Schubert Motorsport start new season with a masterly performance: ADAC GT Masters podium for BMW M6 GT3 crew in home race
The opening round of the 2021 ADAC GT Masters at Motorsport Arena Oschersleben last weekend had a pleasant surprise in store for Schubert Motorsport, as Nick Yelloly and Jesse Krohn in the BMW M6 GT3 delivered a sensational podium in the team’s home race. The two BMW factory drivers excelled in the highly challenging conditions, finishing fourth on Saturday and as runners-up on Sunday. The duo emerge from the first weekend of the new season occupying second place in the series which has this year been elevated to the status of International German GT Championship. Schubert Motorsport are likewise second in the team standings.
In the ADAC GT4 Germany support series, also staged at the circuit near Magdeburg, the Schubert contingent in a BMW M4 GT4 got their campaign off to a respectable start. Despite two challenging races, Marcel Lenerz and Michael von Zabiensky showed the potential of the package to good effect against strong competition in this fiercely contested series. In a field of 23 GT4 cars on Saturday, they opened their points-scoring account. In the second race, a collision robbed the duo of an even more creditable result.
Podium for BMW M6 GT3: Nick Yelloly and Jesse Krohn in scintillating form despite wet weather lottery
In the build-up to the weekend, the BMW M6 GT3 crew steadily improved over the free practice sessions on the 3.66km circuit. After finishing FP2 as eleventh fastest, Yelloly took the wheel on Saturday morning for the first of the two qualifyings. In a chaotic and frequently interrupted session, the Englishman booked a solid starting position for the first race as seventh in a field of 27 GT3 cars. Yelloly got off to a cracking start, immediately getting past two opponents. As the first stint progressed, he worked his way up to fourth place, mastering a brief rain shower along the way.
After a smooth driver change, Krohn was safely ensconced in fourth when the deployment of the safety car phase eroded the comfortable buffer he had established over the pursuing pack. In the second half of the race, the Finn was in contention for the final spot on the podium while having to defend himself against multiple challenges. His task was made more difficult by an injury to his left hand sustained before the event, but he was determined not to let a top result in Schubert Motorsport’s home race slip away. At the end of the one-hour race, he eventually crossed the finish line in fourth place.
This top result in the season opener was to be just a foretaste of an even more successful Sunday. In qualifying, Krohn booked 13th on the grid and put the BMW M6 GT3 in the frame for another points finish. A downpour as the drivers lined up for the second race made for tricky conditions on the grid, but the 31-year-old kept his cool and laid the foundations for a strategic masterstroke. The team took full advantage of the field being neutralised by a safety car during the pit stop window to switch to slicks for the now drying track. Yelloly then excelled in the lottery that resulted from the changeable weather. He pulled out all the stops in the second stint, progressing from 14th position to second place and securing a podium for the team.
Nick Yelloly: “This has been a really special weekend. We weren’t expecting to be battling it out with the front-runners here. If someone had offered me two Top Ten results before the weekend, I would have settled for that. The team has really done everything right over the past few months, our strategy on Sunday being a prime example. Jesse drove a magnificent stint, and I then made superb progress through the field on the slicks. On Saturday, we had a good quali and an even better start. Fourth and second in the opener are really cool. I’m happy that the team had such a good outcome to their home race. We aim to build on that at Spielberg, where we have a track that suits the BMW far better. We have to make sure we get the maximum out of the weekend.”
Jesse Krohn: “I’m really happy for the team. To have such a good weekend in our home race – with the workshop just around the corner and the whole team on site – that’s really nice. We really hadn’t been expecting this. The team has worked hard all winter, but let’s face it, the Oschersleben circuit doesn’t suit our car. The fact that we still managed to do so well is testimony to the fantastic job done by everyone at Schubert Motorsport. We will obviously be celebrating this success, but afterwards, we have to get back to work. We have to keep pushing now, because Austria presents us with a good chance of achieving further top results. I will work with my physio to make sure we get my hand injury sorted out by then.”
Solid debut with the BMW M4 GT4: Marcel Lenerz and Michael von Zabiensky in the points
After finishing both ADAC GT4 Germany practice sessions fifth on the timesheets, von Zabiensky took responsibility for the first qualifying session on Saturday. The 20-year-old son of company founder Torsten Schubert qualified 18th on the grid in his first competitive outing at the wheel of the BMW M4 GT4. In the race itself, he produced a faultless first stint, retaining his position in the midfield and handing over to Lenerz in 17th. The newcomer from Bad Hersfeld staged a remarkable fightback in the second half of the one-hour race, gradually working his way up to eleventh place as the rain set in. Only a late safety car stopped him making a breakthrough into the Top Ten.
In the second qualifying session on Sunday, Lenerz was once again on top form, booking eighth place on the grid for the number 10 BMW M4 GT4. The 23-year-old continued his forward momentum from the previous day in the second race, working his way up to fifth during the course of his stint. When he handed over to von Zabiensky, however, things did not go according to plan for the local favourite from Oschersleben. Contact with an opponent in a scrap for position sent him into a spin. Although he was able to free the car from the gravel, the upshot was that he eventually had to content himself with 16th place at the finish.
Marcel Lenerz: “We had good pace in the practice sessions and kept improving the setup, so we were on level pegging with the opposition right from the start. In Saturday’s race, I gained several positions, and the performance was very good. In qualifying for the second race, we could definitely have done better than eighth if we’d had less traffic, and I think I proved that later in the race. Michael then defended strongly after the driver change. He was under enormous pressure and did well until that unfortunate collision. But these things happen – it was one of those racing incidents. It’s a shame about the result, but we can still be satisfied. As we gain more experience, things will start to look up for us. Anyway, I’m certainly looking forward to the Red Bull Ring.”
Michael von Zabiensky: “I quickly realised how high the standard of performance is in the ADAC GT4 Germany. As a rookie, I had to up my game considerably. I was happy with my lap time in qualifying, but the drivers at the front were really going flat out. Fortunately, I have a team-mate in Marcel from whom I can learn a lot. He has reached a very high level, which is why our strategy revolved around his stints. On Saturday, it worked out well, and we were happy with the points. In the second race, Marcel did a superb job yet again. Unfortunately, I misjudged a situation while defending, which cost us a decent result. I’m sorry for the team, but we’re looking ahead and I’ll do better next time.”
Team principal André Schubert: “I am incredibly proud of the whole team after this weekend. We knew it wouldn’t be easy for us at Oschersleben. The result on Saturday was already a huge success, and the second race was just sensational. It was an incredible team performance. The guys on the pit wall made the right decision to switch to slicks, and Nick executed the strategy perfectly after Jesse battled through his injury. To finish on the podium in the BMW M6 GT3 in our home race was a fabulous feeling. We hope to carry this momentum over to the Red Bull Ring in the ADAC GT Masters. The same goes for the ADAC GT4 Germany. Our debut there didn’t go perfectly, but we showed our potential and want to build on what we’ve learnt so that we can take the next step forward.”