One-two victory for Phoenix Racing at the season opening

The local heroes of Phoenix Racing (Meuspath/Germany) left their mark on the first VLN race of the season 2016. Frank Stippler and Anders Fjordbach celebrated an overall win in their Audi R8 LMS at the 62nd ADAC Westfalenfahrt and finished the race over the 24.358 kilometres long track combination of the Nürburgring short version and the Nordschleife after 4:04:25.984 hours ahead of their team mates Laurens Vanthoor and Christopher Haase. For Stippler, this victory marks the twelfth VLN win and for the Danish Fjordbach the first. Into third place finished the Mercedes AMG GT3 of the team Black Falcon with Bernd Schneider, Adam Christodoulou, Maro Engel and Manuel Metzger who finally dominated their make colleagues of Haribo Racing (Uwe Alzen / Maxi Götz / Lance David Arnold / Jan Seyffarth).

As tough as the battles were towards the end of the race, as close was the competition already right after the start. With their pole position, Land Motorsport (Marc Basseng / Connor De Phillippi / Timo Scheider / Mike Rockenfeller) had a really successful comeback to the VLN and Marc Basseng went right into the lead in the Audi R8 LMS. He got, however, quickly under pressure exerted by the later winner Frank Stippler in the Ford GT (Jürgen Alzen / Philipp Wlazik) but, just before the end of the fifth lap, Stippler prevailed over Basseng and went into the lead. Basseng, nevertheless, did not want to give up and they both crossed the Line simultaneously one lap later. Stippler yet finally retained the lead until the finish.

“In cooperation with our new tyre partner and suspension manufacturer, the preparation of our car was really good. We were not really sure how the package would work at the Nordschleife, but the car was so good right from the start that I cannot think of anything that needs to be improved”, said Stippler. In fact, their sister car with start number 15 took the chequered flag in first position but received a 35 seconds time penalty due to a yellow flag infringement and thus dropped back in second place. “I am happy”, said the Belgian Laurens Vanthoor. “The car was perfect and the main goal for Christopher and me was to find back to our rhythm at the Nordschleife.”

Behind the Audi pair, Mercedes-Benz in the end achieved third place with the new AMG GT3 which participated in racing at the Nordschleife for the third time only. However, Haribo Racing did not leave the field victorious to Black Falcon and there was a tough fight going on between the two cars until the end of the race which Black Falcon finally dominated.

Land Motorsport finished in fifth place at their comeback, ahead of the Bentley Continental GT3 driven by Christian Menzel, Guy Smith, Marco Holzer and Fabian Hamprecht. The fastest BMW M6 GT3, which made its racing debut at the Nordschleife, finished seventh for the team Walkenhorst Motorsport with Michele di Martino Matias Henkola from Finland behind the steering wheel. ROWE RACING and Schubert Motorsport in contrast were not able yet to fight about a position in the top ten.

The two Porsche 911 GT3 entered by Manthey-Racing could only provide an indication of their potential at this VLN opening round. Both cars dropped back due to a tyre damage and finally finished tenth and eleventh respectively.

There were also some innovations introduced at this season opener. Those included the revised Code-60 rule. With the double waved yellow flags which indicates a speed limit of 120 km/h, there is now a pre-warning for the drivers. “The two-stage reduction of the speed is much better and avoids emergency braking. You still need to get used to the new rule but it’s the right way to go. The new asphalt surface at the Flugplatz also makes sense”, said Frank Stippler.

Another new element was the launch of the ‘Cayman GT4-Trophy by Manthey-Racing’. The new Cup 3 class figured ten starters. The first drivers to score a victory in this category were Marc Hennerici and Moritz Oberheim. “I am really happy with the result”, said Marc Hennerici. “It was great fun and there is an extremely close level of competition, that is pure and enjoyable racing.” Hennerici and the only 19 years old Oberheim crossed the finish line with an advance of 21.491 seconds ahead of the second placed team. The fights in the BMW 235i Racing Cup with its 19 participants were even closer. The difference between the winners Michael Schrey and Alexander Mies (Bonk Motorsport) and second-placed single driver Stefan van Campenhoudt (Team Schirmer) was only 10.216 seconds.

The second VLN race, the 41st DMV 4 Hour Race, will take place on 30th April.