Disappointing weekend for SPS automotive performance at the Hungaroring

It was a weekend of highs and lows for the SPS automotive performance team at round four of this season’s International GT Open at the Hungaroring. After an impressive fightback from Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler (both SUI) in an eventful first race, the Swiss duo in the #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 finished outside the points in race two. Guest starters Valentin Pierburg (GER) and Dominik Baumann (AUT) also failed to finish in the points, despite performing strongly.

Dexter Müller, at the wheel of the black and red #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3, made up a few positions on the opening laps of race one. Starting from eleventh in the PROAM class, the Switzerland initially found himself ninth. However, the first safety car phase of the 70-minute race put a temporary stop to the number 54 car’s fightback. As soon as the racing resumed, Yannick Mettler took his place at the wheel. This well-timed pit stop allowed the team to gain another two positions, before another safety car phase neutralised the race again. Only seven minutes of the race remained when the drivers were released again. Mettler launched a brilliant final sprint to climb into fourth place, and was even able to put the third-placed car under pressure on the final lap. However, he ultimately missed out on the final spot on the podium by just 0.2 seconds. Dominik Baumann was at the wheel of the #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the start of race one. He initially stayed clear of any trouble in the early stages, but was still able to maintain third place in the PROAM class. The tight layout of the Hungaroring did not allow Baumann to launch a successful attack on his rivals, and the first safety car phase brought the battle at the front of the PROAM class to a temporary end. After the restart, Baumann handed the black Mercedes-AMG GT3 to his team-mate Valentin Pierburg. Shortly after taking over in the driver’s seat of the number 20 car, Pierburg found himself in the second safety car phase. After the second restart, the guest starter was unable to hold off his pursuers, who are competing in the championship, and eventually crossed the finish line in seventh place in the PROAM class.

In Sunday’s second race, this time over 60 minutes, Mettler lined up in second place in the PROAM class in the #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3. Mettler held off his rivals to successfully defend second place for the duration of his stint. His team-mate Müller was initially able to hang onto the lead after the driver changeover, but was then unable to fend off the chasing pack, who now had their stronger Pro drivers at the wheel. The #54 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was ultimately waved home in seventh place in the PROAM class. In the #20 car, Pierburg started the final race from tenth place in his class. Pierburg again took it easier at first in race two. He then accidentally collided with a rival during a failed overtaking manoeuvre, for which the #20 car was handed a ten-second time penalty. After the mandatory pit stop, team-mate Baumann tried to retrieve the time lost. Despite some fast lap times, among the best of the entire field, the Austrian was involved in many battles for position, which prevented him from making the progress he was hoping for. The #20 Mercedes-AMG GT3 eventually came home ninth in the PROAM class.

Dexter Müller and Yannick Mettler now lie fourth in the PROAM table. The Swiss duo still has a good chance of having a say in the title race when the racing resumes after the summer break.

The Willsbach-based team heads to Belgium on the last weekend in July, where Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps will host the highlight of the season – the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa.

Stephan Sohn, team principal SPS automotive performance: “We were obviously hoping for a different result from this weekend. We will now analyse the weekend and see what we might be able to improve. I am very confident that we will come back stronger at the Red Bull Ring after the summer break. Before then, however, we are looking forward to the 24 Hours of Spa.”