Martini column: Suspense at all levels

It was at the beginning of April that the VLN endurance racing championship started its 40th season. I think, it was a really good, even furious start. With 175 cars a full grid and amongst them 30 GT3 race cars, almost all of them of the new generation. Nice and sunny weather on Saturday and a lot of fans in the spectator areas around our venerable Nordschleife. An action-packed and diverting race over four hours but above all a race without any problems or incidents, a race with a lot of exciting fights in the leading group and in many of the 26 classes. Fantastic action on the track, a magnificent backstage, a great atmosphere in the event area, fans – what more do you want?

The changes introduced in the VLN and at the Nordschleife over the winter months have been evaluated positively by almost all of the 437 drivers (by the way from 29 different nations). Almost all the drivers were likewise happy about the new Code 60 regulations. And the track modification in the area Flugplatz, that had been discussed at length in advance, as well as the smoothing of the jump at Quiddelbacher Höhe were also approved by the majority. The drivers to whom I spoke unanimously confirmed that the handling of their car was much smoother at this highly demanding spot and that it was easier to control the cars even if driving at higher speeds.

Now, recently and after a longer period of time, I had the opportunity again to join the crowd of fans at the Nordschleife. I followed the ADAC 6h Qualification Race at the section Breidscheid for a while and it was extremely impressive to see the speed in which the fast GT3 cars were flying over the bridge, at the beginning almost in a convoy.

But apart from the action in the lead, I found nevertheless that the 6h Race was rather boring. If only 60 race cars are spread over the 25.378 kilometres track combination of the Grand Prix Circuit and the Nordschleife, the spectators around the track risk to get bored quite quickly. Therefore, I really very much prefer the VLN where normally we have about three times more cars at the start in all of the ten races and where, in contrast to the 6h Race, we have close but fair fights about the leading positions in the many very different classes.