➤ Aston Martin’s surprise victory came almost three years since its last race at the Nordschleife. In 2018, months after announcing the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, the Brits brought their then GT3 prototype to the penultimate round of the VLN season finishing fourth. It was the only race for the 2018 GT3 model at the long Nürburgring until its successful return last weekend.
➤ The secret to Aston Martin’s win was the clean race Maxime Martin and Nicki Thiim experienced, Nicki Thiim said in an interview with GT REPORT, combined with 8-lap stints to push their final stop as far back as possible, allowing for a shorter minimum pit stop time. Being the last ones of the frontrunners to stop, Martin took over the Vantage from Thiim to bring it out onto the track for the final 42 minutes, 11 seconds ahead of Vincent Kolb in the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3.
➤ By going one lap further until the final pit stop, Phoenix Racing, too, managed to jump the #44 BMW Junior Team who were leading the third hour of the race but stopped two laps before the Aston Martin and one before Phoenix Racing. This sent Vincent Kolb out of the pits seconds ahead of Max Hesse, forcing him into a fierce defensive battle and putting all of the lessons learned from mentor and longtime co-pilot Frank Stippler to good use. Unlike NLS6, Kolb this time managed to stay ahead of his attacker and score a hard-earned second place aboard the blue Audi.
➤ The BMW Junior Team’s 6-lap stint in the second hour was forced by tyre and bodywork damage sustained by Dan Harper while overtaking a slower car. As it happened on the penultimate lap of his stint, this did not largely impact the team’s strategy, but did result in a longer final stint which over the two out-of-sync pit stops combined costed a handful of seconds.
➤ Star of the first two hours of the race was without a doubt Julien Andlauer. The driver from Lyon took pole position with a time of 7m53.542s, set the second-fastest lap time of the race with a 7m54.180s, built up a 17-second gap before forced to sit out a stop-and-go penalty after 20 minutes of racing for jumping the start, retaking the lead in the second hour and handing over the #30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R to Klaus Abbelen with a 7-second advantage over Manuel Metzger. As fully expected, Abbelen could not maintain the outright lead, but did cross the finish line first in the SP9/GT3 Pro-Am class – eighth overall. However, an additional 36 seconds was added to their race time for leaving the pits under the minimum pit stop time, dropping the crew from Barweiler to second in the sub-class and giving victory to the #20 Huber Motorsport Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Nico Menzel and Achim Thyssen.
➤ While all eyes in SPX were on the BMW M4 GT3 entering its second-ever race and again scoring a remarkable result – fifth place despite starting from the back and adding extra seconds to its pit stops due to SPX regulations for GT3 prototypes – the SPX class also saw the Porsche 992 GT3 Cup make its first Nordschleife appearance. Clad in prototype camouflage, the car’s run saw Uwe Alzen and Marco Holzer bring the Manthey Racing-entered Cup racer back home in eighteenth position, just under a minute behind the fastest previous-spec Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of Huber Motorsport.
➤ Having made his GT3 debut this year and racing with various Porsche teams throughout the season, Tobias Müller stepped back for NLS8 to pick up driving duties aboard the #350 Black Falcon Team Textar Porsche 911 GT3 Cup alongside Paul Harkema, reuniting Müller with his team of the past two years. The local star took over Niels Langeveld’s role of coach to Harkema while Langeveld was in Monza for the penultimate round of the TCR Europe Touring Car Series. Müller and Harkema retired 16 minutes before the end with a damaged suspension while in twelfth place and leading the non-GT3 field.
➤ The honour of first non-GT3 thus went to the #920 Teichmann Racing KTM X-Bow GTX of Hendrik Still, Constantin Schöll and Jeroen Bleekemolen, competing in the CUPX for KTM X-Bows.
➤ Am driver Janine Shoffner undertook the massive task of racing the four-hour Barbarossapreis solo to end her season. Without regular co-driver Moritz Kranz, the British-American finished a close second in the SP9/GT3 Am sub-class aboard the #9 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3. While successful and writing history as the first female to race a VLN race solo in a GT3 car, Shoffner stated she is not looking to repeat the feat in the future.
➤ Noah Nagelsdiek, Florian Naumann and Hendrik von Danwitz finished tenth on their GT3 debut. The trio are graduating their junior programme with Black Falcon Team Identica in the #19 Porsche 991.2 GT3R following learning the ropes of high-performance racing in the team’s Porsche 991.2 GT3 Cup MR. In the run-up to the weekend, a testing accident threw a wrench in the works, forcing a complete rebuild that saw the car miss Friday testing and throwing the drivers into the deep end for the race with little preparationand a suboptimal set-up – making their top 10 finish even more impressive.
➤ NLS8 marked the final time Walkenhorst Motorsport has entered BMW M6 GT3s at the Nürburgring. With the GT3 team fully stretched racing at the Norisring (DTM) and Barcelona (GT World Challenge Europe) in two weeks, NLS9 will only see the team’s BMW M2 CS and GT4s entered. Walkenhorst is expected to take delivery of three new BMW M4 GT3s at the end of the year, while selling part of its fleet of M6 GT3s to Koopman Racing in the Netherlands for use on track days and racing in the Supercar Challenge.
➤ Another puncture ended the season in fitting style for the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of David Pittard, Christian Krognes and Ben Tuck, who have suffered their fair share of tyre damage this season. In equally fitting style, Pittard set a new official NLS track lap record in the few laps he raced, putting a 7m53.202s in the record books on lap 2. This follows Krognes’ unofficial record set in qualifying for NLS6.
➤ Marcel Marchewicz, along with having made his GT3 debut with Team HWA Racelab finishing eleventh, also practically secured the SP10/GT4 championship with yet another class win. Finishing 22nd outright, Marchewicz and co-drivers Marek Böckmann and Tim Neuser scored their fifth consecutive victory of the season. Having raced on the #162 Schnitzelalm Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 at the start of the season instead of the #165, Marchewicz is now 9.29 points ahead of #165 Mercedes-AMG co-driver Böckmann, meaning Marchewicz can only be stopped if he doesn’t start and Böckmann overcomes the gap – an unlikely scenario.
➤ Going into the final race of the season, defending champions Danny Brink and Philipp Leisen stand the best chance to grab their third VLN championship title – although without co-driver and co-defending champion Christopher Rink who has been scoring his VLN championship points in the VT2 class Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive BMW 330i instead of BMW 325i in the V4 class. If Brink and Leisen win the final race, they win the championship. Rink, meanwhile, is also still in contention, trailing his teammates by 9 points in eighth place.
➤ Daniel Blickle, Max Kronberg and Tim Scheerbarth are also still in with a realistic shot to win the championship, which would be Scheerbarth’s second and first since 2011. Success or failure, however, is completely out of the trio’s hands: even a win for the #960 W&S Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS is not enough should the #1 Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive BMW 325i win in the V4 class. NLS8 saw the W&S crew take a hit when it was decided after the race to penalise the #960 Porsche for overtaking under yellow on the final lap, dropping them to second place behind the #969 Mühlner Motorsport Cayman of Thorsten Jung and Oskar Sandberg.
➤ The fight between Max Hesse and Vincent Klob during the final stint of the race was not only for second place in NLS8, but also for the SP9/GT3 and Speed Trophy championships. 4 points separate the #5 Phoenix Audi and #44 BMW Junior team in the Speed Trophy, while Kolb leads the SP9/GT3 class by 3.3 points ahead of the three BMW Juniors. Both teams are the only remaining contenders for the class and Trophy championship titles.
➤ NLS ends its season on 9 October with the Pagid Racing 45. DMV Münsterlandpokal. This is a departure from the usual end-of-October finale – a change made with last year’s rising COVID-19 infection rates during fall in mind. For 2022, the season finale is back on its traditional late October date. Click HERE for the full 2022 calendar.
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