Finishing on the podium is usually a good indicator of a car’s competitive performance, so when the Haribo Racing drivers came out after the second VLN race complaining about the Balance of Performance, it almost felt silly. But for Lance David Arnold it’s no laughing matter at all. The Haribo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 racer fought against the odds in VLN2 to score a hard-fought second place and now fears that the current Balance of Performance will only make the racing more dangerous.
Lance David Arnold wanted to celebrate when he and his Haribo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 team mates Uwe Alzen and Maxi Götz took second place in the 42. DMV 4-Stunden-Rennen. Having raced four hours long with which they deemed to be an underpowered car, the frustration with the current Balance of Performance and mental exhaustion was too great to enjoy the result.
“Normally, finishing second is not too bad, I would be smiling,” a visibly frustrated Lance David Arnold admits. “To be on the podium is always good.
“There are a lot of good drivers here at the moment, and about 30 GT3 cars. It’s a very nice competition and I like fighting the hard fights. I like to be aggressive but still be fair, it’s good, and it’s racing and everyone likes to see that.
“We just need some top speed to be there and for it to be safer. But of course, everyone is talking about the BoP and I wish I wouldn’t do that.”
Despite his reluctance to be another driver claiming the unfairness of his car’s Balance of Performance, the Duisburger explains it’s not so much about the time lost itself, but how it’s lost
“The problem is in traffic. When you’re stuck in traffic and you’re driving a slow car on a straight, it means that you’re always in trouble. It also means that we have to take more risks. And that’s very dangerous for the 24 Hour race. You can’t go this pace at the 24 Hours [of the Nürburgring] in this situation and it makes me a little bit scared.
“The top speed in general, we are talking about 12 to 14 ‘k’s compared to the Porsche and Bentleys, and to the Audi as well. That’s hard. It’s like bringing a knife to a gunfight.
“The problem is that you can’t avoid being overtaken, but at the same time you have no chance of overtaking the other car. Even when he’s stuck in traffic and you come at him with more speed, he has more power to stay in front, that makes it very difficult for us.
“When you see the other car in front of you is overtaking all off the time, you’ll always try and want to follow him, and when you then don’t have the speed, you do it under braking, you push, in the turns, squeezing next to them. There is now more potential for contact.”
The mental battle the drivers had to fight was clearly visible for anyone who watched the TV broadcast. Following the Haribo AMG via the onboard camera, the hand gestures betrayed the drivers’ anger and frustration.
“You can’t race at this speed for 24 hours. You have no chance as a driver, with the stress in traffic.
“Every time when I go into the car, I say to myself, ‘OK, stay cool, be relaxed’. But it doesn’t work. When you’re stuck in traffic and for the third, fourth time you’re seeing the same cars during your stint, then there’s no chance [to stay calm]. You’re screaming and everything. I know it’s not right, but I can’t help it, haha!”
In addition to the power output, Arnold isn’t happy with the increased drive height either. The governing body, DMSB, has been cracking down on speed since the last fatal accident in 2015 has come in many forms, one of which is an increase in the minimum driving height, set at 7 centimeters for all GT3 vehicles. The former Mercedes-AMG and Bentley works driver believes this measure is even counterproductive.
“It isn’t only the straight-line speed, it’s also the ride height. We are at 7 centimeters that we have to drive. This is very high for a GT3 car.
“Two years ago, there was the accident with the car that crashed at the [Flugplatz] jump and it’s not better now, huh, when the car is higher. When you’re exiting Hatzenbach, you’re still at the same speed. The car’s ride height doesn’t matter, so there’s no difference. But then when you have a higher car and you hit the jumps, it’s more dangerous.”
The solution, Arnold says, could instead be an increase of minimum weight.
“Maybe we can talk about adding ten or twenty kilos, or whatever, but we need the top speed back. This situation is only dangerous for the 24 Hour race.”
The next outing at the Nordschleife is the final competition round before the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. With two days of track action including a 6-hour race, the ADAC Qualifikationsrennen 24h-Rennen is a welcome opportunity to make one last effort to work on the car with the new Michelin tyres. The increased demand of commercially available tyres since the introduction of new tyre regulations outlawed the use of confidential rubber this year, has left Michelin with more customers than they could serve.
“We have new tyres, but for this weekend we only got two sets of the good ones, because the new tyre regulations are terrible.
“Normally, we need four sets of tyres for the qualifying and the race, but now we have two, meaning you have to mix it. You compare it with the soft ones, the medium ones and whatever, so it’s really hard and difficult to understand what’s going on when you’re trying to analyze that for your set-ups.
“The plan is to do the Qualifying Race with Renger [van der Zande], Uwe and myself. It’s important that everyone gets some track time and get to feel comfortable in the car, that’s the main thing.”
After that, AMG’s faith is in the DMSB’s hands.