It wasn’t what Matias Henkola would’ve signed for when the weekend began, but having to race back to the front after being turned around by another car at the start, the 7th place finish in VLN’s 40. RCM DMV Grenzlandrennen was a welcome result.
Bad luck with yellow flags near the end of the qualifying session prevented Henkola and his Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 teammates Christian Krognes and Michele Di Martino from taking back the top position they held early in the session.
“I had two double-yellow zones in my qualifying lap in the damp conditions and still managed to be third-fastest at the time”, says Henkola. “Then Christian was going for a clear P1 lap time when there was a Code 60 zone in Tiergarten.”
Di Martino started the race from 9th on the grid, but immediately had hopes for a top finish dashed when a fellow competitor pushed the BMW into a spin at the first corner. The Dunlop-sponsored car fell far down the order as it got passed by the first starting group.
By the time it was Henkola’s turn in the car, Di Martino had already gained back most of the positions lost.
The drizzle that dampened the Nordschleife since the start of the race made conditions out on track more challenging, especially when the rain picked up during Henkola’s stint. Despite the low grip, the Finnish racer took to the challenge with determination and won several more positions.
“It was a quite hard stint as there were a lot of local rain showers all around the track,” Henkola continues. “The places where it was wet the lap before, were only damp the next time by and the rain had moved somewhere else.
“I had to guess a bit how fast I could go into the wet parts on the slick tyres, but the lap times were similar to the leaders and I felt I pushed as hard as was sensible.
“I’m really enjoying driving in these mixed conditions—maybe that has something to do with my background in rally.”
Krognes brought the car home in 7th place, a result not reflecting the true speed shown during the fight back. Regardless, valuable data was gathered with which Henkola returns to the Nürburgring on 23 September for the 57. ADAC Reinoldus-Langstreckenrennen, round 7 of the VLN championship.
“We went as fast as we could after the spin and I’m very pleased with our pace. We also got a lot of setup and test work done during the race as we could use the track time to prepare for the last rounds of the championship.
“We all felt a bit sad about the good work from everyone not showing in the final result, but it’s just a matter of time before we have luck on our side and have a smooth race.”
This article was originally published by GTXM.media/GT REPORT as a press release for Matias Henkola. Subscribe to the mailing list (subscribe here to the German mailing list) to receive yours directly in your inbox.