Everything that can go wrong actually did go wrong in the beginning. In the end Jürgen Bretschneider, Ralf Zensen and Ralph Beck nevertheless celebrated a superior win with their BMW Mini in class SP2T at the second round of the VLN endurance racing championship Nürburgring. The action in this class demonstrated in an impressive way what characterizes the VLN in addition to the thrilling fights about points and class wins: a good relationship even amongst rivals.
For the driver trio of the Tire Motorsport Team for instance, the weekend seemed to find an early end already in the timed practice. When Jürgen Bretschneider was out on the track in the Mini and fighting for a good lap time, the disaster happened: A sudden loss of power in the four cylinder race car and Bretschneider came to the pits. The problem was identified quite quickly but could not be solved easily. They discovered that the damaged part was unavailable. “We were very close to pack up and go home”, said team manager Frank Gehlen.
But, surprisingly, it was their class rivals Oliver Schumacher and Ernst Berg, the class winners at the opening round, who offered their assistance for the team in misery. Their Peugeot RCZ is driven by the same engine as the Mini, they had the missing part in their stock on-site and delivered it to their competitors. “In fact, it is only thanks to them that we were able to repair our car in time before the start”, said Gehles who was extremely grateful.
Due to the early retirement in the timed practice, start driver Bretschneider had to take the start from the last grid position. He and his team mates, however, made the best of their unfortunate starting position and showed a brilliant performance which was worthwhile to see. In the constantly changing weather conditions, the fantastic handling of the Mini on the wet track was of great advantage for the team. Within the course of the four hour race, Bretschneider, Zensen and Beck gained more than 60 positions and left all of their SP2T class rivals behind. The Mini took the chequered flag in first class position and 115th overall. “This race provided us almost all of the ups and down you can image in a race. Finally, everything worked well”, said a very happy Zensen after the finish.
The irony of the whole story was that the so cooperative duo Schumann and Berg finally were not that lucky. They were in the lead but had an early finish of the race after twelve laps. “The warning lights on the dashboard are on, the temperature is increasing”, reported Ernst Berg on the radio and came to the pits. The team discovered an important loss of water in the cooling system and they decided to stop the race in order to avoid any bigger damage.