An ingenious game, a good book or a happy relationship – these are things in life which never get bored. This is likewise applicable for the VLN endurance championship Nürburgring – both for the drivers and the fans. Each of the ten races per season takes place on the same circuit, yet every time the Nürburgring Nordschleife provides new challenges. Many of the participating teams have been at the start of the Eifel circuit since years, or some even since decades, but it happens quite frequently that they come up with some surprises regarding new drivers and new makes. As far as a team or a vehicle may dominate one of the races, other drivers and other makes may quickly take over the leading role at the next race. And even drivers who were thought to become the winners may fall victims of their own strategy or of the tricky conditions at the ‘Green Hell’, even in the final lap. The 40th season of the VLN endurance championship will once again provide anything but boredom and the eighth round of the year, the 48th ADAC Barbarossapreis on the 24th of September, will not make an exception in this regard.
Well-known faces in different makes
Georg Weiss, Jochen Krumbach and Oliver Kainz are definitely well-known by all the VLN experts as they are part of the regular guests in the endurance racing series. But even the most loyal fans will at first have difficulties to identify the driver trio on the starting grid of the eighth round. They will look in vain for their traditional race car, the Wochenspiegel Porsche 911 GT3 R. For the first time ever, Weiss, Krumbach and Kainz will compete in a Ferrari 488 GT3 at the Nordschleife – a premiere in the VLN. Whilst the predecessor model, the Ferrari 485 GT3, had been presented to the spectators already several times in the past, the eighth VLN race will represent a bit of a jump into the deep end, both for the driver trio and the car. It will be interesting to see the performance that the 488 GT3 will be capable of achieving with its 3.9 litres V8 turbo engine amongst the established GT3 race cars. “We have so far exclusively been competing in Porsche. Now, the time has come to try another car”, says Georg Weiss whose new car is being prepared for participation in the VLN by the Team Rinaldi Racing.
Seasoned campaigners undergoing testing
Two other well-known VLN drivers will also enter new ground on Saturday. The experienced Heinz Otto (82 class wins) and Jürgen Fritzsche (66 class wins) will have their first VLN participation in the current year. Together with Hannu Luostarinen – in 2015, the twins and the Finn narrowly missed the victory in the Opel Astra OPC Cup – they will proceed to the maiden trip in the Opel Astra TCR. Within the scope of the development of the car, the target of their participation shall in the first instance be an absolute endurance test under racing conditions. The Fritzsche brothers and Luostarinen will furthermore compete in direct comparison to two other TCR cars in class SP3T: the two Seat Leon TCR of mathilda racing, driven by Andreas Gülden and Jordi Gené as well as Michael Paatz and Mattias Wasel.
The next step to the big dream
The own-designed vehicles of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus belong to the regular, yet rather rare guests at the Nürburgring Nordschleife and always attract a lot of attention. At the 48th ADAC Barbarossapreis, Franck Mailleux and Felipe Fernández Laser as well as Jeff Westphal and Thomas Mutsch will drive two SCG 003C at the 24.358 kilometres long combination of the short version and the Nordschleife. An overall victory has not been granted yet for the exotic team from the United States but team manager James Glickenhaus believes in his dream and will launch another attack onto the top drivers this Saturday.
With Audi, BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-AMG, not less than four German manufacturers have so far shared the victories in the VLN 2016. In addition to Glickenhaus and Weinß in the Rinaldi-Ferrari, the brothers Dominik and Mario Farnbacher are getting ready to score the first win for a foreign manufacturer. Jürgen Alzen, Mike Stursberg and Nico Verdonck furthermore hope that they will be able to repeat their successful result with the Ford GT from the previous year. Should one of these starters manage to finish with a race win for the first time, another surprise would be added to the VLN.
Excitement instead of boredom
The only ones who are not ready to provide any kind of variety are Michael Schrey and Alexander Mies who have so far won their class Cup5 in each race. A fact which nevertheless makes the VLN even more interesting rather than boring. In the run-up to the season, no one would have anticipated that a team would be able to dominate the BMW M235i Racing Cup in this way. If Schrey and Mies succeed in scoring their eighth class win in the eighth race, their lead in the VLN overall standings will be unassailable.