Timo Bernhard and Kevin Estre claimed their first ADAC GT Masters win of the season at the Sachsenring as the championship protagonists all hit trouble.
The Porsche factory duo commanded Saturday’s opening 60-minute contest in their No. 17 KUS Team75 Bernhard Porsche 911 GT3 R after Bernhard claimed pole in the morning.
The two-time Le Mans winner wasn’t able to build a gap on the rest of the field in the opening stint after being constrained by two early safety car periods, but managed to eke ahead in the pit window by coming in a lap earlier than his rivals.
That strategy doubled the Porsche’s 1.5-second lead over the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 once the driver swaps played out.
Estre then carried on to win by 4.822 seconds from the Audi driven by Kelvin van der Linde, while Kim Luis Schramm and Nikolai Sylvest took a solitary third in their Zakspeed Mercedes AMG GT3.
Fourth place went to BMW driver Timo Scheider who held off a spirited challenge from Maximilian Buhk’s Mercedes and Stefan Muecke’s Audi in the closing stages.
Scheider shared duties with Mikkel Jensen who overtook Buhk’s HTP Motorsport team-mate Indy Dontje on the opening lap.
Saturday’s race started in dramatic fashion with the top two cars in the standings being involved in safety car incidents.
The first occurred at the start of lap two when championship leader Markus Pommer was punted into the turn one gravel by an errant Audi that had been pitched off-line by Marvin Kirchhoefer’s No. 1 Callaway Competition Corvette.
Pommer and Maximilian Goetz’s HTP Mercedes was unable to continue, while the third-in-standings Corvette C7 GT3-R retired later on with damage.
Shortly after the restart, Robert Renauer was then forced to park up the Precote Herberth Motorsport Porsche which arrived second in the points.
Renauer was caught out by a slow-moving Kirchhoefer before colliding with a Lamborghini which stopped on-track.
Those incidents gifted an opportunity for GRT Grasser Racing’s Mirko Bortolotti and Andrea Caldarelli to take some ground of the title favorites, but their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 was slapped with two penalties that pushed them out of the points.
Sunday’s second 60-minute race gets underway at 13:05 local time.
RESULTS: Race 1