ADAC GT Masters keeps up suspense, all seven title contenders suffer setbacks

None of the remaining contenders scores points in the penultimate race of the season Hrtgen and Schwager notch up second BMW Z4 triumph of 2012 Porsche man Dolenc claims amateur title with win

The final weekend of the 2012 ADAC GT Masters season has turned out to be a real thriller, as none of the seven title challengers managed to score even a single championship point.

We now have to wait until Sunday before seeing the new champion(s) crowned. Taking full advantage of the situation were Claudia Hrtgen (40, Aachen) and Dominik Schwager (36, Munich / Schubert Motorsport) in their BMW Z4, claiming full points for the first time this season ahead of Porsche 911 duo Robert Renauer (27, Jedenhofen) and Nicolas Armindo (30, France / FROGREEN CO2 neutral). Florian Stoll (31, Rickenbach) and Daniel Dobitsch (28, Austria / kfzteile24 MS RACING Team) driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG completed the podium party. But at least there is one driver who can start the celebrations early: Swen Dolenc (44, Maulbronn / FACH AUTO TECH) in his Porsche 911 wrapped up the amateur title on Saturday with an eighth victory of the season in this classification.The penultimate ADAC GT Masters race of the season developed into a drama in four acts for the seven drivers who are still mathematically able to win the title. Championship leader Diego Alessi (40, Italy / Callaway Competition) got his Corvette sandwiched between two Mercedes-Benz at the start and had to retire with damaged suspension. Act 2 involved defending champion Dino Lunardi (33, France) and Maxime Martin (26, Belgium / ALPINA) in their BMW ALPINA B6. The car refused to start after the driver changeover, and Martin lost more than 20 seconds in the pits, resulting in a frustrating P18 finish. Next to suffer misfortune were championship third-placed Sebastian Asch (26, Ammerbuch) and Maximilian Gtz (26, Uffenheim / kfzteile24 MS RACING Team) in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Gtz, who had been cruising in second place, had to park the black Gullwing car after sustaining a puncture with six laps to go. The dramas affecting the title contenders seemed to be playing into the hands of championship second-placed Christian Engelhart (25, Ksching) who, leading the race from pole with co-driver Sean Edwards (25, GB / Team Geyer & Weinig EDV - Schtz Motorsport), had an excellent chance of forcing an early decision in the title chase. But, with just five laps to go, Edwards also had a puncture, leaving the Porsche duo without any points at all. Claudia Hrtgen and Dominik Schwager were the beneficiaries of the leading Porsche's misfortune; the BMW duo were close behind the leader, and once Edwards had pulled into the pits to change tyres, the way was clear for Hrtgen and Schwager to record their first win of the season. "I tried to conserve the tyres from the start because it was obvious they might cause problems toward the end of the race," said Hrtgen after notching up her third ADAC GT Masters win. "I did my best to avoid the kerbs, and that was the key to our success." "I was pressing very hard near the end of the race, but it was proving impossible to overtake the Porsche," said Schwager after the race. "We've been beaten a few times this season without showing our full potential and have also had quite a bit of bad luck, but this win and the points will do the team a lot of good."

The last lap at Hockenheim was also a turbulent affair. Martin Ragginger (24, Austria / FACH AUTO TECH), in fourth place, came to a near standstill on the last lap in his Porsche 911 after running out of fuel, while fifth-placed Heinz-Harald Frentzen (45, Neuss / Callaway Competition) was plagued with technical problems on the final straight, but both of them managed to stagger over the line in P6 and P8 respectively. Dominik Baumann (19, Austria) and Harald Proczyk (36, Austria / HEICO MOTORSPORT) as well as Lance David Arnold (26, Duisburg) and Alexandros Margaritis (28, Cologne / SCHNER WOHNEN Polarweiss Team HEICO) took advantage of Ragginger's fuel shortage to finish fourth and fifth respectively in their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGs. Simon Knap (23/ NL) and Jeroen den Boer (25 / DB Motorsport) finished seventh in their BMW Z4, Edward Sandstrm (33, Sweden) and Christopher Mies (23, Heiligenhaus / Prosperia uhc speed) in an Audi R8 and the partnership of Fredy Barth (32, Switzerland) and Philipp Eng (22, Austria / MRS GT-Racing) in a McLaren MP4-12C completed the Top Ten. Dolenc wraps up amateur title in home race A sixth-place overall finish with partner Martin Ragginger was sufficient for Swen Dolenc to secure the amateur championship ahead of time after his sole remaining challenger Kristian Poulsen (36, Denmark / Young Driver AMR) driving an Aston Martin was forced to retire. "I'm absolutely delighted," said a jubilant Dolenc. "Winning the title today feels like a load has been lifted from my shoulders. I'm normally a pretty cool customer, but I had a bit of a restless night leading up to today's race." Title decision must wait until today After Saturday's results, the seven title contenders go into Sunday without any change at all to the overall situation. Championship leaders Alessi/Keilwitz (Corvette) contest the final race seven points ahead of Engelhart (Porsche). Asch/Gtz (Mercedes-Benz) are next in line, just two points behind. Lunardi/Martin (BMW ALPINA) also still have a mathematical chance of taking the title, but have to overcome an 18-point deficit. Gtz has a slight advantage in the title race, starting his challenge for the last 60 minutes' racing of the 2012 season from the front row alongside pole-sitter Martin Ragginger. Maximilian Buhk (19, Dassendorf / HEICO Junior Team) in a Mercedes-Benz and Nicolas Armindo in a Porsche start from the second row. Championship leader Keilwitz lines up sixth.