VLN Race #1 of 2019 is in the books. And ROWE Racing has won the first race of the season with a strong finish by John Edwards in the ROWE BMW M6 GT3 #99, who managed in the very last lap to take the lead back from Patrick Pilet in the Manthey Porsche GT3 R #912.
The day started with the so typical Eifel weather – in surrounding areas and even at parts of the track like Brünnchen, there was some glance of early morning sun – but the higher parts of the track were covered in heavy fog with visibility of about 30-50 meters. The start of the practice and qualification was delayed several times, and then the schedule got really compressed tightly. Qualification for just an hour, which started 12:30. The new start time was set for 15:20, the preparation of the starting grid got so much shortened that spectators were not allowed to go for a grid walk. And the race time was reduced from 4 hours to 2:45, to still finish before sunset.
ROWE Racing looked strong already in Qualifying, taking pole with#98 (De Phillippi / Blomqvist / Jensen) and 4th place with #99 (Catsburg / Wittmann / Edwards), while 2nd start grid position went to Konrad Motorsport with the new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO (Di Martino / Mapelli / Perera), and 3rd place to the HTP Motorsport/Mannfilter AMG GT3 (Götz / Hohenadel / Marciello).
The two ROWE Racing M6 GT3’s yet got passed both during the race by the Manthey Porsche GT3 R #912 (Makowiecki / Pilet), who had qualified only in 10th position. Patrick Pilet took the lead half an hour before the end of the race, and looked already like the winner.
Yet in the very last lap, John Edwards – who shared the ROWE BMW M6 GT3 #99 with Nick Catsburg, and Marco Wittmann – still managed to pass Patrick Pilet to take the win of the first VLN race this season. The TV Cameras did not capture that moment, and after the race there were speculations as to whether or not a Code 60 phase somewhere at the track has had influence. The race result yet got confirmed, so it seems all fine.