Walkenhorst Motorsport won the first VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series race of the year. David Pittard and Mikkel Jensen raced the BMW M6 GT3 to victory in the 51. Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy after the then-leading Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Patrick Assenheimer and Maro Engel was hit with a penalty in the final lap.
VLN1: QUALIFYING REPORT | MID-RACE REPORT | NOTEBOOK | GALLERY | INTERVIEW DAVID PITTARD, PT.I | INTERVIEW DAVID PITTARD, PT.II | ONBOARD VIDEOS
The second pitstop window opened around the midway point. While most frontrunners made their second pitstop after 12 and 13 laps, Assenheimer went one lap further before handing the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 to Maro Engel for the remainder of the race.
However, it was Mikkel Jensen who appeared from the pitstop window leading the race, continuing his stint in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 to build up a healthy 20-plus second lead.
Behind the PlayStation-coloured BMW, Engel held second place with Fabian Schiller in the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 close behind him in third before Schiller had to let Engel go.
The final round of pitstops arrived late as teams tried to stretch their stints as long as possible to make optimal use of the shortened minimum pitstop times as the end neared.
Schiller was the first of the top three drivers to blink, the GetSpeed Mercedes’ servicing coming after completing 21 laps and with 49 minutes to go. The young driver from Bonn was trusted by the team for a final attempt to take third place from the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 raced by Michele Beretta.
With 22 laps in the bag, Jensen brought the Walkenhorst BMW into the pits for the final time to hand back over to David Pittard.
Despite being the last man to make it to the pits – coming in after 23 laps – Maro Engel couldn’t profit from a shorter pitstop. The gap that Jensen had created in the third hour and maintained by Pittard on his outlap was enough for the Walkenhorst squad to keep the lead. That gap, however, had shrunken to only a handful of seconds when Engel rejoined the race, reduced to a tenth within a lap and on the 25th and penultimate lap reversed when Engel overtook Pittard on the Grand Prix course.
Normally, that would’ve settled the race: Pittard couldn’t stick with the Mercedes-AMG as Engel set the fastest lap of the race and when the chequers flew the gap had grown to 10 seconds.
Unfortunately for the Haupt Racing Team, while Engel was making his last round over the Nürburgring, word came from race control that the #6 Mercedes-AMG would have 37 seconds added to its race time for cutting its pitstop two seconds too short. That gave Walkenhorst Motorsport the victory and left Haupt Racing Team with second place in what could’ve been a winning debut.
Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed’s Fabian Schiller, Maximilian Buhk and Raffaele Marciello grabbed the final spot on the podium after Schiller chased down Phoenix Racing pilot Michele Beretta into the final lap. A broken steering after a last-lap collision with a backmarker cost the Audi team third place as Beretta came crawling over the finish line in seventh place.
Coming home in fourth place was René Rast in the #32 Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 he shared with Robin Frijns and Nico Müller, with the #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Nick Catsburg and Philipp Eng finishing in fifth.
Please consider making a donation so we can keep bringing you our best content from the racetrack.