Monday, October 9, 2017

ADAC GT Masters 17: Season review

YACO Racing, the sympathetic underdog from Plauen in Germany, has made a name for itself in the ADAC GT Masters in the last few years. Successes such as at the Hockenheimring 2015 or in Zandvoort 2016 are the best proof that one should never underestimate the Saxon Audi. Whoever made this mistake, found itself very quickly behind the green Audi of Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey.

To continue with this development, there was also a clear aim for the 2017 season: get through the races without failing and finish in the points every time. The first part of the plan was a success as there was the result DNF (Did Not Finish) only twice – in 2016, YACO Racing had to finish a race early four times. Regarding the points, it looks less convincing. Philip Geipel summarized: "After a decent start to the season, things moved steadily forward. Both the Lausitzring and the Red Bullring gave us points, which made our confidence grow. Then there was the valley of tears ..." A retrospective:

Motorsport Arena Oschersleben / Germany (04/28 – 04/30/2017) – Place 25 / Place 16

YACO Racing did not have much time to prepare for the opening weekend in Oschersleben. It was therefore not surprising that some difficulties arose during the first qualifying. The team achieved only 21st place, which made it difficult to reach the points. From such a position, the team had often started and had shown a fast-paced catch-up thanks to the incomparable fighting spirit, but this time it was not possible. A risky overtaking maneuver ending in the gravel pit and a transit penalty – a wrong decision of the race management – cost so much time that it was an only 25th place. In the evening, the mechanics could fix a mistake, which gave rise to optimism on the next day. In race two, the Audi worked so well that Rahel Frey started a convincing catch-up. Unfortunately, there was a small crash and a further transit penalty, so YACO Racing ended up in 16th place. The two riders said: "This was not a typical ADAC GT Masters start, but we learned a lot over the weekend and gathered many important experiences."

Lausitzring / Germany (05/19 – 05/21/2017) – Place 11 / Place 9

YACO Racing has finally broken the "Curse of the Lausitzring" in 2017. While the team had experienced serious setbacks over the past few years, Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey have been successful this season. Already in the first race, the points got within reach thanks to 15th place achieved in qualifying. However, the green Audi was pushed from the track early and sent to the back of the driver's field. From there, however, he kept fighting forward until he finally reached position 11. It is difficult to imagine what would have been possible without the setback in round one. Day two of the “motorsports festival” at the Lausitzring started with place 20 in qualifying. From there, YACO Racing was able to get steadily forward, avoiding all the struggles on the track. At the end of the race, the team reached the top ten, earning the first points in the ADAC GT Masters 2017. Rahel Frey said: "What a joy! Place 9 in the hard Sunday race is a great achievement! Many thanks for the emotional motorsports moments in the Lausitz!"

Red Bull Ring / Austria (06/09 – 06/11/2017) – Place 10 / Place 13

As expected, it was not easy for Audi with number #50 on the Red Bull Ring. "From the past few years we already knew that the long straights in connection with the height differences are rather bad for our car", explained Philip Geipel. That is why the race on the first day started with an only 20th place. From there, YACO Racing was able to get steadily forward and finally crossed the finish line in 10th place. On the first day of the race, the team fulfilled the wish for further points. On Sunday, YACO Racing started from place 20. In the race, there were, unfortunately, fewer possibilities to get forward, so Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey did not reach the top ten this time. In the end, it was 13th place.

Circuit Park Zandvoort / Netherlands (07/21 – 07/23/2017) – DNF / Place 19

With a hard-earned 13th place in qualifying, YACO Racing started in Zandvoort near the points with many expectations. However, already in round one, the anticipation came to an early end, because the green Audi got into a crash. "Unfortunately, the crash damaged the suspension in turn seven – very annoying, but that's racing", said Uwe Geipel, Team Leader of YACO Racing. Until late in the night, the mechanics then worked on the damage to make the Audi fit for the next race. After the project succeeded, the second race day was supposed to be different. In qualifying, YACO Racing was "only" 14th but remained highly motivated. Thus, despite the adverse weather conditions, Rahel Frey and Philip Geipel managed to cross the finish line in sixth place. The joy of it, however, was not permanent. "Zandvoort was not good to us in 2017. First the crash on day one and then we were punished with +30 seconds in the second race because of a touch with another car under yellow. So again no points, we remain unlucky ...", Uwe Geipel summarized the weekend.

Nürburgring / Germany (08/04 – 08/06/2017) - Place 16 / Place 14th

The weekend in the Eifel was a very special one for Philip Geipel: "In my first season of the league of super sports cars in 2011 I achieved a second place at the Nürburgring. In 2015, I took the first podium for YACO Racing. Now, my 100th ADAC GT Masters race took place here." The anniversary, however, did not bring any luck to our sympathetic driver from Plauen. Already on Saturday, the team only started from place 22. In lap 1, Philip Geipel had to evade several vehicles, which moved him completely to the end of the field. By an almost incredible catch-up and a driver change in record time the green Audi finally reached place 16 – a performance, the team was content with despite all problems. Day two at the Nürburgring unfortunately also started with only the 18th position in qualifying. In the end, YACO Racing finished 14th. "Unfortunately, we had to leave the Eifel without points, but defeats make us only stronger as a team!", Rahel Frey summarized the weekend at the Nürburgring.

Sachsenring / Germany (09/15 – 09/17/2017) – DNF / Place 19

The home race of YACO Racing started very promisingly because from the free practice to the qualifying the lap times improved considerably. Philip Geipel started only from place 19, but could quickly place near the points. At this position, Rahel Frey took over the green Audi but had to give up shortly after the change due to a defect at the diffuser. Uwe Geipel, Team Leader, explains: "Driving with a faulty diffuser is roughly the same as driving a car with good tires at the front and shopping cart wheels at the rear – impossible!" However, the damage could be repaired already on Saturday. The qualifying session on Sunday ended a little better than on the day before. This position led to hopes that Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey might repeat the second place of 2016. Unfortunately, there was no luck. The team received a drive-through penalty, which prevented further points. "Unfortunately, we were unable to beat our competitors at our home race. It was a shame, but we fought extremely hard at any time. Who knows us, knows very well that we will not give up!", Rahel Frey announced after the Sachsenring.

Hockenheimring / Germany (09/22 – 09/24/2017) - Place 15 / Place 16

The Saturday started on the Hockenheimring with a promising place 13 in qualifying. In the race, however, Rahel Frey was hit on the rear wheel, which had a negative effect on the steering behavior. In addition, she fought extremely hard on the track, which meant that the tires suffered very much. After the change of driver, Philip Geipel had hardly any opportunities to get forward. In the end, it was only 15th place – not a good start for the final weekend. The fighting spirit, however, remained unbroken. On Sunday, the team started from place 22, from where it advanced to the 16th place. However, the top ten could not be reached. "Actually, we really wanted to return to the points, but it just was not possible – what a pity", commented Philip Geipel.

Final results of the ADAC GT Masters 2017:

  • Philip Geipel / Rahel Frey: Place 36
  • YACO Racing: Place 15

In summary, Uwe Geipel, Team Leader of YACO Racing, says: "We never had something like this in our previous history at the ADAC GT Masters. We gave absolutely everything in every race, but somehow we just had no luck. Now we can just look forward. We will keep our heads up and we will attack again in 2018!"

As an official sponsor, the bluechemGROUP thanks YACO Racing, Philip Geipel and Rahel Frey for the season and wishes all the best for the future!