01.04.2016

Top names at the VLN season opener

The fans of the VLN endurance racing championship had to be patient for five months but now, the waiting will finally come to an end. On 2nd of April finally, the start light for the first race of the season will be switched on at the Nürburgring and the 2016 season comprising ten races will be launched with the 62nd ADAC Westfalenfahrt. The organising ADAC Westfalen expects about 180 cars with partly top class drivers in the various cockpits. When the four hour race will be started at 12 o’clock, young talents will again compete against experienced race drivers and prominent professional drivers against ambitious privateers, financially strong works teams against committed private teams and sophisticated GT3 race cars against genuine classical vehicles. This huge variety in the field and the legendary Nordschleife itself make the VLN a very special series with a worldwide unique flair.

The entry list for the first contest is long. Whether cars or drivers – almost each and every well-known name in GT and Touring Car Sports will be represented. In particular, the GT3 classes bursting with power will figure a lot of celebrities. The most successful driver in the history of the DTM, Bernd Schneider, will for example take part. Just like in the old times of the DTM, the 51 years old will sit again in a car made in Stuttgart, the Mercedes-AMG GT3.

Schneider will be part of a very strong driver quartet. In the car of the Team Black Flacon, he will share the cockpit with Manuel Metzger, who was the winner of the last two VLN races in the last season, Adam Christodoulou, also double VLN overall race winner in 2015, and Maro Engel, who was on top of the podium at one VLN event last year and earned his living from 2008 to 2011 as driver in the DTM.

In addition to Schneider and Engel, some more former, but also current DTM drivers will be on the starting grid at the VLN opening round. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Team Haribo Racing will be driven by DTM driver Maximilian Götz together with Lance David Arnold, Jan Seyffarth and former DTM driver Uwe Alzen.

The quartet of the Team Land-Motorsport that will make its comeback in the VLN this year will be first class: The two Audi drivers in the DTM, Mike Rockenfeller and Timo Scheider, will take part in an Audi R8 LMS together with Marc Basseng, the 26 times VLN overall winner, and Connor de Phillippi. BMW will be represented at the Nordschleife with two of its DTM drivers, Maxime Martin and Tom Blomqvist. Together with former DTM driver Dirk Werner and the current Champion of the Porsche Carrera-Cup Germany, Philipp Eng, Martin will compete in the BMW M6 GT3 entered by Rowe Racing. Blomqvist on the other hand will participate in a BMW M235iR in class SP8T for the team of Walkenhorst Motorsport. The entry list in class SP9 will also figure three other former DTM drivers, Frank Stippler (Audi R8 LMS of Phoenix Racing), Thomas Jäger (Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the AMG-Team HTP) and Stefan Mücke (Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the AMG-Team HTP).

The two current GT-Masters Champions Luca Ludwig and Sebastian Asch also wish to demonstrate their talents in that same class. They will be joined by Kenneth Heyer in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Team Zakspeed. Earl Babmer, Le Mans winner of the year 2015, too, does not want to miss this event. Together with Patrick Pilet, he will start in the Porsche 911 GT3 R of the Team Manthey-Racing. The local heroes of Frikadelli Racing, Klaus Abbelen, Patrick Huismann and Norbert Siedler, will rely on the same make in heading for an overall win. The same applies for Georg Weiss, Oliver Kainz, Jochen Krumbach and Mike Stursberg who will start for the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey at the VLN season opener. The VLN permanent starters of the private team Twin Busch Motorsport, Christian Mamerow as well as the brothers Marc and Dennis Busch in the Audi R8 LMS, are also hoping to achieve top results.

Amongst the great number of well-known names, there are however also two young GT3 newcomer: The 24 years old Moritz Oestreich and the 22 years old Michele Di Martino. For Oestreich, who was last year still competing in the Opel Astra OPC Cup, racing in the Mercedes SLS GT3 of HTP Motorsport will be a genuine GT3 premiere. Di Martino is the current champion in the BMW M235i Racing Cup and had the opportunity to get a taste of racing in a BMW Z4 GT3 in the previous season already at the ninth VLN round. He will now chase around the Nordschleife for the Team Walkenhorst Motorsport in the follow-up model, the BMW M6 GT3, together with Matias Henkola.

As part of that same team, Felipe Fernández Laser completed a successful season 2015. However, Laser has now changed for the exotic race car of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus in class SPX. Together with Manuel Lauck and Franck Mailleux, he will be driving one of the cars completely designed by the team itself. Another exotic vehicle in the group of the fast race cars could be the Ford GT entered by the Teams H&R Spezialfedern as it will be the only one to represent the manufacturer of Ford. Philipp Wlazik and Jürgen Alzen, the latter with 29 overall wins the most successful driver in the history of the VLN, will share the cockpit and do their best to repeat their race win at the fifth VLN round in the previous season. It will furthermore be exciting to see the performance of the two Lexus RC F GT3, which attracted a lot of attention in 2015 with their results on the podium. The Team Farnbacher Racing has entered the brothers Mario and Dominik Farnbacher in their car. The cockpit in the sister car of the Team Lexus Racing will be shared between Lorenz Frey and Stéphane Ortelli.