Patrick Assenheimer added yet another VLN victory to his resume last weekend in the Rowe 6 Stunden ADAC Ruhr-Pokal. The Black Falcon driver took his second consecutive Nürburgring victory in his own Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 to become the winningest driver of the season so far with two wins.
With Manuel Metzger in Korea for the Blancpain GT World Challenge, Maro Engel substituted for his Mercedes-AMG co-works driver. Engel, too, proved to be a successful combination with Assenheimer as it ended with a back-to-back win for the #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“Last time I hoped that we could maybe return to the podium, and maybe even win the 6-hour race, but here at the Nordschleife you never know” Patrick Assenheimer says. “It’s the Green Hell: You first have to survive, and then you can see where you stand.
“We knew for sure we had the pace to go for the podium and that was the target. It’s a nice feeling and I hope for more of this this year, but you cannot plan for regular podiums and wins. The target is to get to the podium every race and let’s see what we can make possible.”
The first hour of the race saw Engel go at it with the Black Falcon sister car of Adam Christodoulou – nail-biting moments for Assenheimer as he watched the tv screens in the garage.
“It’s always difficult to not be in the car and see on tv how they are fighting, especially the start. I prefer to be at the wheel myself and have it in my own hands rather than someone else’s! I know that Maro is a really good driver and it’s normally safe, but you never know what can happen.
“It was a great fight for motorsports in general, I think everyone enjoyed it. Also, for the sponsors it was a good situation to see the cars fighting like this!
“On the other hand, it didn’t help to set fast lap times and get away from the Audi and other cars – but it was good motorsports, and this is why we love it. If you win with both cars, everything is perfect, but if you crash it’s not ideal but that’s also part of motorsports.
“I liked it and would like for some more!”
Assenheimer’s VLN win came a week after Spa 24 Hours success: Racing Black Falcon’s Silver Cup-entered Mercedes-AMG GT3, he finished third in class. The twice-around-the-clock was no obstacle going into VLN’s longest race of the year, the 27-year-old says.
“Spa was really difficult. I was driving for 8 out of the 18.5 hours. I got very luck, though! I went to sleep at 2:30, shortly before the red flag. The team told me to be back at 8:30. When the alarm rang it was all silence: ‘What the hell?’ I watched the live stream and saw the red flag, checked WhatsApp and saw there would be no start until 11:30 and Gabriele Piana had to start. So, back to sleep again! I had a good rest despite it being a tough race. Without a red flag maybe you’d need an extra day to get back into your sleeping rhythm.”
In 2018, Assenheimer won his first VLN race. It was the accumulation of 7 years honing his race craft at the Nürburgring, having begun his racing career in the Eifel with his family’s Team AutoArena Motorsport in the lower ranks of the championship. After years with HTP Motorsport he joined Black Falcon at the start of 2019 and has been vastly improving his skills by learning from the best of the best.
“It’s very important for my development as a race car driver to race with Metzger and Engel. I think I’m not at a bad level, but you can see the difference between Maro and Manuel: They have different styles so you can look at the data and see where they are gaining on you and where you might be faster on some parts. They are faster 80-percent of the time, but it’s always just a little bit, like tenths – it’s not like they are very much faster in the corners. You get stronger and stronger from seeing the different driving styles, the meetings with the drivers where they tell you what they do and why they do it. For me it’s very important to drive with drivers like them and to develop myself.
“I have good teammates, a perfect team, and I’m very happy. The efforts are starting to show now. To finish with both cars on the podium is perfect and we did it by our own strength.”