Manthey column: Joint decisions

Following the accident in the first VLN race of the year 2015, there had been increasingly controversial discussions, heated debates and hardened positions all around the issue of safety at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.

It is understood that, in such a debate, the various parties, the teams, the drivers, the committed manufacturers, the VLN, the Nürburgring, the DMSB, they all have different perceptions, evaluations, views and objectives. And sometimes, this is just as clear, they have different interests. Own interests.

However: There is an overriding interest – an interest that prevails over all the specific individual interests and that in fact must prevail. This particular interest is that racing at the Nordschleife must be as fair as necessary and as safe as possible.

When the DMSB diluted or even rejected the in my opinion reasonable and productive proposals presented by the drivers’ working group, on which it initially attached such a great importance regarding their expertise, and announced insufficient decisions instead (and not only in my view), I simply had to take action. Upon my initiative, 76 teams all of which are regular participants in the VLN formed an interest group, the Interessengemeinschaft Langstrecke Nürburgring (ILN) on 29th of December; and these teams who will bring together the total of 109 cars to start in the VLN 2016 took up a consistent position by democratic means.

It must be admitted that the decision to boycott the VLN, should the DMSB indeed refuse to take those measures which were regarded necessary by the ILN, was an extreme concept to apply pressure – but in the end it achieved the desired effect and this is what finally counts.

For, the discussion that followed with the DMSB representatives in Frankfurt on 11th of January 2016 were running pretty much in the way as we, the teams, the drivers and also the representatives of the VLN and the ADAC Nordrhein, had wished for – which is to say based on facts, focused on expertise, in a cooperative and efficient manner and always having an eye for the big picture.

The meeting underlines how fundamentally important it is to identify the different experiences and competencies of all parties and to combine them all in the sense and to the benefit of the prevailing interests. And this becomes only possible if all parties have respect for and appreciate one another, if they continue to speak with each other, if they listen to each other and exchange their views multilaterally on a regular basis.

Safety in motorsport in general and in particular at the Nordschleife, this is not a long-standing situation but a continuing process which never ends. It is now imperative to observe all the developments and to react accordingly, to review the measures taken regarding their purpose, their effectivity and long-term effect and to be always ready to apply adjustments. This is what we, the ILN, will always stand for and we hope that all the other parties will join us hereby.

The issue may never be to always be right or to defend one’s own power. Fights about positions out on the race track where we will have a winner in the end, yes, of course. Fights about positions off the race track, no, because we should have a target oriented cooperation so that everybody will be a winner in the end.