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Good experience for Verdonck on his Audi debut at ADAC GT Masters finale

The ADAC GT Masters championship came to a close last weekend with an epic race full of accidents and drama. 

 

While other cars, including the title contenders, were involved in crashes or blighted by mechanical failures, Nico Verdonck and his Belgian team mate Enzo Ide fought their way up strongly, after a tough qualifying with the #49 Audi R8GT3 of Phoenix Racing.

A last minute call from Phoenix Racing beginning of last week, if Nico Verdonck was available to support Enzo Ide at the final ADAC GT Masters round in Hockenheim. "Since 2008 I know Phoenix Racing when they competed successfully in Belcar Championship and always stayed in touch and kept a good relationship with the team."  However Nico knew the circuit and series, it was the young Belgian’s debute on the Audi R8.

"During practices I could feel that I needed to adapt to the R8 is which is a car, that mainly through a particular rear end of the car, you have to anticipate the weight transfer, which I haven’t experienced before and explains why I wasn’t able to exploit the full potential of the car during Qualifying, combined with Enzo getting familiar with this new circuit for him, we would start the races from P25 & P24."

For Race 1, it was my teammate Enzo, who took the start and a gentlemen driver on a Corvette drove against him before Turn 1 and he was forced into the wall causing a redflag situation. Due to this big incident the race was shortened but it didn’t stop Enzo to bring car up to P19 when he handed over the wheel to Nico, who continued the progress to finish P17.

As a result of the incident in Race 1, we were handed a 5place grid penalty for race 2. Nico starting completely last. Yet again the 60 minute sprint race delivered incident and intrigue. Right from the start - one of them unfortunately involving the #49 Audi. Nico had jumped four positions from his starting slot but on only the third lap he was punted into a spin by the #17 Corvette on the middle of the hairpin. "Going into the hairpin I was taking my normal line and then another car just came into the side of me and spun me round," the Belgian said after the race. "It seemed like he came out of nowhere and I couldn't do anything to avoid it. From that point it was about getting back into position. By the end of my stint I was battling my way back up and improving consistently my laptimes, with only 0.3sec from the fastest Audi driver. Although the spin cost us a possible top 10, I enjoyed it out there - with less weight on the car we were able to push more."

"My aim this weekend was to get quickly up to speed, support Phoenix Racing and achieve a good performance with my teammate Enzo Ide, in this highly competitive German GT3 championship'. ‘It was an interesting, learning experience where I learned a lot about the Audi R8, hopefully there may be a continuation, as it was a pleasure working with Enzo, who has once again proved to be a young, competitive driver. I also want to thank Phoenix Racing and Audi-Sport for their confidence and collaboration."