German Endurance Ch’ship Test Day
The German endurance racing season has officially begun.

dailysportscar.comIn overcast, rainy conditions, the German Endurance Championship organising body VLN held its first test day of the year on the Nordschleife last Saturday, March 20. 180 cars were present; neither the Audis nor the Honda NSX showed up, so the attention was on BMW and Opel.

The Schnitzer team brought two M3 GTR Specials, the new-for-2004 chassis still in virginal white livery, and Boris Said (right, with Dirk Muller) skipped sun-soaked Sebring in favour of the rain-soaked Eifel. BMW also intends to participate in three rounds of the Belcar series (as already reported here), including the race on the Nürburgring GP circuit, in preparation for the 24 Hours of Spa; so it will be a busy year for Schnitzer and the GTR.

dailysportscar.comOver in the Opel camp, the German fans got their first glimpse of the revised Astra coupé which features modified aerodynamics, with a new rear diffuser assembly, and a repositioned 'Superbird' wing almost reminiscent of the Audi TT-R.

Compare this new layout (left) with the configuration that was used in the 24 Hours last year. Below is the Dumbreck, Menzel, Bleekemolen and Strycek car, from the 2003 race.

dailysportscar.comOther notable appearances were those of the Scheid Motorsport BMW M3 GTR'S' with its privately developed 4l V8 engine, and reportedly with more factory support than ever this year, and the Zakspeed Viper, left, with its new colour scheme, but still with ten cylinders on board, the 6.2l V8 not yet available. Rumours of a second Viper are still floating around.

Speaking of vibrant colours, the Alzen Porsche 996 "Alien" now sports the distinctive black and turquoise colour scheme of new team sponsor Vitaphone. There was no official timing at this test day, but those who happened to have stop watches on them agreed that on sheer speed over a flying lap, this turbocharged 996 will be hard to beat. Now they need to find reliability. Between this car, and the Saleen S7-R in the FIA GT series (and possibly the LMES), the Alzens and Uwe Bartels have a season of endurance racing ahead of them that others can only dream about, and another assault on Mount Panorama will likely round out the year.

Also on location was Edgar Dören's team but sadly not the man himself. There is still a lot of concern over Mr. Dören's health; the team members were inundated with questions about his condition, but would not go into any detail.

On a lighter note, the Nürburgring GmbH has spent half a million Euros on repair and maintenance work and safety modifications over the winter; so the stage is set, and competitors and fans alike are looking forward to the first German Championship race on 3 April.
Johannes Gauglica and


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