Maro Engel and Patrick Assenheimer recovered from a first-lap pitstop to snatch victory in VLN9 – the 44. DMV Münsterlandpokal – for Black Falcon Team AutoArena after last lap drama for erstwhile leaders Manthey Racing robbed them of victory. The #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3’s win was its fourth of the season, earning it enough outright points to clinch the Rowe Speed-Trophäe.
In the overall title race, Yannick Fübrich and David Griessner secured the VLN title for Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport after a storming victory in the #650 BMW M240i Racing Cup in the CUP5 category secured them the crown over their team-mates in the V4 class-winning BMW 325i.
Befitting a season-ending race, there was drama from the very start as Adam Christodoulou – in the polesitting Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 – lost more than two minutes after leaves kicked up by the pace car on the green flag lap clogged up the car’s radiator and caused it to overheat, forcing the Brit to pit before the end of the first lap.
The same befell Engel in the sister #6 as he was forced to pit at the end of the first lap also with an overheating engine.
Their misfortune allowed the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 started by Frank Stippler to inherit the lead, under pressure from Fabian Schiller in the GetSpeed Performance Pro-Am Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Dirk Werner in the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R.
As the race continued, slightly alternating pit strategies – with crews alternating between seven and eight laps per stint – shook up the order and allowed the #6 to creep back up the top ten as Engel set a blistering pace in the second-half of the four-hour race to be sitting fifth on lap 14 of 28.
Picking his way up the field, Engel came alive in the final two laps. Moving from fifth to second on the penultimate tour round the Nurburgring, the German was staring at a 34-second deficit to Lars Kern in the #911 – which took the lead after the #23 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 lost time when it was taken over by John Shoffner – and seemingly settling for second.
However, a collision with a TCR-spec Audi RS3 at the Karussell caused a front-right puncture to the #911 costing Kern – who had to push to offset a 37-second time penalty that was to be settled at the finish – more than three minutes as he was forced to limp the car home. He ultimately crossed the line in seventh.
While that gifted Engel the lead, he wasn’t entirely comfortable as Patrick Pilet in the #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R finished just a handful of seconds behind in second after trying to come back at Engel having been passed by the Mercedes going onto the last lap.
Third went to the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi, with David Pittard powering the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 into fourth. Pittard stormed his way up through the field after Jody Fannin and Christian Krognes started the car in a remarkable double stint which found the Brit running as high as second for a time, but a slightly differing pit strategy relegated a couple of positions. The team initially lost time in Fannin’s opening stint as he struggled to get heat in the Yokohama tyres in the cooler autumn temperatures.
The true action, though, came slightly further down the order as the VLN title came down to a race-long battle between Pixum Team Adrenalin and the #695 Team AVIA Sorg Rennsport. The two BMW M240is were running nose-to-tail for most of the first three hours, with the former knowing if they took the class win they’d pip their team-mates Philipp Leisen, Danny Brink and Christopher Rink in the Class V4 BMW 325i.
It wasn’t easy for the CUP5 runners though as Yannick Fübrich was forced to fend off repeated attempts for the lead by Sindre Setsaas, with the latter using the slipstream going down to Tiergarten to try and sneak ahead. Setsaas tried the move on a number of laps, with Fübrich getting four wheels into the air as he attacked the kerbs to retain the top spot in class.
The battle continued into the final hour, but faded as Moritz Oberheim lost a handful of positions early in his stint, gifting David Griessner a comfortable run to the flag.
Leisen, Brink and Rink did all they could to snatch the crown away, with a peerless run to the V4 class win, but their points deficit heading into the weekend always had them on the back foot.
UPDATE: After the race, the second-placed Falken Porsche has been penalised 185 seconds for speeding through a Code 60. That’s dropped Patrick Pilet and Sven Müller to seventh overall, and promoted the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW of David Pittard, Jody Fannin and Christian Krognes onto the podium.
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