➤ Walkenhorst Motorsport won the first VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series race of the year. Until the final minutes, however, it looked like it was going to be Haupt Racing Team that would grab victory until a time penalty for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 was announced. Crossing the finish line 10 seconds behind Maro Engel, David Pittard had plenty of time left to be scored the winner in the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 he shared with Mikkel Jensen. It was Walkenhorst’s first win since last year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race.
➤ Click HERE for the full race results.
➤ The 51. Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy was the first VLN race under the new name Nürburgring Endurance Series or – in German – Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie. The name has been chosen to better reflect what the championship is all about. VLN, short for Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring, will remain in use to refer to the organisation of motorsport clubs that in 1977 combined their separate races into one big championship.
➤ In the days and weeks before the race, fans were strongly encouraged to not come to the Nürburgring to watch the race. Big events in Germany are still prohibited and with no practical means of completely sealing the 24-kilometre Nürburgring – much of the track runs over public ground – the future of race events at the Nordschleife during the pandemic was partly in the hands of fans’ compliance. VLN thanked the fans after the event for watching the race at home and not coming to the track.
➤ Maro Engel qualified the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArena on pole position with a time of 7:59.191. It was newly established Haupt Racing Team’s very first official session. #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 driver Michele Beretta was the only other driver able to dive under the 8-minute mark, missing pole position by 0.537 seconds.
➤ The fastest lap of the race also went to Maro Engel who managed a 8:06.464 on the penultimate lap.
➤ While new on paper, Haupt Racing Team is far from inexperienced: the team has retained all the personnel of Black Falcon’s recently cancelled professional GT3 program. Hubert Haupt, owner of newly established HRT, was one of Black Falcon’s most loyal drivers.
➤ Porsche and VLN have extended their partnership for three more years. The German sportscar manufacturer is with over 200 victories the most successful brand at the Nordschleife with Porsches being represented all throughout the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series from the top SP9/GT3 class with regular factory entries, all the way down to the production classes where hobby racers bring their race-prepared cars. In between stand two Porsche-exclusive cup classes: Cup 2 for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup machinery and the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey Racing. Porsche is also extending its support for the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series.
➤ Due to the complicated outdoors pitlane introduced as a measure against COVID-19, all penalties awarded during the race would be converted to time penalties to be added to teams’ total race times. This prevented teams from losing unreasonable amounts of time just passing through the pits alone. Instead, the conversion to a time penalty given within the last 70 minutes of a normal race would be applied to any penalty handed out: a stop-and-go penalty was converted to 35 seconds extra race time whereas a drive-through would cost a team 30 seconds.
➤ 2 seconds were what cost Haupt Racing Team a winning debut. The team sent Maro Engel out of the pits just a little too early, earning the AutoArena-coloured Mercedes-AMG GT3 a 35+2-second time penalty.
➤ Phoenix Racing team owner Ernst Moser put blame on one of the GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3s – presumably the #23 – for the #15 Audi R8 LMS GT3’s final lap drama. Speaking to Motorsport-Total.com, Moser described how Michele Beretta quickly closed in on the AMG between Bergwerk and the Karussell and arriving at Hohe Acht in an attempt to lap the slower car, the two collided, resulting in a broken steering for the Audi. The accident cost Phoenix Racing a place on the podium which went to the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Fabian Schiller who had been chasing the Italian through the Green Hell for several laps.
➤ After an extensive development program in 2019 including several races at the Nürburgring, the Toyota GR Supra GT4 was homologated earlier this year but had to wait a bit longer to make its official debut. That moment finally came this weekend at the hands of Toyota specialist team Ring Racing. The 430bph-strong Supra finished fifth in the SP10/GT4 class.
➤ The SP10/GT4 class was a BMW M4 GT4 party. Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport took the win with drivers Michael Schrey, Gabriele Piana and Michael Fischer racing the #192 BMW to a comfortable victory in front of the #1 Pixum CFN Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 of last year’s VLN champions David Griessner and Yannick Fübrich with their new teammate Florian Naumann. FK Performance Motorsport completed the BMW podium.
➤ David Griessner and Yannick Fübrich also returned to the BMW M240i Racing Cup single make class where they laid claim on the VLN title last year setting forth their winning streak with victory aboard the #650 Pixum CFN Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M240i Racing Cup shared with Francesco Merlini and Sindre Setsaas.
➤ Franz Konrad has stated in an interview with Pitwalk.de that his team won’t be at the start of the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series and Nürburgring 24 Hours this year as long as he would have to run the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 out of his own pocket. Konrad Motorsport’s main sponsors have all put their contracts on hold and without pay drivers to cover the 40-50.000 euro cost for a race in the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series and even 350-380.000 euro for the Nürburgring 24 Hours, any racing would have to be paid for by Konrad himself. Originally, Lamborghini works drivers Marco Mapelli and Franck Perrera together with Michele Di Martino and Axcil Jefferies were scheduled to race for Konrad.
➤ Another absentee because of the COVID-19 pandemic was Christian Krognes. The Norwegian was unable to make it to the Nürburgring to race the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 due to his country’s mandatory 10-day quarantine after coming back. Krognes expects to be back at the Nürburgring in two weeks for the VLN2+3 double header.
➤ A shoulder injury was looking to sideline John Shoffner for the Nürburgring season opener, however, on Saturday morning the American decided to jump in the #23 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 and race. Shoffner, who raced together with longtime partner Janine Hill and GetSpeed team owner Adam Osieka, finished 18th.
➤ It was a successful weekend overall for GetSpeed Performance. The team from nearby Meuspath appeared at the start with three Mercedes-AMG GT3s with two of those teams showing themselves at the pointy end of the field: the #2 factory-backed Mercedes-AMG of Fabian Schiller, Raffaele Marciello and Maximilian Buhk finished third after leading the race in the second hour, while the #8 Pro-Am of François Perrodo, Emmanuel Collard and Matthieu Vaxivière finished 12th overall along with second place in the Pro-Am class. Vaxivière had his eye on the lead during the first laps of the race but came just short against the increasingly competitive Patrick Assenheimer.
➤ First of the non-GT3s to take the chequered flag was the #350 Black Falcon Team Identica Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup MR. Entered in the SPPRO category, drivers Marek Böckmann, Tobias Müller and Carlos Rivas piloted the grey-silver machine to 15th overall and just missing out on finishing the race on the lead lap.
➤ Mühlner Motorsport swept both victories in the SP7 and Cayman GT4 Trophy classes. Leading the charge for the third year is Moritz Kranz. Co-driving the #62 Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup with Marcel Hoppe and Peter Terting, Kranz finished 19th overall and second best non-GT3, and 27th overall with Thorsten Jung and Peter Terting in the #979 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS.
➤ After one round the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Championship standings are led by Carsten Knechtges, Marcel Manheller and Janis Waldow. The trio took the win in the VT2 class with 19 cars entered, earning them 9.74 points.
➤ Next VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series race weekend will be a double header. On Saturday 11 July the 60. ADAC Reinoldus-Langstreckenrennen will be held, followed on Sunday by the 52. ADAC Barbarossapreis. This is VLN’s attempt at making up for the cancelled races earlier this year. The revised calendar is one short of the planned nine races.