Hockenheim: Strong showing from Dennis Marschall in ADAC GT Masters grand finale goes unrewarded
For BMW Team Schnitzer driver Dennis Marschall, the highlight of the ADAC GT Masters calendar came around last weekend. For the 22-year-old who lives in Eggenstein-Leopoldshafen, the Hockenheimring is his home race venue. It also happened to be the final fixture of the 2018 season. More than 25,000 spectators turned up at the historic race track in Baden-Württemberg to see the Super Sports Car League in action for the last time this year. Marschall once again made a favourable impression with the strength of his performance in the BMW M6 GT3.
After a run of problematic weekends, he was back in peak form for Sunday’s qualifying. Marschall braved challenging external conditions to qualify eighth in a 34-strong field as second-best BMW driver. Despite the promising grid position, he missed out on the points once again, just as he had on Saturday.
In the first race, Marschall and co-driver Victor Bouveng made an impressive recovery from a disappointing P21 in qualifying. But an eleventh-place finish left them frustratingly just outside the points, a result that was not least due to a time penalty imposed on the number 43 BMW after a transgression within the chaotic first few metres.
The pace for a Top Ten finish was also there on Sunday. Marschall was involved in several battles for position towards the end of his stint, which cost him valuable time and hence the loss of several positions at the pit stop. Just like Marschall the day before, Bouveng crossed the finish line in eleventh place, a mere one second behind the car in P10. Despite missing out on the Top Ten, the BMW Team Schnitzer duo nonetheless added to their points tally in the Junior classification on both days.
Dennis talking about …
… the charge through the field in the first race: “Our P21 grid position was of course unsatisfactory. After all, we were only two and a half tenths down on our sister car, but that’s the difference between fifth and tenth on the grid. Victor got off to a good start in the race. Too good, you might say: we got a five-second time penalty because our car deviated from the corridor defined in the regulations. The penalty dropped us back down the running order when we changed drivers. That was not pleasant. On the other hand, it’s sometimes a risk you have to take at the start if you want to make an instant gain in terms of positions. I then took the car back out in 15th place. My lap times were good and I moved up to eleventh. In the end, not scoring even a single point was a disappointing outcome. Also, we finished fourth in the Junior championship: so we missed a points finish and missed the Junior podium. But sometimes, that’s the way it works out – you just have to live with it.”
… the strong performance on Sunday: “Eighth place amounted to another strong quali this year, but I was not completely satisfied. Although we had achieved our target of qualifying in the Top Ten, it could actually have been a lot better. My start was good – we managed to avoid the pile-up on the first corner and were seventh after the restart. The pace was good, and I was able to keep up with the group in front of me. The turning point in the race was a battle for position just before the pit stop. A Mercedes made a mistake in front of me, and I attacked him. We both lost time, but I lost even more. After the change of drivers, he was fourth and we were only tenth. If I had just been content to follow, I feel sure we would have been fourth. That annoyed me a lot, but it’s always easy to be smart after the event. In the end, it was eleventh place for us yet again.”
… his summary of the race weekend: “After the difficult weekends at Zandvoort and at the Sachsenring, Hockenheim was definitely a positive. It’s obviously frustrating that we so narrowly missed out on the points twice. On the other hand, though, we have seen a clear upward trend in terms of pace. We were able to compete for a Top 10 place through our own efforts. P8 in qualifying was great, but in the end, I was even more satisfied with Saturday than Sunday because, despite a disadvantageous grid position, we made very good progress through the field.”
… the special atmosphere at his home race: “The town where I live is only about half an hour’s drive away from the Hockenheimring, so coming here is always a very special occasion. There are so many relatives, friends and sponsors present. You’re pleased about that, although you sometimes feel guilty about finding so little time for everyone between all the meetings. But it was nice to see how excited they were about the event. I received only positive feedback, and that’s what matters.”