Almost Adam Christodoulou had the win in VLN2, but Rowe Racing played it just a bit smarter. The Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 pilot was one of the frontrunners all day, at one point leading the race until after the final round of pitstops the Rowe BMW filtered into the lead, leaving Christodoulou and team-mates Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Dirk Müller to celebrate second place in their kickoff to the Nürburgring season.
“I’m really happy,” says Christodoulou. “It’s a perfect start to the season and I’m looking to try and beat that by one position next month in the ‘24’. Let’s see if we can write history and be the first British driver to win it twice—that’s the challenge.”
To do that, preparation is everything. While for most teams that began in earnest with the first VLN race of the season, Black Falcon waited one more race.
“Generally, the weather in VLN1 is normally not that kind, so we decided that we’d give it a miss. As it turned out, it ended up being a beautiful day, just very cold. So, maybe that was a little missed opportunity there, but we’ll be here for the 24 Hour Qualifying Race and we’ve also got some private tests coming up.”
After winning the 2016 ‘N24’, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams returned to the Nordschleife the next year to try and make it two in a row for the Affalterbacher brand. That didn’t work out, as Christodoulou finished best AMG in fifth place and never stood a real chance throughout the weekend.
“We’ve been working really hard since last year. The 2017 ‘24 Hours’ was really tough for us, we didn’t get the results we wanted. We’ve been working very hard over the winter with AMG, the team and all the drivers to make sure we’re back fighting for the 24 Hours this year.
“We’ve still got a few more tests and races to go to before the 24 Hours. It’s just one of those things—we need to keep chipping away and make sure we give ourselves the best opportunity for the 24.”
For the AMG works driver himself, that means getting the best out of himself both mentally and physically.
“It’s all about fitness. Of course, the 24 Hours is always very tough; you end up aching a few days after the race. We can do up to three-hour stints and that’s very tough on the body. It’s very important to continue our training.
“Also, the thing with four or five fast drivers is that we’re able to egg each other on all the time. There’s always one driver who’s quicker on one section of the track, so that means going through the data and videos religiously and understanding where you can get these little advantages.
“Working together with three super fast guys just eggs you on even more to better yourself.
“The team prepped the cars all the way through the winter, went to the Dubai 24 Hours. Black Falcon has obviously worked very hard. We’re feeling good at the moment, we just gotta see how the next race goes and prepare ourselves best for the 24 Hours.”
The rest of the season is also already planned out for Christodoulou. Although he’s not racing any full championship seasons this year, he won’t be out of work either.
“This year is a little bit different. I’m not doing a full season in anything this year, instead doing selected Blancpain GT, British GT and hopefully a few more Creventic races. Plus, I’ll do the VLN and Nürburgring 24 Hours. So, no full seasons, but still plenty of racing.
“It’s just sort of how this year has planned out. I’m still working all the time in the background to see if there’s more I can do.
“I work with a lot of drivers as well, doing a little bit of management and looking after a few young drivers and some gentleman drivers who have just come into motorsports and trying to get the best out of their weekend.
“Last year I joined in halfway in the British GT season with Richard Neary and Team Abba. This year, he’s decided to do the Britcar championship and for this he only needs one driver. I’ll be working with him during the season anyway to make sure he gets the best out of his weekends and maybe we’ll come back next year for the British.
“Generally, I’m at the race track every weekend working or just prepping myself. I’m not one for sitting around and doing nothing; I always need to be doing something.
“Every year is different. In racing there are no guarantees: you’re only as good as your last result, and today is a great start for the European season.”