12.05.2016

Who will succeed Stippler and Fjordbach?

For the third time within one and a half months, the teams and drivers in the VLN endurance racing championship will fight for positions and points. At the same time, the 58th ADAC ACAS H&R Cup will constitute the rehearsal for the 24h Race. For the first time in the current season, it will not be class SP9, the class with the fast GT3 race cars, to figure the greatest number of cars, but the BMW M235i Racing Cup. And one more thing is for sure before the start on Saturday, the 14th of May 2016, at 12 o’clock: There will be a new VLN championship leader after the four hour race.

Promising candidates
The fact that Frank Stippler and Anders Fjordbach who, having scored two overall wins, are the current leaders in the VLN table will this time not be at the start in their Audi R8 LMS of Phoenix Racing, opens the way for their strong rivals. It will primarily be Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey in the BMW M235i Racing Cup who are putting great hopes into going in the championship lead. The drivers of the Bonk team dominated the competitors, who are very strong both regarding quantity and quality, in their class twice so far. If Schrey and Mies will succeed in doing a hat-trick, they will definitely move ahead in the lead of the table.

Hajo Müller, Jens Riemer and Dominik Thiemann, competing in class V5, will however be waiting for them making a mistake. They, too, dominated their class with their BMW E36 in both races and they will have 11 competitors in their class this Saturday. More promising candidates to take over the leading position in the series will start in SP7: Tim Scheerbarth and Alexander Toril Boqoui also finished the first two rounds as class winners in the Porsche 991 Cup, they will have to control eight cars in their class.

Debut at the Nordschleife for world champion team
A special focus at the third VLN race will be given to start number 386. This is the start number for a Peugeot 308 Racing Cup that will make its debut at the Nordschleife. No other than nine times world rally champion Sébastien Loeb manages the team and the car but he will not himself be behind the steering wheel. Sébastien Loeb Racing relies on the skills of the Nordschleife experienced team with Michael Bohrer and Jürgen Nett who will be completed by Frenchman Grégoire Demoustier to start in class SP2T.

Solo driver
He, Jürgen Nett, is at least already very familiar with the Peugeot brand. Together with his brother Joachim, he has so far been regularly fighting for points in a Peugeot 306 S16 in class V3, including the first two VLN races of the year. However, the brothers will now go separate ways and Joachim Nett will compete in the 58th ADAC ACAS H&R Cup as solo driver.

Joachim Nett will, though, not be the only participant to take up the challenge of the four hour race as solo driver. Max Langenegger will also be the only driver in the Citroen Saxo VTS of the Team Rallye Top. The same applies for Stefan Vancampenhoudt who is yet absolutely used to do so. The Belgian has already completed a full season (apart from the 6h race) for the Team Schirmer as solo driver in the BMW 325i in 2015 when he dominated class V4 almost at his discretion. He was thus fighting for the title up to the final round. This year, Schirmer and Vancampenhoudt changed to the BMW M325i Racing Cup where they will try to repeat their success of the previous year.

Fight for the overall victory
In the big classes, there are no more solo drivers. With a particular view on the preparation of the 24h Race, many teams rather use to enter three or even four drivers. One trio in a Mercedes-AMG GT3 entered by the team Mann Filter Zakspeed will make its VLN debut at the third round: the sons of the famous racing drivers Roland Asch, Klaus Ludwig and Hans Heyer - Sebastian, Luca and Kenneth. The Team Zakspeed has furthermore entered the Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3 with drivers Marc Gassner, Florian Strauß and Tom Coronel in class SP9.

The top teams of BMW, Audi, Porsche, Bentley, Lexus and Mercedes-Benz will of course also again play an important part in the fight about the race victory. After the total of three results on the podium, in particular the Mercedes teams are hungry to score a first overall win.

For Porsche, Manthey Racing, having entered three 911 GT3 R, will also be aiming at finally achieving a top position. The works cars will be driven by Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet, Earl Bamber and Nick Tandy as well as Michael Christensen and Fred Makowiecki.

One Porsche, though, will be greatly missed at the third VLN round. Frikadelli-Racing decided to withdraw their entry on Tuesday. The reason is the new classification of the Porsche 911 GT3 R in the so-called „Balance of Performance“ (BoP).

The unique diversity of brands will nevertheless provide a great fascination again for all the spectators at the Nordschleife. An excellent example of the colourful mix, by the way, is class SP8: There will be six different cars of five different manufacturers in this class – one Aston Martin Vantage GT8, one Lexus ISF CCS-R, one Ford Mustang GT, one Porsche 991 GT3 Cup AW, one Aston Martin V12 Vantage S and one Ferrari 458.

It was the Ferrari that won the class in the first two races. So Mike Jäger, Christian Kohlhaas and Stephan Köhler, currently fifth in the table, also have the chance to take over the lead in the championship.