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Intercontinental GT Challenge

Winkelhock Not Focusing on IGTC Title Battle

Markus Winkelhock not looking at IGTC championships, expects drivers’ title to be difficult…

Photo: Audi

Markus Winkelhock says his focus in Sunday’s California 8 Hours will be on the race itself rather than the Intercontinental GT Challenge title battles.

Winkelhock and fellow Audi driver Christopher Haase currently sit 18 points adrift of the points leaders, and with 25 points available for a win, it will be a tall order for him to defend his IGTC drivers’ title.

Tristan Vautier and Raffaele Maricello lead the standings but will be in different Mercedes-AMG GT3s for the first time this season, doubling the amount of cars that Winkelhock or Haase would have to beat.

As a result, the German says he isn’t too focused on the points standings, and will take a wait-and-see approach.

“I don’t calculate so much, I hope for a good race,” Winkelhock told Sportscar365. “We’re going to fight until the end and then at the end of the race we will see where we are.

“I don’t think about the championship, to be honest. If I think about the championship, I will f*** it up anyway, so I get in the car and do my best!”

Winkelhock admits that the chances for a second drivers’ title are slim, effectively requiring the SunEnergy1 Racing and Strakka Racing Mercedes of Vautier and Marciello to retire.

“If there’s a chance to win the championship, we will go for it,” Winkelhock said. “Theoretically, it’s possible, but it’s going to be very difficult if you’re realistic.

“We are 18 points behind so the Mercedes must have a DNF, otherwise it’s almost impossible, and we have to have a win. It’s theoretically possible and we never stop fighting, that’s why we’re here.

“We’ll give 100 percent and after eight hours, we’ll know where we are.

Despite the drivers’ title looking set to go the way of a Mercedes pilot, the manufacturers’ championship is still all to play for with Audi on 95 points to Mercedes’ 104.

It comes after a points haul by Mercedes in the Suzuka 10 Hours, which saw it claim a 1-2 sweep and maximum points.

The points standings, at least on the drivers’ side, could have looked significantly different, had it not been for a mechanical issue for Winkelhock in February’s season-opening Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

“It’s a shame that I didn’t finish the race in Bathurst because I was leading the race and our driveshaft broke,” Winkelhock said. “It’s a pity because we lost 25 points which are missing now.”

Despite he and Haase being split between different teams, with Winkelhock at WRT and Haase in the Land Motorsport-run car, he says there isn’t much rivalry between the pair.

“The fight between Christopher and me, it was the same last year,” he explained. Last year, I won it, so if he can win it this year it would be fine with me.

“We’re both fighting for it but if he wins, I’m happy for him, and if I win, I’m pretty sure he’s happy for me.”

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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