). Aidan Read once again made the long journey from Perth, Australia, to team up with Marvin Dienst in the Schütz Motorsport AMG Mercedes GT3.
It was another new venue for Aidan, and with that came the same challenges of intense competition from some of the best GT drivers in the world. It proved to be the toughest weekend of the championship so far for the 20-year-old Australian.
Getting to grips with the car and circuit over two days of practice on the undulating and wide sweeping Red Bull Ring, proved to be more difficult than the previous rounds. Schütz Motorsport and its drivers worked through a range of set ups to find the cars performance window to stay in touch with the many factory supported rivals that make up the GT Masters grid.
As has become the pattern, teammate Dienst took the Saturday’s first qualifying, achieving a creditable eighth spot on the grid for race one. However, after a frenetic start he was forced off the track on the opening lap running through the gravel trap and dropping back through the field to 26th position. Aidan took over at the half way point, left to battle with traffic at the back of the pack. But he managed to bring the car home in 18th place overall and crucially eighth in the Junior trophy to grab much needed points.
Aidan took the car into qualifying on Sunday but struggled to maximise the peak of the new tyres, posting a time that left him 27th on the grid; though just over a second off pole position, in the ultra-competitive field, where two tenths of a second improves your position by five or ten places.
The second race start was not favourable. Aidan tangled with some cars returning to the track after running wide at the first corner, and thus had to serve a drive-through penalty. Now running at the back but in clean air, he finally got the chance to string some strong laps together as he closed up on the back of the pack, before handing the car to Dienst.
A concerted and determined effort from his teammate, coupled with multiple discretions, incidents and penalties to the cars in front, saw an unexpected but welcomed 14th place finish overall and fifth in the Junior Trophy to maintain the pairings lead. The championship now takes a two-month break before returning at Zandvoort [The Netherlands] on the 10-11 August.
“That was a tough one to endure,” said Aidan. “I have been through a huge spectrum of emotions and experiences this weekend and I certainly know I’ve been at the races. I knew it would be tough on track, the GT Masters is definitely the most competitive GT3 racing in the world and at times it really felt it. But I’ve learned a lot, about my driving, the car, the pressures of racing at this level and somehow we managed to get some small results to keep us in the lead of the Junior Trophy. Which is a real lift for the team in what was definitely a tricky race meeting. I’m fired up to come back to Zandvoort next time out and push as hard as I can.”
Prior to that outing, Aidan makes his way to the Nordschlife – and the famous Nurburgring – to undertake his race permit before his VLN Series debut later in the year.
“I can’t wait to tackle “the ring” I’ve heard so much about it and the place sounds absolutely awesome. Racing here in a German based series where all my peers and competitors have developed as drivers on the world’s toughest track, I can see the importance of “ring” experience and can’t wait to get there in a weeks time.”