They have been rivals on the race track, father and son will now come together in a common team to compete at the legendary Nordschleife. Lars Harbeck and Sven Markert have been preparing themselves intensively for their debut in the VLN endurance championship. The fourth round of this biggest grassroots series of the world will mark their debut event for which they have been waiting for so long. VLN.de spoke with father Habeck about the targets and plans.
Lars, please give us a short summary of your motorsport career so far …
From the beginning up to the mid-eightieth, I was competing in rallies in West Berlin. After having finished my studies and being established in my profession as a lawyer, I started in circuit racing just after the turn of the millennium, in the team of KK Automobile. Hereby, I drove all of the M3 generations – from the E30 up to the F87. That was also how my son Sven started to get interested in motorsport. He is 21 years old now and has been competing from the age of 15. He was the youngest vice-champion in the “Börde-Sprint”. In 2016, he won division 2 in the STT with a BMW M3 E46, ahead of me. He changed to the TCR in 2017 where he was really struggling and had to learn some lessons. The team was finally not able to finish the season due to financial reasons.
How did it now come that you entered VLN4?
At some point, the idea to compete as a team grew stronger since we have to put a lot of money in our hobby anyhow. That may then also be more interesting for sponsors. It was my son who proposed to start at the Nordschleife. In 2018, we received a lot of coaching within the framework of track days and tourist drives. Having trained a lot last year, we participated in the RCN Circuit Challenge at the beginning of the current season. After the 24h Race, we will now join the VLN at round 4, with the support of Daniel Schwertfeld as third driver in our BMW M240i entered in the Cup5 class. He is of course the top driver from amongst the three of us and, on the basis of data analysis, he will be able to point out to us how we can still improve.
Why did you choose to compete in the Cup5 class?
Due to the many competitors and the more or less similar conditions in this class, this is most likely the best way to see the level of our actual performance. My son in particular would like to compare his sporting performance with other drivers. It is of no use for us to start in a class with three cars. Two of them may retire and, coincidently, you finally finish first just and only because you made it to the finish.
Where did you get your car from?
That is an interesting story. The car was bought by KK last winter on my behalf. It was a car damaged in an accident. It is the BMW of the former VLN Champion Michael Schrey from the year 2018. It was rebuilt and is not entered again by KK Automobile for the team Harbeck/Markert.
So far, you have been competing many times against each other. Is this the first time for you to join one and the same team?
Yes, indeed. We have been rivals so far. There was no mutual consideration, we were fighting against each other wherever necessary. Now we wish to have fun together as a team.
How about your experience on the Nordschleife and what makes this legendary circuit so attractive for you?
So far, I have completed about 600 laps at the Eifel circuit, my son even less, maybe 300, but due his young age, he gets everything under control better and more quickly than me. Artificial tracks such as Hockenheim or Lausitzring are boring. The Nordschleife is an old-school circuit. That is a unique story, at least in Europe. The layout and the requirements in relation to both car and drivers are incomparable. It does not forgive any errors. That is the challenge. We know a little about the interaction with the big GT3 cars from the STT. Here in the VLN, though, there is quite a different number of cars and they are on a much higher level in terms of quality. My son said that we have to rock the Nordschleife finally and this is how he convinced his meanwhile 57-years old father that our next step would be to attack at the Nordschleife.
What is the longer-term perspective of the project?
In 2019, we will complete the RCN and the VLN series up to the end. Next year, we may change to the M2 Competition as race car. We may, however, also continue with the BMW M240i. As an alternative, we also still have a BMW M4 with a 3.5 litres naturally-aspirated engine from the E46 which is not at all built in this configuration by BMW. It is a larger car with a clearly better aerodynamic than a GT4. That would be absolutely perfect in class SP6. With the competition in mind, a Cup class should nevertheless be more interesting for us.