It had been a while since Lance David Arnold last raced on the Nordschleife. Coming back for VLN7, the Duisburger isn’t wasting any time and blasts off into the morning sunset to grab pole position with a lap 2.5 seconds under the once illustrious 8-minute mark and goes on to lead the race for much of his double stint. Second place at the end of the afternoon cannot diminish his strong return. Arnold is back in business.
“I did the pole time and was really happy with that,” the Haribo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 pilot says. “I haven’t been in the car for a long time and that’s a good way to get the confidence back.
“I’m quite happy with today. It’s a really good result for the team. We’re back on the podium after the second place in the beginning of the year. It’s important for us to be back there. The confidence in the car was very good, and that’s the most important thing for us, that everyone can say that the car is running well.”
Teamed up with Daniel Juncadella and Mario Farnbacher, new guys in the Haribo Racing team, it’s up to veteran Arnold to kick off the race with a double stint. There’s no hanging back for the former AMG and Bentley works driver: Manthey Porsche racers Michael Christensen and Kévin Estre are pushing hard for the lead.
“The start and my double stint were really tough. Usually, after one or two laps when you find your rhythm, you can stay at that level. To say that you can relax is the wrong description, but you can cool down and do a clean job. But, I had the yellow Porsche in my mirrors for like two hours.
“I can’t see any yellow Porsches anymore for the next two weeks.
“But, I’m happy, because when you fight with such talented guys, it’s always fun. You’re pushing like hell, always give 100-percent every lap, playing with each other.”
After Arnold wrapped up his nearly 2-hour long double stint, it wasn’t all smiles as he had lost a lot of ground outside of his own fault.
“I wasn’t completely happy when I got out of the car, though. This was because of a yellow flag situation: sometimes you have bad luck, sometimes they have bad luck.
“There were a lot of accidents on track. Of course, the most important thing for me is that everyone is safe, especially the rescue teams. For that, we have the Code 60 where you can go 60 kilometres an hour while you’re still 300 metres away from the accident.
“The problem I had was that the car in front of me was going 30, 35 kilometres an hour, and in my mirrors I see the Manthey Porsche closing a gap of 16 seconds in this yellow zone. That’s bullshit. We were doing the same lap times and when you’re in a shit situation like this, you can’t do anything.
“That’s why I was a little bit pissed. But maybe next time Manthey has the same problem, so it evens out.”
While Arnold controlled the race for the first two stints, it was Manthey Racing who took over the lead for the remainder of the race when a flat tyre threw the Porsche squad off their planned strategy. The sudden change turned out to be a blessing in disguise as they went on to take the victory unthreatened.
Arnold can only appreciate the showing of his competitors, while also praising his own team’s performance.
“Porsche had the right strategy. They came in after four laps [into their second stint] and refueled, which I think was the key. They said they had a flat tyre at the Döttinger Höhe, which was the reason why they came in after four laps. It wasn’t a strategic move, it was a flat tyre.
“In the end, they won and we finished in second place, but that’s quite OK for us. I would say they were a little bit better. We had a strong performance, made no mistakes, but they were just better. Maybe it was just one or two seconds per lap, but eventually that’s enough.
“Anyway, they did a great job and it was fun. I enjoyed the race.”