With his fourth, unexpected last-minute victory in VLN9, Patrick Assenheimer secured the title in the Rowe Speed-Trophäe for his #6 Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3. The win in the 44. DMV Münsterlandpokal curtailed a season more successful than the German driver had ever dared to dream of at the start of the year.
Co-driver Maro Engel went into the final laps in fifth position, only to come out with a shocking win after the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R had an accident on the final lap.
“I thought we just had the chance to go for second place,” Patrick Assenheimer described the nervous final moments of the race. “I told the team I didn’t think we’d be fifth – maybe second or third, or the car crashes! I don’t know, but Maro for sure wouldn’t stay in fifth, the gap to second place was only a few seconds. Then we were in second position, and I just came back into the pit garage when the team asked if I had heard. ‘No, what?’ I asked. ‘The Porsche crashed’, they said. ‘But let’s be quiet because we can also still crash in the last half lap!’ I really enjoyed it when Maro came over the finish line.”
The day started rather rough and tough for the Black Falcon crew, however, as a collision in qualifying gave the mechanics extra work before the start and then engine overheating problems troubled the Mercedes-AMG GT3s, to which there was no escape for Assenheimer either. The driver from Heilbronn had to make an unscheduled pitstop at the end of the first lap to remove the leaves that suffocated his front radiator.
“It was a shame that we had this problem,” Assenheimer continued. “The initial problem was that the safety car was very slow, that made it difficult to warm up the tyres. At Kesselchen there were so many leaves and I tried to avoid it by not warming up the tyres anymore. It worked insofar that we could do one lap. But Adam Christodoulou had the same problem, he was on pole position, and due to the leaves thrown up by the safety car he had to come into the pits at the end of the GP track – he couldn’t even do one lap. I had the luck I was able to do one lap because I was really focused on avoiding an overheating engine, but it didn’t work well enough to make it to our first normal pitstop.
“The early pitstop helped compared to our sister car, but in the end, we had to do one more pitstop which didn’t help. Maybe we did have some luck with Code 60s a few times because we were driving completely offset to the frontrunners, maybe that was the luck that we were first in the end – P2 under normal circumstances.”
The win in the season finale gave Assenheimer and Black Falcon their fourth win of the year, the only ones to accomplish more than a single win in 2019 – more than Assenheimer bargained for when he joined Black Falcon at the start of the season.
“You hope a lot at the beginning of the season, but you never know how it’ll end because the Nordschleife is a very special track. In any lap you can crash or have a Code 60 or something stupid, and that makes it really crazy. Like we saw, the Manthey was far in front of us so we wouldn’t have caught it. It was luck. Four victories this year is perfect!
“Second place in the championship in Blancpain GT, and in our first year in SP9-Pro in VLN we won the Speed-Trophäe for the team. It’s been a very good year, let’s go for next year!”