With a bit of luck but mostly a flawless race, AutoArena Motorsport won the eighth VLN race of the season. In the 50. ADAC Barbarossapreis the Mercedes-AMG GT3 team made up for a lackluster 2018 Nürburgring season with a hard-fought victory. In the finale it was Dominik Baumann who held off the charging Edoardo Mortara for the team’s and his own very first VLN race win.

RACE REPORTGALLERY | AUDI R8 LMS GT3 EVO 2019 WALLPAPER | INTERVIEWS : RENGER VAN DER ZANDE

“The last time I won here was at the 6-hour Qualification Race,” says Baumann. “This was my first VLN race win.

“I did some VLN races as preparation for the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring in the last four years. It always feels good to be here. I like the Nürburgring, the track is always amazing. When I’m here I always enjoy it and today the weather was also great—just a perfect day for racing.”

After following the dominating SPS automotive-performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Renger van der Zande and Edoardo Mortara for much of the race, the tables were turned with half an hour to go when the Nürburgring newcomers got slapped with a penalty.

“We had a really good race. The start was good, Patrick [Assenheimer] had a great first two stints and I did the last two stints. Everything went perfectly.

“The penalty for SPS was too bad for them but great for us—we’ll take it. Otherwise it would’ve been impossible to win the race. They made a mistake and we’ll take it, it’s been a good race for us.

“The team told me the number 10 car got a 1-second stop-and-go penalty. I thought I could take a bit less risk because they’d be far behind me, but then my engineer told me he’ll be 3 seconds behind me when he leaves the box. ‘Oh fuck, I have to push, I have to push!’

“I knew it was ‘Edo’ in the car. We talked a bit yesterday, joked around… I knew he’d try to push and give everything to force me into a mistake or make something happen in traffic. But the last two laps I pushed maximum, gave it 105-percent. Even in traffic I took the risk because it’s a win or nothing. Everything went well. In the last lap I lost 2 seconds in traffic, but on the overall speed I think we had the same pace. He was 4 seconds away, which was good for us.”

AutoArena Motorsport’s success came on the back of a change in tyre manufacturers: Hankook made way for Michelin rubber, the weapon of choice for many top teams. Baumann believes the new brand might’ve played a role in the big step forward for the Patrick Assenheimer-led team.

“This was my first time with Patrick on the Nordschleife. We did the ADAC GT Masters race two weeks ago at Hockenheim. I think it’s a good combination, especially here at the Nürburgring where he’s really good.

“Patrick did a lot of VLN races this year with a different tyre manufacturer. We switched to another one so maybe that’s a small reason it was a good race.”