Following a post-race penalty for BS Competition, Mahle Racing inherited victory in the third race of the VLN Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series. The Audi R8 LMS GT3 raced by Agustin Canapino and Alex Arana recovered from a first-lap incident which threw the team down the field to bring home a first VLN Online win. Walkenhorst Motorsport finished second, making David Pittard the best-finishing real-life racer, followed by Team BMW Bank.
After a mostly clean start, Agustin Canapino held the lead in the #186 Mahle Racing Team Audi R8 LMS GT3. At Mutkurve, however, he was tapped in the back by Philipp Eng in the #189 BS Competition BMW Z4 GT3 sending the Audi into a spin while Eng shot into the lead. Edoardo Mortara was the victim of another first-lap incident as the Swiss driver turned into Fabian Schiller’s #2 Vodafone Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the high-speed Tiergarten kink and lost control. The heavily damaged #109 Williams Esports Audi R8 LMS GT3 was forced into the pits for repairs.
Eng gave the lead away again on the opening lap at the Kleine Karussell as he ran wide. Philip Ellis in the #48 HTP Winward Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 came out of the first lap leading with Eng on his heels. The BMW works driver made full use of the slipstream at Döttinger Höhe to retake first place by the end of the second lap. Mikkel Jensen in de #35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 followed closely but could only look on as his real-life competitors fought it out for the digital lead.
In the laps that followed, Eng and Ellis departed from the rest of the field as Schiller overtook Jensen for third. Ellis took back first place half an hour into the race with a similar overtake to Eng’s pass for the lead on the second lap, but again the Austrian rebutted, returning the favour immediately going into the first turn. The same scenario played out a lap later, but this time Ellis did just enough to successfully defend his position in the first corner.
An early first pitstop for BS Competition brought the advantage back to the BMW crew with Alexander Voß having taken over the car for the middle hour, while Ellis’ HTP Winward team – now with Marvin Dienst at the helm of the Mercedes-AMG GT3 – had dropped back to fourth behind both Walkenhorst BMWs.
The different pitstop strategies that were playing out couldn’t keep BS Competition’s third driver Laurin Heinrich from racing the BMW back into the lead in the third and final stint. Although Team BMW Bank had gotten in front of the BMW after the final pitstop for the BS Competition team, the gap was too small for the tyre and fuel saving BMW of Kay Kaschube as he was soon overtaken by Heinrich. With nine minutes remaining the Team BMW Bank Z4 GT3 made its final stop, handing second place to the Mahle Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Agustin Canapino and Alex Arana – who had their race turned upside down by the first-lap accident at Mutkurve – and third to the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 of David Pittard, Sam Michaels and Scott Michaels. Team BMW Bank crossed the finish line in fourth place after a last-lap overtake on the Vodafone Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3.
After the finish BS Competition was handed a 60-second penalty for not changing all tyres during the car’s last pitstop which dropped the team back to sixth position and moved Mahle Racing to the win, Walkenhorst Motorsport to second, and Team BMW Bank back onto the podium for third.
Class victories went to the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of VRS Coanda Simsport drivers Joshua Rogers and Mitchell de Jong (Cup 2 for Porsche 911 GT3 Cups), CoRe SimRacing’s Sindre Setsaas and Samuel Libeert (Cup 3 for Porsche Caymans) and SimRC trio Jürgen Frank, Felix Luding and Johannes Maiworm (TCR class for Audi RS3 TCRs).
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