De Phillippi Crowned 2016 ADAC GT Masters Champion

Two new names have entered the ADAC GT Masters list of champions as the series concludes its tenth anniversary season – Connor De Phillippi (23, USA) and Christopher Mies (27, DEU). In a drama-filled second race on the final weekend at Hockenheim, eighth place for the two Audi drivers from Team Montaplast by Land-Motorsport was enough to secure the ultimate prize.

Unlike so many of the other driver pairings in the Super Sports Car League which have been together for years, De Phillippi and Mies have taken very different career paths. While the German half of the duo was getting his first GT3 experience in the ADAC GT Masters, the American youngster was just about to graduate from karting to junior formula racing. The Skip Barber National Championship, Formula Ford 1600 the Star Mazda Championship – the stages in De Phillippi´s career in the USA will probably strike a chord only with real motorsport aficionados. In 2013, his success was a factor in helping him move overseas with a place on the Porsche programme for juniors. De Phillippi´s route into Europe was assured. He showed that he was ready for higher things by achieving good results in Porsche single-make cups and in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring.

Christopher Mies is a GT3 specialist par excellence. He contested two races in the ADAC GT Masters in 2008 at the age of 19, just one year after the launch of the new sports car category in Germany. In 2009, he then helped team-mate Christian Abt to a title win with guest drives in the Audi R8. In the same year, he also won his first major sports car series, the GT3 European Championship. The following year, Mies completed his first full season in the ADAC GT Masters driving an Audi R8 entered by ABT Sportsline, a team managed by his former co-driver Christian Abt. He narrowly missed out on the title on the final weekend at Oschersleben, finishing the season as championship runner-up. In 2011, Mies came third, having been in championship contention right up to the final weekend. He registered his biggest success in a single race in 2015 when, as a member of a four-man squad and at his first attempt, he secured a win for the second generation Audi R8 in its trialling year in the ADAC Zurich 24-hour race on the Nürburgring.

The arrival of Team Montaplast by Land-Motorsport in the 2016 ADAC GT Masters line-up brought together two characters with completely different backgrounds. The American-German pairing showed that they were in perfect harmony as early as the season opener at Oschersleben. With a dash of youthful exuberance, Connor De Phillippi made an excellent start to GT3 racing by securing pole position for the first race. With his experience, Christopher Mies helped the team get to grips with the new Audi R8. Two further P2 finishes lifted De Phillippi and Mies into the top spot in the championship table. Unfazed by a subsequent lean period and the loss of their lead towards the middle of the season, they continued to diligently rack up the points. A first outright victory of 2016 at the Nürburgring and a strong performance on the penultimate weekend of the campaign at Zandvoort put the two Audi drivers back on top. The crowning glory came at Hockenheim.

Connor De Phillippi is the first driver from the American continent to secure a title win in the ADAC GT Masters. “What a season!” said De Phillippi, who commutes around 9,500 kilometres from his home in San Clemente California to every race weekend. “This is now my fourth year competing in Europe. To have won such a major championship as an American means a lot to me. My thanks to everyone who contributed to this triumph, and I´m delighted for every single member of the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport team.” In addition to the drivers´ championship, Connor De Phillippi has also won the Junior title, a classification introduced this year for contestants under 25 years of age.

Sports car veteran and multi-talent Christopher Mies is equally delighted with his ADAC GT Masters title: “I´ve always wanted to win this series. I narrowly missed out in 2010 and 2011. Now I´ve done it at last. It´s certainly one of my greatest achievements in motorsport. I´m grateful to the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport team.”

Wolfgang Land, Team Principal at Montaplast by Land-Motorsport is full of praise for his protégés: “Christopher Mies and Connor De Phillippi – what can I say? That was the hottest driver combination in the entire field. Christopher is already an old fox on the GT3 scene, while Connor is still a very young driver. Both have been extremely professional in their dealings with our engineers and mechanics. I am very happy for both of them.”

De Phillippi set for 12 Hours of Sebring debut with Stevenson Motorsports

Stevenson Motorsports has confirmed Connor De Phillippi as their third driver for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, as part of a slightly adjusted lineup in its two Audi R8 LMS entries. De Phillippi joins Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell in the team’s No. 6 Audi, which will mark the young American’s first 12-hour start at Sebring. He has past experience at the track from his open-wheel career.

He enjoyed a standout drive at the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, also in one of the new Audis.

“For 2016 I was looking to make a return to more racing in North America, and as my European plans developed I tried to align myself with top teams that would be competing in the new Audi GT3 machinery,” he said.

“Stevenson Motorsports was at the top of my list, and after we made contact it all moved forward from there! The 24 Hours of Dubai was my first time in the Audi, and starting off with such a strong personal performance in completely foreign machinery gives me a great feeling heading into Sebring.”

DE PHILLIPPI SHOWS HEAD TURNING PERFORMANCE AT HANKOOK 24 HOURS OF DUBAI

The 2016 Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai proved to be a career-enhancing weekend for Connor De Phillippi. Throughout the entire 24 hours, the media named De Phillippi the star of the race due to his impressive performance behind the wheel of his Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS.

With 100 cars entered in the event, there was no doubt the competition level would be the toughest in this event’s history. The weekend began as well as can be, with the #28 Land Motorsport Audi starting on the front row in second position. By lap 2, the team had taken over the lead.

At hour four, it was time to shine for De Phillippi in his first driving stint; and that is precisely what he did. After being handed over the car in 3rd position, he sliced his way through traffic and overtook the lead Audi by closing a 13 second gap in just 3 laps. The media room was left speechless after De Phillippi’s stint was finished. He handed over the car with a 49 second lead to his teammate, Carsten Tilke.

“I may not have a lot of endurance racing experience, but working the lapped traffic just seems to come natural to me. Battling for the lead with one of the best GT drivers in the world was quite fun! And to say I came out on top in the battle is very satisfying.”

Unfortunately their luck ran short during the 21st hour of the race when the gearbox temperature began to skyrocket. Which was then shortly followed by a complete loss of drive. After hours of hard battling, the team had to accept defeat and relinquish their second place position.

“At first I had lost fifth and sixth gear. I continued to drive my stint using only the first four gears, but then after about an hour the temperature went extremely high. I radioed to the team and we then decided to come into the pits to see what we could do. As I entered pit lane there was one final clunk, which then led me coasting down pit lane to our box. It was an unfortunate yet graceful way to end our hard fought effort here in Dubai.”

“Even though we did not come out on top, it proves that we have great speed in combination with our new Audi R8 LMS. I cannot thank Land Motorsport, Montaplast, Audi Customer Racing, Justice Brothers, Brett King Design and Vital Ultra for their continued support. I cannot wait to get this 2016 race season underway.”

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