VLN2 7 April 2018
Round 2 of the VLN, organised by the DMV, saw 175 cars take to the track during qualifying on a chilly, but sunny, morning.
The top 23 SP9 class teams all within 10 seconds suggested we were in for a hectic race; but it was Manthey to the front, again refusing to play BOP politics.
#911 beat out #912 – but both were below 8:00 (as was the Mercedes #14 of Black Falcon).
Drama on the formation lap as the #48 Mercedes of Christian Hohenadel spun out and nearly hit the barrier while trying to weave heat into the tyres on the Grand Prix circuit; thankfully just wounded pride and the car was able to re-join in position.
A relatively poor start for Patrick Pilet in the #911 Porsche, but recovered by the time they went out onto the Nordschleife.
The leader of the second group (#588 Porsche of Schall/Gerhard) got a fantastic jump and took a lead of three seconds before they had got to Hatzenbach.
On completion of the first lap, we saw the #98 BMW push wide in the Yokohama-S and get past Hohenadel’s Mann Filter Mercedes.
Next time past, the lead was being shared between six cars: Pilet’s Manthey Porsche first across the line followed by Maro Engel (#14), Christian Hohenadel (#48), Romains Dumas (#912) & the two ROWE BMWs.
But an early problem for the #98 BMW saw John Edwards in the garage at the end of lap 2; taking them out of the picture.
Another Early visitor to the pits; the Team75 Porsche of Lotterer & Kern had to bleed the brakes; the car went out for another lap but was soon back in for more attention.
Working lap 3, the leaders were really struggling in traffic, weaving left and right to get past (and not always respecting track limits).
Further down the field, the leading four Cup 5 (BMW M235) cars were giving us great entertainment – but also staying clean; which sadly is more than can be said for everyone as we had to go code 60 in Schwalbenschwanz for five minutes.
Lap 4 saw Dumas bring the #911 Porsche in for a stop – this might have been scheduled, but the car was slightly off the pace during the opening stint.
Just shy of the first hour and we had a code 60 at Kesselchen with a car covered in fire extinguishment – the GPS showing #315 (SP3T Audi TT), #386 (SP2T Peugeot 207) & #810 (TCR Bonk Motorsport Audi RS3) all stationary at the scene of the crime.
This looked like it might take a while to clear, so several of the leading cars came in for fuel; giving #99 BMW a clear path to the lead.
Felipe Laser in the Frikadelli Porsche was noticeably slower than the competition in the opening laps; the exact reason unknown but driving duty was handed over to Marco Seefried along with new tyres and the following stint was much improved.
Some of the less experienced drivers in lower class cars were seen causing problems out by Hatzenbach – ignoring the green flags after a brief slow zone, costing them major time.
Ferraris are not renowned for their fuel economy, but in a repeat of VLN1, the Wochenspiegel Ferrari was able to go longer than anyone – over an hour on their first stint & able to take the lead.
Another car that was able to save fuel in the early laps, was the #30 Porsche of Wolf Henzler – handing over to Alex Müller; the strategy looked to be a wrong call as they were still fighting to get into the top 20, but Müller’s stint was legendary, getting the car up to 12th before passing the baton to Lance David Arnold.
There was next a major incident at Bergwerk involving the #202 rent2drive SP6 Porsche bringing out another code 60. At the same time, the #470 Cayman needed attention over at Eschbach – up to four slow zones at that time as Michael Schrey had also come to a stand at the Karussell.
Next victims were #210 BMW of Martin Kroll which was seen touring slowly & the #36 BMW of Walkenhorst in the garage with a lot of looking but not much doing from the mechanics.
Start of lap 10 and again the Manthey cars had worked to the front, fighting with each other and cutting the pit exit line as Marco Petry was trying to bring his SP5 BMW out to play.
In third, the Black Falcon #14 Mercedes was less than a second behind the Porsches
It definitely wasn’t the cleanest of races today, with 2 ½ hours remaining we got another slow zone – this time over at Wippermann with the GT4 Aston Martin at a stand; we also got reports of Klaus Landgraf’s Mercedes having a failure and/or accident at Tiergarten.
The next round of stops were opened by the #14 Mercedes, Manthey being able to take advantage of all the slow zones to get another lap of fuel – the top 10 all covered by 30 seconds as we approached half distance:
1st #912 Manthey Porsche
2nd #911 Manthey Porsche
3rd #14 Black Falcon Mercedes
4th #48 Mann Filter Mercedes
5th #99 ROWE BMW
6th #4 Falken Porsche
7th #15 Black Falcon Mercedes
8th #29 Land Audi
9th #3 Falken BMW
10th #5 Phoenix Audi
We entered the second half of the race with all the leaders making their stops either on lap 13 or 14; lap times on track were almost 2 minutes slower than qualifying due to slow zones Ex-Mühle through to Wippermann.
Once again, the #22 Ferrari being able to be the last to pit, was shown as leading with 90 minutes left to run.
#912 Manthey Porsche spun out with a hip check from the #48 Mercedes, quick response from the driver meant he could live for another day albeit losing several positions.
#48 Mercedes having dispatched the Porsche, continued to make contact – this time banging sides with the Land Audi R8 (Marcel Fässler behind the wheel)
The track only had one slow zone at this time, the #940 Cayman GT4 and #808 Astra TCR seen stationary at Breidscheid.
Disaster for Manthey – to confirm, it was the #912 that spun, but the #911 had to come into the garage to get some TLC (damage to the undertray).
Cars were having to be careful coming into the pits, as a KTM X-bow was stood dangerously in the fast lane with no drive.
A much better showing this weekend for the Konrad Lamborghini – #7 pushing for a top 10 in the final hour and actually one of the fastest cars at that stage of the race.
Finally, we saw the track cleared of caution totally & lap times into the sub 8:10 mark, but the leading trio of Adam Christodoulou’s Mercedes, the Phoenix #5 & Falken #4 getting caught for a slow lap waiting for the traffic.
Of course, it wouldn’t last long as we got to the final hour, three reports of car failures:
#148 SP8 Audi R8 off at Pflanzgarten
#273 SP3 Toyota GT86 to the side of Döttinger Höhe
#317 SP3T Opel Astra in the Hohenrain area
We also had a Code 60 for Hofor racing’s #482 approaching Schwalbenschwanz and finally the #435 Mathol Cayman ignited in flames in pit lane.
Confirmation was received on the hour that Manthey’s #911 would take no further part; the team unable to repair the damage to the floor; the #912 was trying to make up for lost time but lost out in the fight with Jesse Krohn’s BMW M6.
50 minutes left on the clock, we saw a fastest race lap from the #35 BMW M6 of Hunter Abbott flying under the radar again (08:05.390), a brief caution for the Adrenalin Motorports BMW cup car off at Aremberg causing no trouble.
The final pit stops for the SP9 cars made on lap 21-23; but the #15 Mercedes of Jan Seyffarth & #99 BMW of Krohn were playing clever, but different, strategies, so at that stage it was impossible to call.
For the Mercedes, this would be the wrong call; but the cards fell in the favour of ROWE racing.
At the 30 minute mark, a slow zone was needed for the older GTR #50 BMW Z4 facing the wrong way at Kesselchen.
With three laps to go, the leader was Jesse Krohn in the #99 BMW, fighting traffic desperately; 2nd place was Adam Christodoulou in the #14 Mercedes, chasing hard but with a question mark on fuel.
The SP6 class Porsche #200 caused a late slow zone over at Ex-Mühle which set the lead gap at 14 seconds.
The battle for 3rd place was even more dramatic as Martin Ragginger slotted the Falken Porsche ahead of the #29 Land Audi with 2 laps remaining; the last lap would see the pair of them catch Christodoulou – seemingly the worry about being able to make the fuel last being the main concern… until that was they came onto the Döttinger Höhe to find a Porsche spinning back from the barriers right in front of them; cars went left and right, everyone able to avoid contact but the incident was enough to ensure positions would be maintained.
Jesse Krohn took the win 8.7 seconds clear of Adam Christodoulou with Martin Ragginger taking the final podium position. The Land Audi of van der Linde & Marcel Fässler had to settle for 4th & the recovering Manthey #912 would round out the top 5.
The VLN championship now takes a break until late June as the Nordschleife sets focus for the ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 hours; a qualifying 6 hour race set for next Sunday 15th April.