➤ HTP Motorsport went nearly unopposed in its VLN8 victory. Raffaele Marciello took the lead of the 51. ADAC Barbarossapreis on the second lap and that was that, no one was able to reach the #48 Team Mann-Filter Mercedes-AMG GT3 after that. Maximilian Buhk took over for the second half and easily drove to the chequered flag to complete the four-hour race in 28 laps.
➤ Read our race report of VLN8 HERE.
➤ You can find our full gallery of over 100 photos HERE.
➤ Their VLN8 win was Marciello and Buhk’s first at the Nordschleife. HTP Motorsport last celebrated victory one year ago when Patrick Assenheimer and Dominik Baumann took the win. For Mercedes-AMG it was already its fifth win in a row, with Black Falcon and GetSpeed Performance having taken first in the previous races.
➤ Watch the highlights of the race.
➤ Pole position was earned by David Pittard in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 who set a lap time of 8:15.997. It was already the Brit’s third pole position since scoring his first one in VLN6 last year.
➤ The first start of the race was cut short by a crash in the first starting group. After things already went awry in the first turn, a second accident at the Kurzanbindung – the hairpin that cuts off the Müllenbachschleife – involving the #33 EFP Car Collection by TECE Audi R8 LMS GT3, #162 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT4 and #66 Kappeler Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR triggered a red flag. Black Falcon managed to repair the Mercedes-AMG GT4 and have it ready for the second start. The #80 Huber Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup that together with the #50 Team Équipe Vitesse Audi R8 LMS GT3 was involved in the crash in the first turn also got back on track after a long repair but failed to be classified as it only completed ten laps.
➤ Confusion over the red flag procedure caused a longer delay than necessary. While the second and third starting groups were waiting on the grid for the first group to drive around the Nordschleife and stop at the front of on the grid, the leaders instead turned into pitlane with parc fermé rules ignored. Instead of penalising much if not all of the first starting group, it was decided to completely reboot the starting procedure to allow for all cars to be worked on.
➤ During the first start the #48 Team Mann-Filter Mercedes-AMG GT3 sustained a damaged exhaust. The HTP Motorsport crew, however, was able to fix the car in time for the second start, allowing Raffaele Marciello a do-over. The damage might have cost the ‘Green Mamba’ the victory had the team not been allowed to repair it.
➤ Christian Krognes returned to VLN for the first time since the birth of his daughter. The Norwegian was substituted by Nick Catsburg in the previous two races. Catsburg is back with the BMW squad when he teams up with Krognes for the Intercontinental GT Challenge season finale at Kyalami next month where the duo will again be joined in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 by Mikkel Jensen.
➤ Pole sitter Christian Krognes couldn’t hold on to his first-lap lead as a change of tyres between the two starts left the Yokohama rubber ill-prepared for the warming-up lap, making the tyres wear out much quicker than anticipated. The #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 was overtaken for the lead by Raffaele Marciello in the second lap in the run up to Mutkurve.
➤ Read Christian Krognes’ explanation of the whole ordeal, and how he feels about how comeback weekend, in our interview with him HERE.
➤ Walkenhorst Motorsport’s great effort to bounce back from the poor opening stint was to no avail as the car was disqualified from second place for a technical infringement. The tightening torque of the locking nut on the spring plates, officials explained, wasn’t properly affixed and was able to be loosened by hand, which is not conform the BMW’s homologation.
➤ The #2 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Philip Ellis, #6 Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Manuel Metzger and #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Frank Stippler fought a fierce battle for then-third place during the final stint. But as entertaining it was for the fans, it was just as frustrating for Manuel Metzger. The German finished fourth – third after disqualification of second-placed Walkenhorst – and claimed to have had the pace but not the speed to pass Ellis.
“P3 is given the circumstances is a very good result but given that we had a problem at the pitstop and lost 2 minutes it is a disappointing result,” Manuel Metzger said. “Also, it looked very nice and there was quite a lot of entertainment in this fight in the last hour and half with Ellis and Stippler and Bachler as well at times, but for me it was annoying because I had the way faster car than Ellis but I just couldn’t overtake him as he had damage on the front plus I think they were driving a bit of a different set-up which made his car really quick on the straights. Even in the slipstream I lost and having a better exit at Bergwerk and Galgenkopf I lost two to four car lengths in the slipstream on the straights. That made it impossible to overtake on the straights where it is easier. I was two times alongside at the Grand Prix track but just had the wrong line and I also was two times on his outside approaching Schwedenkreuz but to arrive there with 270 and go around the corner with 250 with two cars does not work there so I decided not to risk the car or a big crash just for P3. There was simply no way around him, so I was very disappointed after the race because it was just P4, then promoted to P3.”
➤ Patrick Assenheimer, winner in his last three VLN starts, couldn’t make it four in a row, finishing third in the car shared with Manuel Metzger. The duo had to forego VLN7: Assenheimer because he was racing with Black Falcon in the Blancpain GT season finale at Barcelona where he finished second in class and secured the same position in the championship; and Metzger because he went to Shanghai for the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia finale where he successfully helped win co-driver Récardo Bruins Choi the title. Metzger himself finished fifth in the championship, having missed one weekend due to injury and another due to his Nürburgring 24 Hours commitment.
➤ An accident suffered in practice on Friday left the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R with significant front end damage unrepairable in time for the race the next day. ‘Grello’ was scheduled to be raced by Matt Campbell and Otto Klohs.
➤ Black Falcon got to try its hands on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo model for 2020. Despite the handicap of starting from the back of the first starting group, additional pitstop time and maximum stints of six laps mandatory for GT3s in the SPX class still awaiting homologation, the team managed to score an impressive eighth place. The car was piloted by Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz.
➤ HTP Motorsport is next up for a spin with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. Maximilian Buhk is one of the drivers to give the new-for-2020 car a go in the VLN season finale.
➤ Friday practice was used by Racing Engineers for a proper test of its newly acquired Audi R8 LMS GT3. The TKL Motorsport-run team replaced its first-generation GT3-based Audi R8 LMS BE for a full blown modern GT3. RaceIng tested the new car on Michelin tyres in preparation of a 2020 schedule that will see the team participate in VLN and the Nürburgring 24 Hours and Qualifying Race, while also looking to expand into the 24H Series and DMV GTC.
➤ The two Hofor Racing by Bonk Motosport BMW M4 GT4s raced in ADAC GT4 Germany made their VLN debut, having contested the Nürburgring 24 Hours earlier this year. It was a successful first outing for both machines, as the Michael Schrey and Marc Ehret-driven #193 BMW M4 GT4 took the win in the SP10/GT4 class with a margin of over a minute.
“I had to fight my way through the other classes before I had a free track after the first two laps and could close the gap to the front,” two-time VLN champion Michael Schrey described the race he started from fifth in class. “We were able to grab the lead with a perfect pitstop and Marc [Ehret] was then able to successfully defend the lead before deciding to get in the slipstream of our sister car with Thomas Jäger at the wheel. He did a great job and was always within striking distance of Thomas. After taking over the cockpit from Marc I returned to the track just in front of Thomas. In the following laps I was able to drive away from him and the rest of our competitors – I certainly had the necessary luck in traffic.”
Schrey’s ADAC GT4 co-driver, 25-year-old Thomas Jäger from Vienna, finished third in the #192 BMW he shared with Michael Fischer, crossing the finish line behind the #162 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Tim Scheerbarth, Tobias Müller and Tristan Viidas. Hofor Racing by Bonk Motosport returns for VLN9.
➤ Black Falcon showed up with a new, aggressive livery for its #57 Black Falcon Porsche 991 GT3R Cup. Although meant to be shipped last week to the USA for the 24H COTA USA, problems with what should’ve been the substitute car for VLN8 meant the team had to rebuilt the 24-hours race-prepared Porsche to fit VLN rules. The stunning new livery is a leftover from that last-minute switch.
➤ Now that the DTM season is over, BMW works driver Sheldon van der Linde got back to racing in GT3 with his first job for the off-season being to assist Falken Motorsports in preparing for the 2020 Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“I enjoyed being back in a GT3 car after a long, long season in DTM”, Sheldon van der Linde said. “But the main reason for this weekend was just to help the guys at Falken develop their tyre a bit better for the 24 Hours next year. It was nice to drive together with Alex [Imperatori] and Peter [Dumbreck], they’re very fast guys, that was a lot of fun. The result wasn’t what we wanted but in the end, like I said, we used it pretty much like a test just like Schnitzer did and I’m pretty sure that Falken are going to develop a tyre very well for next year.”
➤ With yet another win – its 11th in a row – Nett Motorsport secured the title in the SP2T championship. Brothers Joachim and Jürgen Nett and England’s Bradley Philpot piloted the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup TCR to the Peugeot brand’s 250th VLN victory.
➤ As VLN goes into the last round of the year, Yannick Fübrich and David Griessner continue to lead the VLN championship standings with 67.14 points, 5.6 points more than BMW classmates Nico Otto and Lars Peucker in the #666 Team Scheid-Honert Motorsport BMW. The #650 Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M240i Racing Cup duo scored their sixth win of the year in the BMW M240i Racing Cup class which they now lead with 176 points, with Otto and Peucker following 46 points behind. Double points are available for the last race of the season, giving the Scheid-Honert crew a last chance to take the crown. Each driver is allowed to discard one result. It was a weekend to celebrate for Adrenalin-Motorsport anyway, as it became an early champion in the BMW M240i Racing Cup teams’ championship while Griessner ensured himself of the VLN Junior-Trophäe.
➤ In the VLN Produktionswagen-Trophäe youngsters Finn Unteroberdörster and Janis Waldow have taken over the top of the charts. The pilots of the #507 Waldow Performance Renault Mégane RS took the win in the seven-car strong VT2 field, but not before the #510 Mannheller Racing BMW F30 retired from the lead with a technical defect halfway through the race.
➤ The championship for the big boys, the Rowe Speed-Trophäe, is led by #6 Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 normally raced by Patrick Assenheimer and Manuel Metzger. With all of its 150 points collected since VLN3, the Assenheimer-owned car is close to wrapping up the championship. A maximum of 38 points are still available for VLN9 – 35 for the race win and 3, 2 and 1 for the three fastest cars in qualifying – meaning all Black Falcon needs to do to take home the trophy is finish ninth should the #2 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 that runs 26 points behind take second place or qualifies on the front row and finishes third in the race.
➤ The final race of the VLN season is held on 26 October. Last year the 44. DMV Münsterlandpokal was won by the Falken Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3R of Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger.