Under a bright summer sky Jürgen Alzen Motorsport made its return to VLN. With all the might and power of a super team, the Ford GT3 with Uwe Alzen and Dominik Schwager behind the wheel, paced through the Eifel forests at blinding speed, bringing home the second win in a row for the Betzdorfer outfit.
Jürgen Alzen has had enough of all the drama at the Nürburgring: as long as there are speed limits, the popular driver refuses to race. But denying the whole team competing at the legendary Nordschleife is not what he’s about. So after a break of four races, the team returns to VLN for the first time since they won the 2014 season finale. With Uwe Alzen filling in for his brother, Dominik Schwager has to share his car with one of the best, if not the best, Nordschleife specialists out there.
At 10 o’clock in the morning, with the sun already shining bright and hot, it’s the Ford GT topping the charts with a lap time that once would’ve put the car on pole position even without speed limits. Narrowly beating the BMW Z4 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport, Jürgen Alzen Motorsport leaves no doubt that they want to continue on from their win last October.
But times, or rather attitudes, have changed. Now on a race track with controversial speed limits, teams have opted to equip their cars with additional downforce, increasing corner speeds and edging closer and closer to the lap times set here until the tragic season opener some months ago.
Jürgen Alzen hasn’t been left behind: dive planes and a new splitter are among the newest additions to the old car, forcing it into the SPX class until homologation to return to SP9/GT3 has been approved.
Leaving behind the rest of the field when the lights go out, Alzen is first onto the Nordschleife and gone from the view of his pursuants. Behind him, top tier drivers such as Car Collection Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 racer Renger van der Zande, last race’s winner Jesse Krohn in the Walkenhorst BMW Z4 GT3 and Patrick Huisman in his Frikadelli Porsche 997 GT3R are left to fight over second place.
The competition stands no chance against the Betzdorfer: in the first four laps Alzen is faster than anyone else out there, quickly increasing his lead.
Perhaps it’s overeagerness, perhaps it’s something else, but when the Ford GT makes its first pit stop of the race after four laps and 43 minutes, Alzen is send out too early. Not making the minimum required pit stop time is punished with a stop-and-go-penalty, throwing Alzen out of the lead.
Seizing the moment is Jesse Krohn. The Finn is now in first place, a familiar position for the Walkenhorst Z4 after it won its very first race last month. Just as on that hot day, BMW works pilot Krohn is again joined by Michela Cerruti and Felipe Fernándes Laser.
The BMW squad sheds itself of two tough competitors after the first round of pit stops, when Van der Zande retires with a broken transmission and Huisman makes an uncharacteristic mistake at Galgenkopf, ending Frikadelli Racing’s hope for victory.
Lap after lap Alzen keeps pushing, making up for lost ground. Halfway through the race Dominik Schwager takes over, and doesn’t let up either. As the final hour approaches, the Ford GT has recovered remarkably from the earlier penalty and a collision with a slower car. After having seen the Farnbacher Lexus, Walkenhorst Z4, Wochenspiegel Manthey Porsche and Phoenix’s Audi R8 lead the race, the Jürgen Alzen-led team rises to the top of the charts for the final time shortly before the start of the fourth hour.
Not giving up his place at the front of the field again, Schwager takes the chequered flag like he last did on 25 October 2014: as the winner.
Then winning under a cold dark sky, a now heat beaten Schwager gets out of the car to tell the gather media: “I was okay in the car. But I was really happy that I was not involved in a battle for our position and that I could finish the race in rather a relaxed way.”
“No one expected this–we’re so happy,” Uwe Alzen adds.
36 years after an Asian manufacturer last finished on the podium, the Lexus RC F GT3 reset the clock: the Farnbacher team finishes second after an excellent race, only eleven seconds behind the winner after the Ford team is awarded a second time penalty, this time for speeding in a slow zone.
Behind the Lexus comes in the BMW Z4 GT3 of Walkenhorst Motorsport. Winners during the hottest race of the year weeks ago, they now have to settle for third after another outstanding four hours of racing.
“We had no chance today against the Ford GT,” Laser reflects. “After an accident at Kesselchen, I had to complete the last part of the race with a damaged front and was thus not able to fully attack the Lexus in front of me. We are nevertheless happy. We have worked out a very good setup and we are further developing.”
Nick Tandy has made his VLN debute long before today, but this weekend he came to the Nordschleife as a Le Mans 24 hours winner for the first time. Needless to say, the Briton and teammate Christoph Breuer didn’t disappoint, taking the fight to the big SP9/GT3 cars and coming home in fifth, only eleven seconds behind the Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 of Dominik Baumann, Anders Burchardt and Maximilian Sandritter, as well as winning the SP7 class.
VLN has been warned: privateer Jürgen Alzen Motorsport took to the track today and beat works teams and unforced mistakes to reach the highest step on the podium. Overcoming two penalties and a collision to win makes for high hopes for the future.