web analytics

February 23, 2019

Thursday Thoughts: Is Audi’s GT Masters BOP anger justified?

Thursday Thoughts: Is Audi’s GT Masters BOP anger justified?
Photo Credit To ADAC GT Masters

BOP is often a topic of debate within GT racing, but the attention it has received in the ADAC GT Masters championship this year has been far above average. Since early in the season, many Audi teams have been complaining that the GT Masters’ BOP, uniquely designed for the series by the German motorsport federation DMSB, is holding them back while favouring brands like Porsche and Corvette. But is Audi’s anger really justified?

The BOP debate in GT Masters has been bubbling under the surface for quite some time, but reared its head at the Red Bull Ring, where the kfzteile24 APR Audi squad adjusted the airbox and were banned from the championship by the DMSB as a result. Car Collection lost its sponsor Audi Sport Amsterdam, because the company felt the results were unsatisfying. Critical voices appeared left, right, and centre on social media, suggesting that GT Masters should switch to the BOP used by the SRO, the organisation behind the Blancpain GT Series. And finally, last week, during a chaotic run up to the GT Masters round in Zandvoort, Car Collection and Phoenix Racing decided to pull their cars off the event’s entry list.

Despite the mounting unrest, the DMSB has remained adamant there’s no need to change its BOP. At first sight this attitude may seem rigid, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily wrong. After all, complaints or no, Audi has come out of the Zandvoort weekend leading both the constructors’ and the drivers’ championship with Christopher Mies and Connor de Philippi. That’s not something you’d expect to see from a brand that’s complaining about being held back by BOP.

So to get to the bottom of the matter, Racing.GT turned to the statistics. Six rounds have been completed so far, during which brands had the possibility to pick up a maximum of 12 victories, 36 podium places, and 120 points-paying positions.

Interestingly, Audi has a good track record in all these three categories. They’ve picked up a whopping 37 points-paying positions – 31% of the total – while Corvette and Porsche, who are said to be favoured by the BOP, picked up less than half that amount with 15% and 13%, respectively.

The Ingolstadt marque also claimed 36% of all podium places, leaving less than two-thirds of the podium spots for the other brands. Of those podium places, 19% went to Porsche and only 17% to Corvette. The one area where Audi lags a little behind its rivals is that of wins – taking only two, while Corvette has claimed three victories and Porsche four.

The above statistics may well be the reason the DMSB is unwilling to change Audi’s BOP and their stance would on the face of it appear justified. Even so, one can wonder if there isn’t more to be gotten from the data. For one thing, shouldn’t the number of cars that each brand enters into the championship be taken into account? For Porsche this number, on average, is three (9.7% of the total average grid), Corvette four (12.9%), and Audi nine (29%).

Taking into account that Audi makes up almost a full third of the GT Masters grid, their 31% of the points-paying positions and 36% of the podium places becomes far less impressive – they’ve simply shown strength by numbers. So how much of Audi’s success remains intact when you look at their relative achievement per car, by dividing their percentage of wins, podium places and points-paying positions by the number of cars entered?

Points-paying positions Podium places Wins
1) Porsche 4.33% per car 1) Porsche 6.33% per car 1) Porsche 11.0% per car
2) Corvette 3.75% per car 2) Corvette 4.25% per car 2) Corvette 6.25% per car
3) Audi 3.40% per car 3) Audi 4.00% per car 3) Audi 1.80% per car

This is the crux of the issue for Audi. In absolute numbers, Audi has its rivals beaten, but in relative percentages per car, the four rings lag far behind the much smaller contingents of Porsches and Corvettes.

The differences are especially striking in the category of wins. Audi is 9.2% behind Porsche, a gap that would almost certainly have been considerably bigger had the changing weather during the second race at Zandvoort not allowed Yaco Racing’s Rahel Frey and Philip Geipel to claim a surprise victory from 17th on the grid. After all, before the heavens opened, Kevin Estre and David Jahn had been leading for Team Bernhard and would very likely have taken a fourth win of the season and a fifth for Porsche had it stayed dry.

Other Audi teams, however, haven’t been so lucky. Car Collection in particular has suffered throughout the season, scoring only four point-finishes with its two cars. Their decision to not compete in Zandvoort therefore doesn’t come completely out of the blue, although Christopher Haase points out the decision wasn’t based on BOP alone.

“The team already told me at the beginning of the season that there’d be two race clashes between the GT Masters and the VLN,” said Haase, who moved across to Land’s second car alongside Frederic Vervisch for Zandvoort. “I think the decision was ultimately made based on our position in the GT Masters championship. We’re not running to win it, so that’s why it made sense to go to the VLN instead.”

Haase’s Car Collection teammate Isaac Tutumlu, who managed a best result of tenth in the opening round at Oschersleben, made his thoughts very clear on Twitter, making reference to Land Motorsport’s extensive backing from title sponsor Montaplast. Connor de Philippi concedes that the testing has helped, but believes there are more factors at play.

“Sponsorship is part and parcel of motorsport these days. You can’t drive a car unless you have a budget or unless you have a sponsor, so we’re very fortunate to have Montaplast backing us, but I wouldn’t say we’re testing crazy amounts and spending crazy money compared to others,” the points leader said.

“When the top fifteen cars are within four tenths of a second and you’re fighting for one tenth to gain seven positions, that one little extra day of testing can make a difference. We did an extra test day at the Red Bull Ring and an extra test in Zandvoort, but that’s two extra test days – it’s not like we keep going on for weeks and weeks.

“That just goes to show how much effort we really put in as a team, I think it says a lot for the engineers and obviously we have one of the best driver lineups as far as Audi teams are concerned.”

With Zandvoort come and gone, the GT Masters only has its final round in Hockenheim left to go and it’s difficult to predict how many Audi teams will be in attendance. It’s possible that Car Collection will return, but so far there’s been no such message from Phoenix and it also remains to be seen if APR will be able to overturn its race ban. One thing’s for sure – the GT Master’s BOP controversy is a long way from being sorted.

About The Author

Sandra Michiels contributes copy to Racing.GT, but is above all a girl who talks racing. She spends many of her weekends on race tracks and too often ends up sitting in the rain. Her childhood heroes are Mika Häkkinen and Piglet from Winnie the Pooh.