• Rick Bouthoorn and Leo Pichler on the podium twice at the GTC season opener
  • One win and one second place in the two sprint races at Oschersleben
  • Mixed emotions at the third ADAC GT4 Germany weekend at Zandvoort

Following the two successful race weekends of the ADAC GT4 Germany in Oscherselben and at the Red Bull Ring, the factory-supported team "razoon - more than racing" also kicked off the 2021 season at the GTC Race on July 2. Once again, the venue for the opening races was the 3.67-kilometer circuit in the Magdeburger Börde region. On each of the five varied motorsport weekends, the ADAC's mass sports series consists of two 30 minute sprint races and the Goodyear 60 - an endurance race with a mandatory pit stop lasting 60 minutes. In the latter race, two drivers share the cockpit. The GTC race sees GT4 and GT3 specification cars compete in seven different classes. The winner among the young drivers of the newly created GT4 lineup receives a free GT3 cockpit for the following year.

An opportunity that 16-year-old Dutchman Rick Bouthoorn and Austrian Leo Pichler, three years Bouthoorn's senior, did not want to miss. Pichler usually lines up to battle on the track alongside the young German driver Leon Wassertheurer in the ADAC GT4 Germany. The machine is the same here as there, an X-BOW GT4 from the Austrian small series manufacturer KTM with up to 340 hp - depending on the BoP. On Friday, the two young drivers had already succeeded in securing a good starting position for Saturday's race with third place overall in qualifying for the Goodyear 60. Leo Pichler was just 0.56 seconds behind Denis Bulatov, the fastest driver in qualifying. The race on Saturday also began promisingly: Starting driver Leo Pichler drove a strong first half of the race and handed over the car to Rick Bouthoorn in second place. The young Dutchman briefly stalled the engine and lost seven seconds in the pits, but after a brilliant recovery drive from third place he was only 1.5 seconds behind the two leaders shortly before the end of the race. But Bouthoorn's final push came to an abrupt end in the gravel trap through no fault of his own after the eye of the right rear wishbone was broken.

Confident in his own strength, Rick Bouthoorn moved forward from this disappointment on Sunday as he entered his first sprint race. The Dutch teenager put Denis Bulatov in the Mercedes AMG under pressure right from the start. However, Bulatov withstood the onslaught well and drove a faultless race. Bouthoorn was nevertheless highly satisfied with second place in his first sprint race: "It's a really good starting point for my ultimate target: overall victory in the championship and the GT3 cockpit."

Leo Pichler fared even better. The young Austrian went into his first GTC sprint race in pole position. Porsche racer Luca Arnold delivered an outstanding start on the asphalt and temporarily took the lead from Pichler. But by the second lap the 19-year-old had already seized the momentum back with a spirited overtaking maneuver and passed Arnold. He then pulled around five seconds clear of the chasing pack and maintained this strong lead until crossing the finish line. With his victory, Pichler has put himself in an excellent position for the upcoming races: "I'm already really looking forward to my next outing in the KTM X-BOW GT4!"

This race was scheduled for the following weekend in Zandvoort as part of the ADAC GT4 Germany. "Unlike at the Red Bull Ring with its three long straights, where we don't really stand a chance due to the slower top speed, the challenging track in North Holland with its numerous corners suits us better," said team boss Dominik Olbert to summarize before the start of the event. “Unfortunately, we had to skip the test day because the dates clashed with the GTC. But our guys are fast and they'll get the job done!”

Pichler and Wassertheurer certainly made their presence felt in the free practice sessions. With a gap of just four tenths of a second to BMW racers Piana/Schrey - generally the fastest on the grid - 19-year-old German Leon Wassertheurer was able to claim seventh place in the standings and a fastest time in the second sector during the second free practice session; expectations for race day were therefore running high. This time, the task of qualifying fell to Leo Pichler. Although the Austrian was just a few tenths of a second off the theoretical best time, the razoon more than racing team started the race from seventh on the grid. After an outstanding first lap, in which Pichler gained a place to move up into sixth, the KTM X-BOW landed in the gravel due to an unwelcome front end knock by Allied Racing Porsche racer Wiskirchen. Pichler was able to free himself from the gravel under his own steam, but the young driver - somewhat overzealous after losing his place - then collided with the McLaren of Dörr Motorsport. The impetuous maneuver not only resulted in the team retiring, but also caused the stewards to issue a five-place grid penalty for the second race on Sunday.

Bearing this handicap, Leon Wassertheurer headed out on track to deliver some fast times on Sunday morning, but fell short of his own expectations with a rather disappointing 15th place. Due to the penalty issued the previous day, it was now a case of starting at the back of the field. In a turbulent race that included one red flag and two lengthy periods behind the safety car, the young drivers made up eight places and limited the damage by finishing 12th: “In terms of pace, we could have been among the front runners. Unfortunately, we never got it right this weekend. However, I'm really pleased with the speed and performance in the second race,” summed up razoon boss Olbert. “I'm sure we'll enjoy success in the upcoming races at the Nürburgring (August 6 to 8) and Sachsenring (October 1 to 3), where we'll be racing right at the front.”