It was exactly the exciting start of the Trophy that everybody was expecting. It was the first time for the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey-Racing to appear at the Nordschleife and the drivers delivered tough fights for positions and exciting racing action until the very last race lap. When the chequered flag came out, it was the driver duo Marc Hennerici and Moritz Oberheim of the Team Raceunion Teichmann Racing (RTR) who were celebrating the first Trophy victory. Finishing with an advance of about 21 seconds, the team made up of one experienced Porsche driver and one newcomer pushed down their strongest rivals – Kai Riemer and Arndt Meier, the two skilled drivers of the Team Arkenau Motorsport – to second place. Hamza Owega and Moritz Kranz finished third with a gap of about one minute behind.
Each of the top three had been temporarily in the lead during the four hour VLN opening round on 2nd April, so this was really an action-packed debut for the Cup. The ten starters in their GT4 Porsche demonstrated in an impressive way that, with the Cayman GT4 Trophy, the VLN endurance racing championship Nürburgring has got one more fascinating attraction.
„That was exciting. We lost some time due to two smaller incidents“, said the boss of the winning team, Georg Teichmann. „Our drivers did not feel discouraged, though, and they have deserved that win.” In the qualifying already, the young Oberheim, who is the current BMW 325i Racing Cup and VLN Junior Trophy Champion, left an abiding impression. The 19 years old completed the 24,358 kilometres long circuit in a lap time of 8:48.786 minutes and gained pole position. “Moritz has set a fantastic lap time and he proved his speed to everyone”, commented Hennerici the performance of his team mate. With a gap of about three seconds behind, Owega and Kranz took up second position on the grid and, on their part and with an advance of about two seconds, left the driver trio Willy Hüppi, Alexander Schula and Patrick Assenheimer in third start position.
When the starting lights at the Nürburgring changed from red to green at 12h30, nobody could have stopped the Trophy participants. Marc Keilwerth and Florian Spengler of the Team Mathol Racing had a particularly good start. Starting from sixth grid position in their Cayman, they managed to move up into second place and only the pole setters were able to withstand their attacks in front of the first corner. The action right after the start, however, turned out to give just a taste of what happened later on throughout the four hour race duration. The teams changed positions again and again, also in the lead. A little more than one hour after the race start for example, Owega and Kranz were in the lead of the Trophy but they were under heavy pressure applied by their direct rivals Marcel Hoppe and Moritz Gusenbauer in the RTR sister car as well as by Fidel Leib, Max Koch and Jörg Viebahn (Prosport-Performance).
At that time, Hennerici and Oberheim were classified fourth and they were not able to improve this position until towards the middle of the race. The competition about the top three positions in contrast continued to be very close. After two hours race time, Riemer/Meier crossed the Line ahead of Hoppe/Gusenbauer and Owega/Kranz. In the second half of the race, though, Oberheim and Hennerici started a heavy attack to catch up. First of all, they passed Owega and Kranz and then went into the lead in a final very strong push and finally celebrated a win. Even though they, too, had been so close to a victory, the Team Arkenau was also very happy after the finish. “We had a first roll-out with our Porsche Cayman as late as on Friday, so the team strategy for the race was rather conservative”, said team manager Nikolaus Arkenau. “So the second place is a fantastic result for us.”
Despite the exciting fights and close racing action, almost all of the Porsche Cayman GT4 were able to withstand the tough challenges at the Nordschleife at the launch of the Trophy. Only one participant had to retire after ten laps. “We are delighted that almost all of our cars made it to the finish”, said Markus Behrends, project manager of the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey-Racing, “We are now already looking forward with great anticipation to our next race.” On 30th of April, Oberheim and Hennerici will have to take big efforts at the second VLN race to repeat their success of the opening round.