Outsmarting one of the world’s acclaimed best GT3 drivers must be a satisfying feeling. Fabian Schiller did the unbelievable in Saturday’s race at the ADAC GT Masters at the Sachsenring: he lured Raffaele Marciello into a trap in the first corner. The result of a detailed plan developed by the ZVO team.
“We had a clear strategy and it was: We have to be aggressive in the first lap because we’re the ones who have to catch up,” says the 25-year-old. Specifically, the plan was to start with high tire pressures in order to have a lot of grip early on. The strategy worked perfectly.
Schiller added to “Motorsport-Total.com”: “My goal was to bring the tires up to temperature as effectively as possible on the warm-up lap. We put a lot of work into that in advance.” This, combined with the increased air pressure from the start, should give it the grip it needs for Turn 1.
And something else helped him: “It was clear to me from the start that I would brake around the outside of turn 1. It’s very slippery in the braking zone for turn 1 right next to the ideal line, which has relatively little grip. So I would brake there where the grip is. If he braked in the same place as me, he wouldn’t get the corner.”
And that’s how it happened. Marciello braked on the inside, but slipped past the apex in the ABS, the gap was there. The Italo-Swiss can only admit to “Motorsport-Total.com”: “I didn’t really brake late. But I was surprised at how much less grip I had compared to Fabi.” He didn’t know about the air pressure situation then.
Of course, there was the downside of the increased air pressure during the first stint for Schiller: “In the first two laps we had a lot of grip, we were fast there. Lello then put the pressure on at the back. He was really fast, but it is It’s hard to overtake at this track, so we held our ground.”
Gounon ‘a bit stupid’ at driver change
ZVO resisted the temptation to come in early to deflate the tire. Because the second driver drives his first laps of the day after the pit stop, that would probably have washed the “Mamba” to the top. But Marciello stopped first and handed over to Daniel Juncadella, who had to get used to it first.
Jules Gounon came out ahead of Juncadella and just had to convert. The big question was how his vertebrae, which were still in the healing phase, would behave. Gounon got into the car, his face contorted with pain.
“I was a bit stupid then,” he says. “I just got in too stormy. We have a lot of time for the stop here.” The pit lane is relatively short, leaving plenty of time for the driver change within the pit time. But after that I didn’t feel my back at all. I just had to look at the distance and finish the race.”
Gounon is known to be a big fan of the Sachsenring. In Juncadella he has now found another fan comrade-in-arms. The ex-DTM driver rode the first roller coaster and was impressed: “That was fun. The second sector in particular with all the high-speed corners is really fun. We are racing drivers, we like fast corners.”
“The sector is very interesting. You have to do a lot of fine-tuning. At the beginning of my stint I was a little lost. Then I got into a rhythm and had a good feeling. That’s good for tomorrow.”
With the victory, ZVO Racing caught up four points on Landgraf on Saturday, taking into account the qualifying points. Of course that’s not enough at 33 points behind. “Basically, anything can still happen; you never know what’s coming. We still have three races, one of them tomorrow and then two in Hockenheim. We’ll continue to do everything we can,” promises Schiller.
And Marciello also knows that he’s far from over the mountain: “There are still 75 points plus qualifying points on the table. If we finish in the top 5 tomorrow, that would be nice points. We have to keep attacking.” Gounon is the favorite for pole on Sunday.