Bad luck for the Porsche GT3 crews at the season opener

The new Porsche 911 GT3 R made its debut in racing already last year at the ninth round of the VLN endurance racing championship, a world premiere at that time. In 2016 now, the car was supposed to demonstrate its true potential. Three major VLN teams, Manthey Racing, Frikadelli Racing and Falken Motorsports, will this season use the GT3 top model from Zuffenhausen. At the opening round on 2nd April, the Porsche crews unfortunately suffered some problems which spoiled positions amongst the top ten. However, these problems were actually not caused by the new nine eleven.

After the practice in the morning, the two Porsche of the team Manthey left the best impression from amongst the 911 GT3 R. Earl Bamber and Patrick Pilet set seventh fastest time (8:10,640 minutes), Jörg Bergmeister and Fred Makowiecki gained twelfth position on the grid.

The race then saw Frikadelli-Racing, the team with the cult status based in Barweiler near the Nürburgring, completing the first kilometres for the new Porsche in the lead. Patrick Huismann had taken the start from 22nd position and moved up into the lead just before his pit stop in the eighth lap. The Dutchman nevertheless struggled with the setup of his car. “We have changed the setup again on Friday evening but that may have been an over-hasty reaction. The setup was probably too hard for the Nordschleife, the car was jumping a lot.”

Much more difficulties encountered the team then during the stint of Norbert Siedler. He had a collision with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Team HTP Motorsport in the track section Hatzenbach. “He was all of a sudden braking on the straight“, reported the driver Stefan Mücke later. Whilst the Mercedes then had to retire at the pits later on, the Frikadelli-Porsche made it to the finish despite some damage on the car. “I was hit twice from behind by a car that pushed me sideways and the underbody was then damaged”, informed Siedler. This made the job in the Green Hell difficult for the two other drivers in the Frikadelli team, Klaus Abbelen and Sabine Schmitz but the “fastest meatball on earth” finally managed to take the chequered flag in 23rd place.

The two Manthey-Porsche in contrast still seemed to make it on the podium when three hours race time had elapsed. The driver duo Bamber and Pilet were even in the lead at mid-race and it looked as if they were able to secure a position in the top three during the following hour, just as their sister car. But then, within only ten minutes, all of the hopes for a podium position were spoiled. First of all, Bergmeister and Makowiecki suffered a tyre damage on their Porsche and a short time later Bamber and Pilet had the same problem. Both cars were in third position at the moment when they encountered their problem. They finally finished in tenth (Bamber/Pilet) and eleventh places respectively.

Third best Porsche of the opening round was the nine eleven of Falken Motorsport which crossed the line in 18th overall place. The trio with Peter Dumbreck, Alexandre Imperatori and Martin Ragginger had a trouble-free race but were mainly focused on the setup of the car. “I had some very nice fights and a lot of fun in the car”, said Ragginger. “But our main goal today was to complete as many kilometres as possible and work on the setup of the car.” And they succeeded as the Porsche was running perfectly.

That was what the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey had also been hoping for. The VLN opening race yet was running anything else than perfect. The driver quartet Georg Weiss, Oliver Kainz, Jochen Krumbach and Mike Stursberg had taken the start from 21st grid position but they were stopped already in the first lap. Start driver Krumbach went off the track in his Porsche at the exit of Fuchsröhre and crashed into the Armco barriers. Unfortunately, the damage could not be repaired in the time available.