Dutch duo Nick Catsburg and Stef Dusseldorp gave Rowe Racing its first VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series victory since March last year. The drivers of the #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 executed the team’s conventional pitstop strategy to perfection to beat Walkenhorst Motorsport and Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArena who both opted for a more daring strategy in the 43. RCM DMV Grenzlandrennen.
Rarely did Nick Catsburg and Stef Dusseldorp get tangled up in fights, instead hitting all their marks and relying on the team’s strategy of one pitstop for every seven to eight laps as the drivers from Gelderland rotated through their driving duties. When all pitstop strategies were played out, there was no more stopping Rowe Racing as Catsburg could drive to the chequered flag with a 21-second gap.
Before Rowe Racing announced itself as a challenger, pole sitter Fabian Schiller in the #23 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Dennis Olsen in the #19 KCMG Porsche 991.2 GT3R stole the show in the first hour as they fought an all-out battle for the lead on the damp but drying Nordschleife. The lead changed hands many times as both youngsters made use of each other’s slipstream on the long straights and high speed climbs of the Eifel circuit.
For Schiller, however, it was never a battle for the outright win, but rather a moment to shine as he tried to put Am drivers John Shoffner and Janine Hill in the best possible position for their stints to successfully win the SP9/GT3 Am class with tenth place overall.
Another star of the opening stint was David Pittard who chose cut slicks to start the race on. From seventh on the grid, the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Pittard, Christian Krognes and Mikkel Jensen, quickly moved up to third before making its first pitstop to change to slicks after only a handful of laps.
Joining Walkenhorst into the pits after just three laps was the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArena. The Haupt Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Patrick Assenheimer in the first two stints and Dominik Baumann and Dirk Müller for the last two stints, joined the Walkenhorst BMW at the front fighting for what was then first place.
But, while Walkenhorst Motorsport and Haupt Racing were at each other’s throats and exchanging the lead throughout much of the race, Rowe Racing was always looming. As Walkenhorst Motorsport and Haupt Racing had made their opening pitstops after just a few laps, their final stop would also come early. This allowed Rowe Racing to stay ahead with a later stop and therefor shorter minimum pitstop time. When Catsburg exited the pits for the last time, he was far enough ahead to steer the BMW to victory, leaving Walkenhorst Motorsport to finish second and Haupt Racing third.
KCMG scored its best result so far with the #18 Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Romain Dumas, Alexandre Imperatori and Dennis Olsen taking fourth place followed by the #20 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Fred Vervisch, Mattia Drudi and Markus Winkelhock in fifth.
The first of the four remaining VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series races this year is scheduled for 29th August when the Rowe 6h ADAC Ruhr-Pokal-Rennen takes place.