Yelmer Buurman unexpectedly popped up at Konrad Motorsport last year. No longer an exclusive Mercedes-AMG driver, Franz Konrad was quick to bring in the Dutchman to strengthen his eponymous team.
Following the second VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) race of 2023, Buurman assesses the Lamborghini team has the speed however is still plagued by technical issues.
“Two weeks ago, we retired in my stint after two laps with a broken dynamo. That possibly damaged the power steering – we have had a lot of problems with that in NLS2,” the former Blancpain GT and British GT champion said following the race.
“On Friday it wasn’t that bad, but the grip was also relatively low, either wet or semi-wet, and even in the semi-wet you’re on rain tyres and don’t have full grip. Driving the whole race on slicks, there is a lot more force enacted on the system and we continuously had outages, particularly in the fast corners and under braking – exactly those moments when you don’t want to have this problem! It simply wasn’t possible to drive on the limit because the outages happened sometimes earlier than other times. You can’t plan for it so have to build in some margin.
“Otherwise, it went well: the speed was there, also in qualifying when it was wet. I was on my way to pole position when I got stuck behind a Cup Porsche also because of other cars we together had to overtake and lost a lot of time. Eventually we got nineth, which is fine, and everyone has stories like these.
“It was nice to finally get to take the Lambo out in the rain and be at the front – that was positive.
“In the race we also had good speed despite the issues. We also encountered a problem with the fuel pump that quit on us, and we had to flash the software during a stop costing us an additional 25 seconds. My teammate was spun around during the first stint, adding another 20 seconds. You lose time, you lose contact with the front, and that’s when it gets tough.”
Although not yet signed up for the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, Buurman is hopeful to stay with the German team for the endurance classic. If he does, he feels confident going into the race.
“On the one hand the speed is simply there despite having done zero preparation, we didn’t even test on Friday bar some laps at the end of the day whereas other teams have been fully testing. That gives me a good feeling.
“On the other hand, we of course did have technical problems.
“That being said, when we go into the 24 Hours it will be with a different, newer car. So we expect no or at least fewer problems.”
Buurman’s re-emergence with Konrad Motorsport might seem unexpected, however, it is far from it.
“I have known Kranz since ages. He used to race against my father and I tested Porsche Supercup with him after my formula career when I was searching for what to do next – eventually choosing GT3, but the test with Franz went very well.
“When I wasn’t exclusively contracted to AMG anymore, he called saying, hey, you want to do a race with me, and that’s how it started.”
While no longer a full AMG works pilot, the 36-year-old is still involved with the three-pointed star.
“It’s possible I’ll do some races with AMG later this year, but it’s not sure yet. The contact is fine.
“Last year, I didn’t do any races with AMG while at the start of the season I had like 18 races scheduled. Within three weeks nothing was left because one team pulled the plug – the financier stopped – while the other team I was supposed to race with got two other drivers who brought their own Pros, leaving me on the side-lines. Normally when that happens something else comes up, but not last year.
“Now I’m discovering some other cars and teams, so to speak, and let’s see what the future holds.”
Conversely, Buurman says, he has had time to concentrate on life outside of racing.
“It has been good in other regards because racing isn’t the only thing I do – I’m quite busy. Finally, I had normal weekends again because I usually work for a company during the week and in the weekend I organise drift training and that sort of thing. Having two free days in a row was unique so in that regard it was also nice to have a bit more relaxed year to focus on other things.
“But you do miss the racing a lot, I’m happy to be back in the car a bit more this year.”
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