Preview round 9: some innovations at the start of the autumn season

The list of participants at the ninth round of the VLN endurance championship Nürburgring 2016 came up with a number of surprises. The new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup and the KTM X-Bow GT4 will make their debut at the Nordschleife, just like BMW-DTM driver Bruno Spengler, Marco Seefried and Felipe Fernández Laser who will start for Manthey-Racing in a Porsche, the Schnitzer team as well as the brothers Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck will celebrate a comeback in the VLN and Falken Motorsports has for the first time entered a BMW M6 GT3 in addition to the Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Last week at the Paris Motorshow, it was presented to the public and just a few days later, the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup will make its debut at the Nordschleife: At the penultimate race of the VLN 2016, the new Cup racer will go through its baptism of fire in racing in class SP-X. On behalf of Manthey-Racing, Lars Kern and Marco Seefried shall collect first data of the Cup eleven which has been upgraded in many details.

The same applies for the KTM X-Bow in the closed GT4 version. The sports car with the futuristic design of the dome-shaped glass roof has been entered for the DMV 250-Meilen-Rennen by the teams of True Racing and Isert Racing. The drivers will be Ferdinand and Johannes Stuck who are celebrating their comeback at the Nordschleife after a break of three years as well as Christopher Haase and Arne Hoffmeister.

Bruno Spengler will compete in his first race at the Nordschleife. The BMW DTM works driver from Canada and Champion in 2012 will start for the BMW Team RMG together with his country fellow Kuno Wittmer. And for the team around their successful team director Stefan Reinhold it will also be a VLN premiere with BMW. “This weekend, almost everything will be new for me”, Spengler says. “I have never been driving a race car at the Nordschleife. Moreover, I rarely compete in a comparatively slow race car like the BMW M235i Racing Cup in which I will have to carefully observe the rear view mirror not to hold someone up. I simply have to get used to that first. The weekend will be a huge challenge for me to which, yet, I am really looking forward.”

In the last years, Marco Seefried has already driven almost all of the GT3 cars at the Nürburgring Nordschleife: Audi, Bentley, Ferrari, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche. The start with Manthey-Racing will be the first participation of the current season in a Porsche for the endurance-experienced race driver. One of his team mates in the ninth round will now be taking the same direction: Felipe Fernández Laser. He will compete together with „G. Tonic“ in the SP7-Porsche 911 of Manthey-Racing – after participations in the SCG 003 of the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus and in the BMW M6 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport powered by Dunlop this will after all be the third brand already in one year.

The BMW M6 GT3 will be very well represented at the DMV 250-Meilen-Rennen. In addition to the teams Walkenhorst Motorsport and ROWE Racing, two new teams will join the championship and bring the GT3 from the Munich factory to the start: the BMW Team Schnitzer and Falken Motorsports. While Schnitzer, with BMW junior Nico Menzel and the experienced Jens Klingmann, returns to the VLN family and to the Nordschleife after a break of five years, the Falken team will enter new territory. The team will use the M6 GT3 for the first time and has engaged Alexandre Imperatori and Philipp Eng as drivers. The Porsche 911 GT3 R will also compete in the colours of the Japanese tyre manufacturer; Wolf Henzler and Frederik Makowiecki will share the steering wheel in this car.

Christopher Mies and Connor De Phillippi of the team Land-Motorsport will travel to the Nürburgring as the new champions in the ADAC GT Masters and focus on scoring their third VLN victory in the current season.

The long-time VLN participant Heinz Schmersal will come up with a model change. After many years of racing in his own Audi TTRS 2.0 in class SP3T, Schmersal has for the first time entered a Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport MR in class GT4 for this ninth VLN race. The team has already collected first experience with this car at the Barcelona 24h Race. Schmersal will share the cockpit of the production-based race car with mid-mounted engine with Markus Oestreich and Thomas Schmid.

Even though the championship is already decided in practice – a third place in the BMW Cup class at the eighths round will be sufficient for Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey to be crowned champions in advance – and even though the champions are also already certain in the BMW M235i Racing Cup and in the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey-Racing, the two remaining races of the VLN season will nevertheless still provide a lot of excitement. The decision in the VLN Production Car Trophy and in the VLN Speed Trophy remains to be taken, just as the two brand cups of Opel and TMG.