Four wins out of eight races and victories in all SP9/GT3 championships: for Scherer Sport Team Phoenix, the 2022 VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) season has been an outstanding success. One constant aboard the victorious #16 Audi R8 LMS GT3 was Kuba Giermaziak who finished the year with yet another race win and established himself as one of 2022’s greatest drivers at the Nordschleife. Always spectacular to watch and invaluable in Phoenix Racing’s return to glory, the Pole looks back with GT REPORT on his breakout season.
NLS2 | ENTRY LIST | LIVESTREAM | QUALIFYING REPORT | RACE REPORT | INTERVIEW KUBA GIERMAZIAK
Coming into the rescheduled NLS2 46. Nimex DMV 4h-Rennen in early November, Giermaziak was in a strong position to sweep the top class’ championships. But the season didn’t start out that way as it wasn’t until June when Giermaziak reached the podium for the first time. After that, however, there was hardly any stopping him as the 32-year-old followed up his NLS4 win with three more victories and a second place.
“I’m very happy especially that I managed to win four times with four different drivers: Kelvin van der Linde, Rene Rast, Kim Luis Schramm, Luca Engstler, they all drove with me,” Kuba Giermaziak happily reflects on his second season at the Nordschleife.
“For the season victory we won the team championship, the Speed Trophy and the driver championship for me so it was a very special season and very special for the team with winning the 24 Hours and winning a lot of 1-2 and just dominating the series. The last race for the championship was only between us [#5 sister car of Frank Stippler and Vincent Kolb], we had such a big gap to the other cars so this shows how strong Phoenix was this year.
“I couldn’t imagine [winning the championships when the season started], I was thinking about it but to be honest until NLS7 I didn’t know where I was in the championship because I didn’t expect that we could win. We had one DNF which was very unlucky, and I thought put us too much to the back because our sister car was very consistent, they were all the time on the podium and at the front. But we had a very strong second half of the season winning most of the races and out of the last five races we won four, so that feels good.”
The turning point came at the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. Having spent a lot of time in the Audi during the Eifel endurance race, the former Porsche Supercup star took on the second half of the season with a boost of confidence.
“I have to say the most fun part of the season was probably the first win because I haven’t been racing for almost six years and it took me probably… I can say that after the 24 Hours I started to feel really comfortable in the car: I could get in and be fast from the beginning. And like yesterday, we didn’t run and I went into qualifying for the last three laps and we were fighting for pole.
“After the 24 Hours when I did this six, seven hours of driving I started to feel comfortable and then I started to really enjoy the season because I could see we had a chance to win races. I didn’t even think about the championship and I only came back to racing to have fun and to win races so if that was possible and when Rene [Rast] came and we had a clear win I said, ‘OK, this feels good, we need more of that.’”
In the final race of the season, it looked like the winning streak of the previous races would finally be broken by Walkenhorst Motorsport who with the unleashed Christian Krognes were about to snatch the win. However, a refuelling problem for the BMW team handed the lead to Giermaziak’s teammate Kim Luis Schramm who could then cruise to the finish.
“When I was pitting after my double stint we were in a theoretical lead because we knew that the BMW pitted earlier so they had 40 seconds extra pitstop time. We were 15 seconds behind, so we had the theoretical lead but then Christian got in the car and his pace was just… he was flying.
“Before the last stint of Kim, we were, let’s say, on par with the BMW, so we knew we had to finish. We were thinking also of bringing it home safe but then unfortunately the other guys had some issues with fuelling. This gave us a chance to win the race and we just had to finish it. We knew that in their last pit stop they didn’t put enough fuel to finish the race so even though they were only 30 seconds behind, we knew they would have to pit again. Kimi heard every lap on the radio, ‘take it easy, keep it safe, we have a huge margin’.”
While plans for next year are not yet settled, Giermaziak is looking to return to the Nürburgring.
“I really hope I’ll continue with the NLS. I like the programme so I would like to do the full season and probably Quali Race and the 24 Hours, but it really depends. Now the season has finished there will be a party and then within the next two, three, four weeks discussions will be started.
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