The VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series is starting up again after a long off-season that unexpectedly started already last summer when the final races of the season following the Nürburgring 24 Hours were cancelled.
2021 will see the return of a regular nine-race schedule, provided we don’t see any more cancellations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
➤ Just after Christmas, Walkenhorst Motorsport announced it would again bring three BMW M6 GT3s to the Nordschleife. Now we also know the line-ups for two of the three cars. Christian Krognes and David Pittard return on the team’s #34 BMW alongside Ben Tuck. The young Brit makes his GT3 debut after a successful season aboard the Walkenhorst BMW M4 GT4 in the DTM Trophy where he finished third in the championship with one race win. Tuck joined Walkenhorst in 2019, starting his Nürburgring career in the BMW M235i Racing Cup.
➤ You can read our interview with Tuck HERE, where he talks about his path to GT3 and the challenges that lay ahead.
➤ Entered in the #35 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 is a mix of two young talents and one very accomplished driver. Bringing decades of experience is Jörg Müller, who steps back into a GT3 after a season working mainly as a race engineer for Walkenhorst. With 2021 being the final season for the M6, it brings everything full circle for the German who also was the very first to drive the M6 back in 2015. He will help young drivers Mario von Bohlen and Sami-Matti Trogen get to grips with the high-performance GT3.
➤ The GT4 class sees a new manufacturer enter the fray. Having tried to bring the Alpine A110 GT4 to the Nürburgring since the car was first announced, Waldow Performance was finally able to put the program together for 2021. The Renault dealer and tuner from Rheinbach is the first to enter the car at the Nordschleife and the first to put the car through its paces in endurance racing. Max Lamesch, Andreas Patzelt and Janis Waldow are nominated to race, with experienced GT3 pilot Steve Jans joining for selected races. In addition to the Alpine, Waldow also enters a Renault Megane 3 RS (#493, driven by Carsten Erpenbach and Ralf Wiesner) as well as a Megane 4 RS in the VT2 class.
➤ Falken Tire is expanding its involvement in the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series by becoming the series’ main sponsor. Similar to the Japanese tyre manufacturer’s sponsorship in the ADAC Total 24-Hours Race at the Nürburgring, the Falken logo will be brandished on the front fenders of all cars. Schnabl Engineering also returns to run the brand’s two Porsche 991.2 GT3Rs.
➤ Max Kreuse Racing is also part of Falken Tire‘s expansion at the Nordschleife as both parties continue their partnership that began last year. The Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR team of professional football player and international Max Kreuse and WTCR race winner Benjamin Leuchter returns to the SP3T class racing on Falken tyres and in Falken Tire colours. In addition to a return to the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series, the team will start its first 24 Hours of the Nürburgring.
➤ Speedbeat Motorsport has called quits on its racing endeavours. The team around local racer Beat Schmitz stated “private reasons” for the team’s withdrawal. During its five years at the Nordschleife, Speedbeat Motorsport solely entered a BMW 390L nicknamed ‘Gisela’ and adorned her with stickers from the now defunct Pascha Nightclub in Köln.
➤ For the fourth year in a row, Hella Pagid is title sponsor of Racing one as the team embarks on its second season with the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo in the SP9/GT3 Am class. Last year, drivers Christian Kohlhaas, Nikolaj Rogivue and Stephan Köhler raced to three victories and the championship title in the Am class. The team also has entries in the DTM Trophy as well as the ADAC GT4 Germany planned.
➤ 10Q Racing Team will be back at the Nürburgring in 2021 for the 24-hour race and selected VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series races. The team of Thomas Zabel, Daniela Hauer and Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing driver Kenneth Heyer made its GT3 debut last year in the Nürburgring 24 Hours with drivers Heyer, Daniel Juncadella, Sebastian Asch and Thomas Jäger. Despite a strong showing throughout the weekend, the crew failed to finish due to a technical malfunction and subsequent accident. Plans to enter international races such as the Spa 24 Hours and Intercontinental GT Challenge races have been pushed to 2022 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
➤ Andernach-based BMW Team RMG is taking the reins of the BMW Junior Team this year, bringing a BMW M6 GT3 to the Nordschleife for Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen. In parallel to its racing activities, the former DTM squad is also in the final phase of the development program of the BMW M4 GT3.
➤ The end has now really come for Schnitzer Motorsport. After half a century racing with BMW, the team is selling off its assets and closing shop. The news comes two months after BMW announced it would not renew its works contract with the Schnitzer family-run team as part of a larger downscaling of motorsport activities.
➤ Making the switch from Audi to Porsche for its first attempt at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, Rutronik Racing has signed Porsche works driver Romain Dumas, Porsche Junior Julien Andlauer, and Black Falcon Junior graduates Tobias Müller and Tristan Viidas. The team comes from the ADAC GT Masters where it took the 2019 championship in its first try.
➤ Tobias Müller was signed after impressing Porsche Customer racing representative and Le Mans 24 Hours winner Marc Lieb during the 2020 VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series season. Read our interview with the Nürburgring local about his upcoming GT3 debut.
➤ Five months on from the last race of the season, Schnitzelalm.de Racing was given the BMW M240i Racing Cup class win in the 2020 Nürburgring 24 Hours. A timing error had put the #237 BMW one lap down, which despite the team’s protest during the race was not corrected until recently.
➤ Two classes in the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series are scrapped for 2021. The first is the once-stacked V2 class (for cars with naturally aspirated engines between 1,620 and 1,800cc), which during the 2000s was the most populated class and gave rise to a number of champions. However, numbers began dwindling during the last decade resulting in a single entry in 2020. The disused V1 class for engines up to 1,620 cc is also removed, making the V3 class the designated category for all cars with naturally aspirated engines of up to two litres. The other class that is gone this year is SP1 for Nürburgring specials with engines up to 1.4L naturally aspirated.
➤ While no new classes are added for the new season, a number of changes have been made to current single-make classes. The CUPX class for KTM X-Bows is broken up into a subclass for the GT4-based X-Bow, and a subclass for the brand-new KTM X-Bow GTX. CUP5 or BMW Cup sees the ousting of BMW M240i Racing Cup machinery in favour of the BMW M2 CS. Teams who chose to continue with the M240i Racing Cup can do so in the SP8T class.
➤ Gentleman driver, airplane pilot and daredevil John Shoffner is reducing his racing program in 2021. The reason is his selection by SpaceX for the Axiom Space-1 program, serving as the backup crew pilot. The American will undergo a training program to prepare him for a possible space mission. Ax1 is a SpaceX Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station (ISS) scheduled to launch in January 2022. Shoffner and his partner Janine Hill have been long-time fixtures at the Nürburgring, having raced the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with GetSpeed Performance for the past two years.
➤ The 2021 season gets underway on 20 March with the pre-season test before the season-opening race on 27 March. FULL SCHEDULE.
➤ Keep track of the 2021 VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series entry list on our dedicated page listing all the announced GT3 entries.
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