Regulars and new faces leading the standings after round 1

At the 64th ADAC Westfalenfahrt, the VLN opening round, two teams continued where they stopped last year. Marcel Manheller of the racing team with the same name took the victory together with Carsten Knechtges in a BMW 325i in class V4 (VLN production cars up to 2,500 cc capacity). Norbert Fischer, Christian Konnerth and Daniel Zils did the same in class V5 (VLN production cars up to 3,000 cc capacity) with the Porsche Cayman of the Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport. The two teams thus took up positions three and six respectively in the drivers’ championship standings and rank once again among the candidates for the title.

All point standings at a glance

The first leaders in the championship are however – and this has already almost become a tradition in the VLN – the winners of the first round. Earl Bamber, Kevin Estre and Laurens Vanthoor dominated their 19 competitors in class GT3 with the Manthey-Porsche and thus collected 9.75 points. The BMW M235i Racing Cup class with the winner Yannick Fübrich and David Griessner figured one car less on the starting grid. The winning Adrenalin duo convinced with a strong performance but in the end also benefited from the bad luck of current VLN Champion Michael Schrey. The latter, who had been leading the race so far, ran out of fuel a few metres in front of the finish line. Schrey compensated the lack of horsepower by manpower and pushed his M235i over the finish line. Despite this physical effort, he was not classified as, pursuant to the VLN Regulations, the car must cross the finish line under its own power. The background of this rule is quite simple: With this action, Schrey has unnecessarily put himself at risk, the race was finally still going on and he should have moved behind the track protection as quickly as possible. So the project ‘defence of the title’ will restart at zero for Schrey. But last year already, this fact did not prevent him from defending his title successfully in 2017…

The increase in numbers of cars in the H2 category (group H cars up to 2,000 cc capacity) did not really come unexpected. In addition to the popular classic cars of Opel and Volkswagen, a number of Renault Clio will this year join the VLN stage at the Nürburgring. The former Cup racers which enriched the endurance championship about ten years ago have meanwhile reached the age to compete in group H. Nevertheless, a true youngtimer was finally the front runner: The Opel Manta of Olaf Beckmann, Peter Hass and Volker Strycek. This was finally not only due to the large number of retirements – only six cars out of the 14 starters made it to the finish – but with a time of 9:34.748 minutes, the Manta completed the by far fastest race lap.

The numbers of points allocated in the VLN depend on the numbers of cars in the various classes. The standings in the drivers’ championship result accordingly. With 20 cars, the GT3 class SP9 PRO figured the greatest number of starters, followed by the Cup 5 (BMW M235i, 19 starters) and the V4 (17 cars). Behind those followed the H2 (14 cars), the Cup 3 (Cayman Trophy by Manthey-Racing) and finally the V5 with nine vehicles, amongst them the one with the crew Fischer, Konnerth and Zils.