The eighth round of the VLN endurance championship was a movie-like story in several respects. Story number one: In an exciting final of the race, Kevin Estre and Earl Bamber in the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Manthey-Racing succeeded in beating the team of Haribo Racing and drivers Uwe Alzen and Lance David Arnold in a Mercedes-AMG GT3, their razor-thin advantage was 0.371 seconds. The joy about the victory did nevertheless not last long as after the race, the Manthey duo received a 35 seconds time penalty for overtaking under yellow flags. So they had to be satisfied with second position ahead of Peter Dumbreck and Martin Ragginger in a Porsche 911 GT3 R of Falken Motorsports. Story number two was the fight about the championship title. After seven class wins in a row, Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey this time finished only third in the BMW M235i Racing Cup organised as part of the 48th ADAC Barbarossapreis. The points allocated for third position were however sufficient for the two drivers of Bonk-Motorsport to defend their superior lead in the championship. Under normal circumstances, the title cannot be taken away from Mies and Schrey, the chances of their competitors are no more than theoretical.
The pole position in the earlier timed practice was gained by Christian Krognes in the BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport powered by Dunlop, he set a time of von 7:53.375 minutes. After the race start, his team mate Jesse Krohn went into the lead, dominating the Haribo-Mercedes-AMG GT3, the Manthey-Porsche 911 GT3 R and the Lexus RC F GT of Dominik and Mario Farnbacher. Due to an accident in lap twelve, the third driver in the Walkenhorst team, Victor Bouveng from Sweden, did no longer have the opportunity to go out on the track. The Farnbacher-Lexus, which went into the lead for one lap, retired after 14 laps when the car went on fire during a pit stop. A mechanic was injured in this incident, he was suffering burns on his hands and had to undergo some medical treatment at the hospital.
Some kilometres in the lead were also completed by the Frikadelli-Porsche (Klaus Abbelen, Patrick Huisman, Norbert Siedler and Sabine Schmitz finally finished sixth) and by the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Black Falcon, in which driver Manuel Metzger however unfortunately crashed into the track barriers in lap 18 at the Hohenrain chicane due to liquids on the circuit (after a previous accident).
“It was a torture for me to follow the last laps from the pits”, said Uwe Alzen. “That was an incredible finish.” Team mate Lance David Arnold added: “We did not have a single second today to relax and we had to push to our limits in each and every lap.” After their victory at the sixth round, the Haribo Racing Team did not only celebrate their second win of the season, but also the third top three result in a row. “That is a fantastic success for the whole team”, said Alzen. “We have worked hard and long towards that end and we had to suffer one or another setback during the past two years. All the nicer then that things are going so well currently.”
Even though they were finally not able to celebrate a victory, Kevin Estre expressed his relief: “It was the first time for me to come back to the Nordschleife after my crash at the 24h Race”, the Frenchman said. “So it is a really good feeling to have finished the race successfully.” Peter Dumbreck who finished in third place, too, was happy with the performance of his 911 GT3 R: “Our team has done a brilliant job in the further development of the Porsche, we have made a big step forwards.”
Nico Verdonck of H&R Spezialfeders managed to set a new lap record in his Ford GT. In his second lap, the man from Belgium completed the 24.358 kilometres long combination of the Grand Prix Circuit short version and the Nordschleife with a time of 7:58.558 minutes. He was thus beating the previous track record set by Jens Klingmann who had been the first driver to set a time below 8 minutes (7:59.045 minutes).
Mies and Schrey: in an uncatchable lead, but no champions yet
Race number eight of the current season turned out to become a nail-biter for Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey. After seven superior class wins in the BMW M235i Racing Cup, their run of luck now finished. Mies went off the track in the practice and damaged their car. “Our BMW did not suffer the slightest damage in the previous seven races and now this has happened here”, said Mies. The Bonk team did a brilliant job and managed to repair the M235i in time for the start. After having started from third position, the duo dropped back to the end of the field in the first part of the race. Mies had to stop on the track to re-adjust his seat. He and his team mate then started a heavy attack to catch up and finished third in the Cup class which once again featured the high number of 20 starters. After eight races, Schrey and Mies are now in a practically uncatchable lead in the championship. Merely on the base of figures, it would still be possible for some competitors to displace them from first place; yet, this is only a theoretic calculation considering the average numbers of competitors in the respective classes, so Bonk-Motorsport will make it and gain their fourth VLN title at the end of the season.
The victory in the BMW Cup class went to solo driver Heiko Eichenberg who celebrated his second VLN class win in the M235i of the team Securtal Sorg Rennsport. The winners in the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey-Racing were once again Marc Hennerici and Moritz Oberheim. With their sixth class win, they also won in advance the title of the Cayman Trophy which was introduced this year for the first time. Manuel Amweg and Thomas Lampert of the Toyota Swiss Racing Team on their part further extended their lead in the TMG GT86 Cup, winning their class for the fourth time in 2016.
The ninth race of the season will already take place in two weeks, on the 8th of October. The DMV 250-Meilen-Rennen – organised by the MSC Adenau – will run over the traditional four hour race duration.