VLN – Round 4 - 35th Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken Trophy
But first, some Nürburgring news:

The number of V8STAR silhouette cars in use in the German Endurance Championship has gone up to three. The two "Jaguars" of multiple race winner Raeder Motorsport and Zakspeed Racing have been joined by former V8STAR team MIS Sport Promotion who bring an "Audi" to the series (this one of the "camo cars", as Audi did not agree to the use of its silhouette), with some assistance by the Sagarage team, which successfully ran the current Raeder car last year. They have also submitted an entry for the 24 Hours, as has another ex-V8STAR team, Ryll Racing, for its "Lexus".

Meanwhile in the Honda camp, the GS Motorsport / Honda Germany team has announced its fourth driver for the 24 Hours: Germany's Markus Oestreich will join Armin Hahne, Walter Lechner jr., and Robin Liddell in the (now Michelin-shod) ex-JGTC Honda NSX. The tall ex-DTMer and European truck racer Oestreich is an unlikely choice as driver for a car that offers as little cockpit space as this, but he brings with him a wealth of racing excperience on the Nordschleife. The NSX has also been chosen as one of the six cars that will carry an onboard camera for the 24 Hours.

dailysportscar.comThe Honda and the MIS V8STAR had their racing premiere on the Nürburgring in the 35th Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken Trophy on Saturday. This was the last German Endurance Championship race before the 24 Hours, and the last opportunity for a number of drivers to put in the mandatory race laps in order to be allowed into the Great Race. No wonder then, that the grid was impressive: 177 cars were a record number of cars for a German Championship event; 112 would get to the finish. Among the teams that took the 24 laps of this timed 3.5 hour event as a test for the 24 Hours in a month's time was Team Schnitzer, with a BMW M3 GTR for Hans Stuck, Boris Said, and Duncan Huisman. Jörg and Dirk Müller were away on assignment in another part of Germany, racing European Championship tourers at Hockenheim.

Again doing double duty was the indefatigable Uwe Alzen, commuting between the 'Ring and Hockenheim (some 210k in each direction) to take part in this race, as well as the FIA GT round. With the Jürgen Alzen Motorsport Porsche back in running order following the accident in round 2, Uwe negotiated an agreement with the FIA officials that he would not have to qualify for the GT race, provided that he would not start the Saleen S7-R on Sunday. Another driver who came a long way to take part in this race was Robin Liddell, looking forward to reacquainting himself with a track where he last raced in 2000. He would team up with Armin Hahne.

dailysportscar.comIn practice, all was not well for the NSX and the Alzen Porsche; neither of them recorded a time. Beleaguered with gearbox trouble, the NSX (right) never left the Grand Prix track; and the Alzen Porsche (only just repaired, as you will remember) was withdrawn altogether follwing a crash at Tiergarten that had all the ingredients of disaster. A tyre let go (again) on one of the fastest parts of the circuit; but Alzen walked away unharmed. For the MIS V8STAR team on the other hand, practice ended on a high note: Thomas Mutsch and Harald Becker qualified the Roush-powered "Audi" ("Rowdy"?) in ninth place, immediately behind the Zakspeed "Jag". The Raeder V8STAR had to sit out this race, as the damage sustained in the last round could not be repaired on time.

Would you care to guess who got pole position? - BMW bagged a convincing 1-2 in the first Championship race in April, and now the Dutch/German/American "United Nations" team picked up where they had left off a month ago, Stuck doing the honours and outqualifying everybody else by almost seven seconds.

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Everybody else was led by the new Manthey Porsche Special, the winner of the last round now driven by Timo Bernhard, Arno Klasen (now permanently departed from the Alzen team?), and Marc Duez (below).

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These two teams would be the protagonists of the race. Not that there was ever any doubt the M3 GTR would win this race - which it did with ease - but the normally aspirated Manthey Porsche "GTR MR" managed to keep up with the amazing BMW's pace for a good while, this an encouraging sign for the 24 Hours. It does seem that Olaf Manthey's decision to abandon the turbo car is paying off.

Is a dress rehearsal gone wrong really a good omen for the premiere? If so, the Honda NSX will do exceptionally well in the 24 Hours. In the race as in practice, the car never made it to the Nordschleife. In the warm-up, the gearbox continued to shed its oil; and then the car did not take up its position on the grid, as the engine stubbornly refused to start. When they got it going some 30 minutes into the race, the gearbox acted up again, and a lap round the Grand Prix track was all the Japanese primadonna could manage before it returned to its garage, and stayed there. "We couldn't locate the oil leak, and with only 1.5l of oil in that gearbox, it was too risky to try and do a 25k lap", said Armin Hahne afterwards. The team's other car, a production-based NSX-R, also bowed out of the proceedings early; so the GS Motorsport certainly paid some hefty school fees on this weekend, and there are busy weeks ahead for Georg Severich and his crew. The first extensive test session on the Nordschleife has now been scheduled for next weekend.

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Another team had a splendid first race on the Ring. MIS' thundering "rowdy Audi" (above) looked competitive throughout the race, and profited from some retirements, among them the whole Zakspeed squad. The Viper had started the race from third position courtesy of a strong qualifying effort by Markus Grossmann, but the alternator packed up early in the race. The Zakspeed V8STAR now has the same ABS system as the Viper; former V8STAR series exec. Altfrid Heger shared this car with Sascha Bert and Donny Crevels, and they held their own against the other, as yet non-ABS'd, silhouette car. Heger and Mutsch fought it out for third, until the fuel pump on the "Jaguar" failed on the last lap. Third place was nevertheless well-deserved for Harald Becker and Thomas "thank you very" Mutsch. With the Scheid BMW coming home in fourth, only these three cars finished on the same lap as the dominant BMW M3 GTR of Hans Stuck, Duncan Huisman, and Boris Said, who now is in the history books as the first American ever to have won a German Endurance Championship event.

Two races, two pole positions, two wins - Team Schnitzer is ready for the Main Event. Will BMW walk away with the 24 Hours, or will fate once again intervene?

The German Championship now takes a two month break: regular service will resume with a four hour race on 17 July.

With thanks, as always, to our Ringside "informers" and the official series website www.vln.de
Johannes Gauglica

Result
1 . #683 Hans-Joachim Stuck / Bori Said / Duncan Huisman, BMW M3 GTR, 24 laps
2 . #80 Timo Bernhard / Arno Klasen / Marc Duez, Porsche GT3-MR, -3:57.890mins.
3 . #677 Thomas Mutsch / Harald Becker, Audi V8STAR, -7:39.193mins.
4 . #99 Johannes Scheid / Oliver Kainz / Mario Merten, BMW M3 GTRS, -8:04.806mins.
5 . #100 Michael Bäder / Tobias Hagenmeyer, BMW M3, -1 lap
6 . #620 Michael Jacobs / Dieter Schornstein / Paul Hulverscheid, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -1 lap
7 . #622 Daniel Cooke / Croft David, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -1 laps
8 . #636 Jörg Otto / Georg Weiss / Thomas Zinnow, Porsche 996 Cup, -1 lap
9 . #628 Dr. Bert Flossbach / Klaus Hahn, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, -1 lap
10 . #166 Reik Kleinherbers / Christian Behling, BMW M3 GTR, -2 laps.

 

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