Everybody involved in sportscar racing has been affected by scheduling conflicts at one point or another, but few are ever confronted by a dilemma greater than that facing Christopher Mies this weekend.
One of the busiest racers on Audi’s customer pool, with commitments in the Blancpain GT Series, ADAC GT Masters and Australian GT Championship – where he is the defending champion – the German finds himself leading both the Blancpain Sprint Cup and GT Masters with a round to go in each. But an unavoidable clash between the two series deciders has put Mies into an awkward predicament.
With a heavy heart, the 27-year-old will have to hope that his Sprint Cup stand-in Robin Frijns can help Enzo Ide defend his 17-point buffer over the HTP Mercedes of Dominik Baumann and Maxi Buhk in Catalunya, whilst Mies and team-mate Connor de Phillippi prepare for a winner-takes-all grudge match at Hockenheim with the Callaway Corvette of Daniel Keilwitz and Jules Gounon.
“In the end it was a common decision, Audi asked me what I wanted to do but to be honest I didn’t want to decide it because I will upset one team,” he told Racing.GT. “For sure I told them my preferences, but in the end I’m a works driver, so Audi pay my bills and they decide where I’m going. It’s not an ideal situation, but we knew that right from the beginning.
“Nobody expected to lead Blancpain with such a big gap but that’s how the situation is. So long as Enzo wins the championship then I’m happy, although I won’t lie, it will hurt to see Enzo there on top spot when you know you have fought all season with him – but that’s how the game is.”
— Connor De Phillippi (@CDePhillippi) September 28, 2016
However, Mies knows that he will have to put his disappointments to bed and focus his attentions on the immediate task in hand. The long straights at Hockenheim are widely expected to favour the throaty Corvette – second only to the Porsche in the number of GT Masters wins this year – but the points leader has every confidence in the Land Motorsport team’s ability to consistently churn out results with an unfavourable Balance of Performance.
“Corvette will be good there so there will be a lot of pressure on us,” said Mies. “But first of all they have to make up two points, which sounds easy, but so many things can happen, especially in Hockenheim with the hairpin where always crashes happen. We just have to do our best, do a good job as always and see where we end up.”
Mies also reserved special praise for the development of California’s de Phillippi in his first season of GT3 racing. The pair’s only win of the season at the Nürburgring came after the former Porsche junior made finely-judged passes on David Jahn and the race-leading Audi of Florian Stoll, which Mies believes is evidence of de Phillippi’s suitability for a factory role in future.
“He’s brave enough to wait for the right opportunity and as soon as he knows he can do it, he takes it,” Mies continued. “Connor is still learning a lot about setting up the car and making proper decisions on the setup, but that’s a normal process we all went through. He’s doing super-quick laps, he definitely has the speed of a works driver and I would say he is nearly ready to be one next year.”