VLN - DMV-4-Stunden-Rennen
The sun still shines over the Eifel. In pleasant spring weather, the Lords of the Ring reconvened to match their skills for the second time of the season, in the 29th running of the DMV-4-Stunden-Rennen.

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In front of some 20,000 spectators, the race would be between the privateers that are the lifeblood of this championship. No factory teams were present, with Audi and Opel on DTM duty in Hockenheim, and BMW Team Schnitzer in action in the ETCC. Others were doing double duty: the Alzen Vitaphone team rolled out its Porsche 996, looking for a "double" on the weekend. With Uwe Alzen and Michael Bartels busy at that other little race in Spain, Jürgen Alzen and Arno Klasen were the drivers of the turbocharged Porsche, which in the entry list is called the "GTII" (they dare not call it "GT2"), but affectionately known to everyone as the "Alien".

Another car so distinctive it has been awarded a nickname by the Nordschleife punters is the "Diva", Dolate Motorsport's BMW M3, an E30-series car with a history that goes back to the early 1990s. This veteran of many battles was on its way to the mortuary, but the team instead decided for a heart transplant: a 4l V8 engine, in the same old ex-DTM chassis. This brings the car into a different category, where the minimum weight is almost 300kgs higher than what they have been running so far. A hefty penalty to pay for the additional power, torque, and, so they hope, reliability. Regular driver Artur Deutgen would share this rejuvenated car with Marc Hennerici and Werner Fischer. Deutgen's promising career in touring car racing in the early '80s was effectively ruined by a foray into Formula 3, where he could not match the speed of people like Bernd Schneider and Volker Weidler, and missed the move into the booming DTM. Another man whose career has not gone according to plan is Marc Basseng, a former Porsche Junior who has found competitive drives hard to come by in the years since his departure from the Stuttgart marque. In his debut in the championship, he undertook to drive this four hour race on his own, in the 996 GT3-RS of Land Motorsport.

The Alzen Porsche claimed pole position and led the 147 car field across the line and into the race, the immaculately turned-out, Jaguar-bodied V8STAR car never far behind and comfortably matching its pace, and the private Opel Astra V8 of Andreas and Ralf Schall in third. These three remained out in front throughout the early part of the race; behind them, positions were swapped and swapped again until the top six presented themselves in the same running order as they had been at the start.

It was at this point that things started to liven up a bit. First, a tyre blew on the leading Alzen Porsche. Damage to the right front corner led to a lengthy repair stop, but the car would rejoin. The first round of regular pit stops reshuffled the leaderboard a bit, and the Schall Opel took the lead of a race for the first time. Then the power steering on this car failed, and they decided to try and sort out the problem, rather than rely on an "intermittent" power steering on this twisty track, and so lost over an hour in the pits. Still, they took with them the knowledge that their car has race-winning potential.

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At the halfway mark, the V8STAR Jaguar of Dirk Adorf, Ulrich Galladé, and Hermann "Hairpin" Tilke was in control, with the V8-powered Scheid BMW (Oliver Kainz / Johannes Scheid / Mario Merten) in second place, and the 996 "MR" of Kern / Lambrecht / Renger in third. The Porsche was one of several cars in this race campaigned by Olaf Manthey, who has sold his turbocharged 996 to a Belcar team and is instead concentrating on the development of a normally aspirated "Special" for the 24 Hours. That car is not yet ready to race, but the Manthey Racing customers defended their team's honour admirably. The 996 entered unter the KDW banner then came under pressure from the Zakspeed Viper driven by Nordschleife instructor Markus Grossmann. In the mean time, the "Diva" had long since retired to her dressing room with an electronics-related engine problem.

dailysportscar.comThings went from bad to worse for the Alzen crew as the turbo Porsche, with Arno Klasen at the wheel, made contact with a retaining wall at Breidscheid, not far from the spot of Niki Lauda's fiery 1976 crash. It seems that again, a tyre let go. The Alzen car has a new tyre supplier this year, which also happens to be the series' main sponsor. Klasen at least managed to perform a "controlled crash"; and so thankfully, the Porsche was the only one to sustain injuries, along perhaps with the tyre manufacturer's pride. Together with their early exit at Valencia, it all adds up to an entirely forgettable weekend for the Alzens.

The V8STAR Jag then came in for an early stop, and let the others do some leading. Scheid and KDW were out in front; the BMW lost the lead after its pit stop but now found the Jaguar breathing down its neck. Johannes Scheid was nursing an injured arm, and therefore returned to the pits after one statutory lap, and handed the car back to Merten. It was probably at this point that the Scheid team lost the race.

dailysportscar.comThe Zakspeed Viper fell off the pace somewhat and was out of the immediate hunt for the win; the new drivers on the team still don't quite match the pace of Zakspeed employee Grossmann, but they are improving all the time. As the last round of pit stops went by, with some cars on a different fuel stategy than others, and some out of sync. after earlier repairs, the race became increasingly difficult to call. The V8STARs then made their last driver change, and put their strongest driver in the car for the final charge. In fifth place now, Dirk Adorf took on Merten in the BMW, marathon man Basseng in his GT3-RS (flown over from the United States for this race, and working exceptionally well), the KDW Porsche and another Porsche 996, the Weiland Racing GT3-RS of owner / driver Matthias Weiland and "Bugs Bunny".

dailysportscar.comDon't let the name fool you, it was not the popular screen performer driving; the alias hides the true identity of an experienced Nordschleife racer. They had quietly worked their way up from 22nd on the grid to P1 at this point; Weiland was in the car for the last stint. But they, as well as Basseng, had their last scheduled stop still ahead of them. The BMW then fell by the wayside (for the moment) when Merten had to have a gear selection problem fixed. So he, too, was on a mission when he rejoined in seventh place.

Three laps from the end, the KDW Porsche led the race by some 10 seconds from the Jaguar, which was rapidly closing in. The early stage of the race had shown it could match the pace of the fastest cars in the series; now Dirk Adorf felt it an appropriate moment to tap some of the car's hidden potential. Meanwhile, Mario Merten did the same a few kilometers up the road, picking off his opponents one by one, and homing in on the last podium spot. On the penultimate lap, Adorf took the lead, and eked out a 14 second advantage for a well deserved race win for the Raeder Motorsport team.

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The KDW Porsche was out of reach for the hard-charging Merten; two more Manthey cars finished inside the top 10, with Jacobs / Schornstein / Hulverscheid in fifth and winning the Porsche Cup class, and JP Baker / Marc Peters in ninth and third of the Cup Porsches. Merten took third place for the Scheid BMW team, and Marc Basseng will be pleased with fourth place in his first race in this championship. Missing from the top 20 was the NGK / Weiland 996 which on the very last lap, and in fourth position at the time, came to a halt out on the circuit ("That's All Folks"); it was eventually classified in 22nd place. After four hours of competition that got ever more intense as the race wore on, no less than eleven cars finished the race on the same lap as the leader. Who needs factory teams?

The next race will be another 4 hour event, on May 1.

With thanks, as always, to www.vln.de for results and images.
Johannes Gauglica

Result

1. Dirk Adorf / Hermann Tilke / Ullrich Galladé, Jaguar V8STAR, 26 laps
2. Wilhelm Dieter Kern / Bert Lambrecht / Reinhold Renger, Porsche 996 GT3 MR, -14.455 sec.
3. Johannes Scheid / Mario Merten / Oliver Kainz, BMW M3 GTRS, -1:45.921 min.
4. Marc Basseng, Porsche 996 GT3 RS, -3:02.729 min.
5. Michael Jacobs / Dieter Schornstein / Paul Hulverscheid, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -3:04.581 min.
6. Dr. Hans-Peter Huppert-Nieder / Werner Mohr / Markus Großmann, Viper GTS-R, -3:10.625 min.
7. Michael Tischner / Matthias Tischner, BMW M3 GTR, -3:39.026 min.
8. Heinz-Josef Bermes / Thomas Koll, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -4:39.381 min.
9. John Paul Baker / Marc Peters, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -6:02.874 min.
10. Reik Kleinherbers / Christian Behling, BMW M3 GTR, -8:17.935 min.

 

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