The start of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring season which was most eagerly anticipated was not at all disappointing for the many fans attending this round of the most popular endurance racing series in Europe. After an exciting race, the team of Manthey-Racing celebrated the first victory in the new Porsche 911 GT3 R at the 57th ADAC Westfalenfahrt. Marcel Tiemann (Monaco), Marc Lieb (Ludwigsburg/Germany) and Timo Bernhard (Dittweiler/Germany) took the chequered flag after the race distance of four hours with an advance of 14.535 seconds ahead of Mattias Ekström (Sweden) and Emmanuel Collard (Switzerland) following into second place in their Audi R8 LMS entered by Abt Sportsline. The podium was completed by Augusto Farfus (Brazil), Pedro Lamy (Portugal) and Uwe Alzen (Betzdorf/Germany) in the M3 entered by BMW Motorsport. The race finished very successfully also for the Porsche 911 GT3 R with hybrid drive at its first participation. Richard Lietz, Martin Ragginger (both from Austria) and Jörg Bergmeister (Langenfeld/ Germany) finished the race in sixth place.
The first surprise of the day was provided by Johannes Stuck. With a lap time of 8:37.102 minutes, the race driver who lives in Liechtenstein gained pole position with the Audi R8 LMS of the champion team Black Falcon. The team which is based in Kelberg near the Nürburgring and which will this year for the first time compete with two GT3 sports cars from the Ingolstadt factory could however not go the pace of the works teams over the complete race distance. Together with the two title holders Christer Jöns (Ingelheim/Germany) and Sean Paul Breslin (Great Britain) Stuck junior finished seventh overall – a respectable result.
After a lot of changes amongst the top teams in the lead, the Manthey trio with the new Porsche 911 GT3 R turned out to be the strongest combination of car and drivers and scored a well-deserved victory after 27 race laps. “This is a brilliant start with the new Porsche”, said Lieb happily after the race. “We had no problems at all today. The team around Olaf Manthey had prepared the car very well so that we found perfect conditions.” In the initial phase of the race, double DTM Champion Ekström had a close battle with Bernhard for many laps. “A fantastic duel”, said the Swede happily. “Our fight was very close – but I never really had a realistic chance to overtake Timo. The balance of his car was absolutely perfect whereas I was absolutely driving at my limits.” The Audi works driver, however, did not at all regret his excursion to the ‘Green Hell’. “The Nordschleife is the absolute number one for me and cannot be compared to any other track in the world. I would not at all be unhappy if I had another chance to compete here before the 24h Race.” Endurance racing expert Alzen certified the great potential of the M3 after its first race participation. “I am very happy. We had tested a lot in the run-up of the race. The Schnitzer team is working extremely professionally. We still lack a bit of the top speed compared to our competitors – but we will work on it.” The fastest race lap was achieved by Frank Stippler (Bad Münstereifel/Germany) in the Audi R8 LMS entered by Phoenix-Racing. In his second lap over the 24.369 kilometres long full circuit of the Nürburgring short connection and Nordschleife, the Audi driver set a time of 8:18.301 minutes. This corresponds to an average speed of 176.055 kph. The trio made up of Stippler/ Basseng/ Kaffer had to retire after 15 laps due to technical failure.
Successful comeback of Walter Röhrl
Rally legend Walter Röhrl (St. Englmar/Germany) finished into 22nd position overall at his racing comeback in the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring. Although at first glance this result seems to be an average success, is all the more noteworthy as their Porsche 911 GT3 RS is an almost series production car. The only modification carried out on the car is the compulsory safety equipment. “The car has exceeded my greatest expectations and I had so much fun at the steering wheel”, Röhrl said enthusiastically. “We could go the pace of many true race cars. In particular in fast corners and under braking, the 911 GT3 RS was sensationally.”
Merten/Silvester to be the first championship leaders in 2010
First championship leaders are Mario Merten (Nürburg/Germany) and Wolf Silvester (Nürnberg/Germany). With their BMW Z4 entered by Bonk Motorsport, the champions of the 2006 season won the class of VLN Special up to 2.000 cc cubic capacity which counted the greatest number of starters with 25 cars. Second in the class became the fastest Renault Clio driven by Olivo Jannik and Jurek Elmar, both from Berlin.
The second round of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring, the 35th DMV 4-Stunden-Rennen organised by the Renngemeinschaft Düren, will take place on 10th April.