VLN – Rounds 5 & 6 (July 17/24)
First, an interesting bit of news about the Nürburgring 24 Hours of 2005 – writes Johannes Gauglica. A report in the German magazine Sport Auto indicates that the small matter of the date clash between this race and the Le Mans 24 Hours has been resolved, in an unexpected way. According to this report, the ACO has agreed to run its great race two weeks earlier than usual, while the 'Ring 24 will again take place on the second weekend of June, the traditional Le Mans weekend. An unexpected turn of events, and a fine piece of negotiating by organiser Peter Geisshecker, or simply a misunderstanding? We will keep you posted of any further developments. We haven’t had the date of the 2005 Le Mans 24 Hours confirmed.

44th ADAC-Reinoldus-Langstreckenrennen
Meanwhile, the Class of 2004 reconvened for the second part of its German Championship season, with rounds 5 and 6 on consecutive Saturdays. The 44th ADAC-Reinoldus-Langstreckenrennen on 17 July saw 148 entrants, the addition of a potentially important new car to the series, and possibly an equally important exit from the series.

dailysportscar.comThe evening before raceday also saw the annual VLN paddock party; and those who found getting up the following morning more difficult than usual were treated with an unscheduled extra thirty minutes of rest after qualifying. One of the Captain Racing Porsches had lost its way at Schwalbenschwanz, and the damage to the armco caused a delay in the proceedings.

Everyone’s attention was on the two, yes: two, turbocharged Porsches in the field: Johannes Paczynski’s PR-Design Motorsport team presented its self-developed 996 turbo. How would it compare with Jürgen Alzen Motorsport’s black and turqouise “Alien”, and with the normally aspirated 996s? It seems that wherever it shows up, the Alzen Alien claims pole position; it did so again on this occasion, with, as usual, Uwe Alzen at the controls. Perhaps pole position would translate into a race win this time?

The Big Bangers were at the head of the grid, with the Raeder V8STAR “Jaguar” and the Zakspeed Viper in second and third, followed by the next Porsche, Manthey Racing’s 996GT3-MR Special. One of the most improved teams of the season, Land Motorsport, would take the start from fifth position. The new PR-Design 996 turbo left a favourable impression in practice, and qualified on the inside of row 6.

The weather was warm and sunny, and when the officials called it a wet race, hardly anyone seemed to take any notice! Some time during the first lap, the weather ceased to be warm and sunny. Chaos, drama, pandemonium broke out on pit lane at the end of that first lap as almost all cars that were not rolling on rain tyres – the majority of the field – came in for a hurried tyre change. Among those who soldiered on with slicks was Alzen. A clutch problem had prevented them from taking up their place on pole position, now the Vitaphone Porsche was at the back of group 1 (the field is sent off in three groups) and chasing after the leaders. Uwe Alzen called these next two laps “criminal”, but they had their desired effect: the Vitaphonics made up valuable time, and several places, not once but twice as the rain stopped about an hour into the race, and the high ambient temperatures saw the track dry up quickly, by which time everybody else was back in for slicks. Soon they were up to third place, a 1 minute penalty for a pit lane infringement did not make much difference. Among the leading group, the biggest headway was made by father and son Schall with their DTM Astra V8, up to second place from eighth on the grid, and the leading Land Motorsport Porsche. As the track dried up, and the leaders went through their sequence of regular stops, Basseng, and later Patrick Simon (below), held their own against the nominally more powerful cars.

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The Alzen crew took over second place when the Schall Opel made a premature pit call; and as the race went into its final stage, the Alzen Porsche was the fastest moving object in all of Germany, and would surely have caught up with the Land car in time. Would have – because again, a tyre burst. Michael Bartels kept the car on the track, but when the 996 returned to its garage, the damage was done, and the car was retired with two laps to go. Now the Alzens are thinking about abandoning the turbo project altogether. Is this car too heavy for its tyres (1350kg), or too powerful, or both? The other turbocharged 996 was long gone at this point, new car trouble getting the better of it early on.

With the Schall family wagon now back up into a well-deserved, and relatively secure, second place but out of striking distance, the Land Motorsport Porsche took the chequered flag at the end of 25 laps, for its first race win – a race that was won with good tactics as well as outright speed, and an impeccable performance by the two drivers. Wolfgang Land’s team has years of experience campaigning Porsches at an international level, and the involvement of main sponsor Bilstein exceeds that of mere sponsorship.

Result
1 . Marc Basseng / Patrick Simon, Porsche 996 GT 3 RS 4:00:13.517 (25 laps)
2 . Andreas Schall / Ralf Schall, Opel Astra V8 Coupé - 3:39.967
3 . Hermann Tilke / Ullrich Galladé / Dirk Adorf, V8 STAR Jaguar - 4:20.736
4 . Michael Bäder / Tobias Hagenmeyer, BMW M3 -1 lap
5 . Nils Bartels / Harald Jacksties / Frank Lorenzo, Porsche GT3 -1 lap
6 . Wolfgang Destreé / Dr. Edgar Althoff / Winfried Bär, Porsche 996 GT3 R -1 lap
7 . Michael Jacobs / Dieter Schornstein / Paul Hulverscheid, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup -1 lap
8 . Elmar Deegener / Jonathan Price, Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 8 -1 lap
9 . Artur Deutgen / Werner Fischer, BMW M3 -1 lap
10 . Dr. Bert Flossbach / Klaus Hahn, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup -1 lap

Grenzlandrennen
dailysportscar.comA week later, 131 teams found their way back to the Nürburgring for the Grenzlandrennen. The scheduled race distance was 4 hours again, but things would not go according to schedule. Not present at all was Jürgen Alzen Motorsport; present but unable to take the start was the Land Porsche. “Hero to zero”: last week’s race winners Basseng / Simon again qualified in fifth place but the car developed engine trouble in the warm-up, and it could not be fixed in time for the race. The Manthey team took the opportunity to shine in qualifying. There were several Manthey-prepared cars in the race, and Le Patron himself, Olaf Manthey was present to drive two of them; he would start the race, from seventh position, in the GT3RSR he shared with Dennis Rosteck and Marc Gindorf, then take over the GT3-MR Special for the final stint. This car claimed pole position, and stayed in front of the Schall Opel and the Scheid BMW M3 throughout the first half of the race, while Manthey and later Gindorf brought the RSR up to fourth, then third place after the first round of scheduled stops.

These initial stages of the race were remarkable in one respect: the absence of rain. It was dry, and remained dry throughout the duration of the race - 3 hours and 17 minutes. It was around the halfway mark that a misunderstanding occurred between three cars on the approach to Quiddelbacher Höhe, and a Mercedes performed a quadruple somersault. No one was injured but two immobilised cars had to be removed, 20 metres of flattened armco had to be repaired, and the track was covered in oil. The repair and clean-up effort took up the best part of the next hour, and by that time it was clear that the race would be shortened; on regular Saturdays, all racing on the ‘Ring must end at 1800 hours. This also threw the original pit stop strategies into disarray, and several teams had to come in right at the end of the race to top up their fuel, and get their third drivers into the car – all drivers that have qualified for the race must also drive the car in the race. The Scheid team’s challenge for the podium ended like this; Johannes Scheid had to take over the BMW, and the pit stop on the penultimate lap threw them out of contention for third place.

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If the winning Manthey Porsche (above) eventually had a comfortable 50 second advantage over the Schall Opel Astra V8, the race was nevertheless a close one, with 16 cars on the lead lap. No less than eight of these were prepared by Manthey Racing.

Result
1 . Olaf Manthey / Bert Lambrecht / Arno Klasen, Porsche GT3-MR 3:16:49.419 (22 laps)
2 . Andreas Schall / Ralf Schall, Opel Astra V8 Coupé -50.648
3 . Marc Gindorf / Dennis Rosteck / Olaf Manthey, Porsche GT3 RSR -2:58.569
4 . Wilhelm D. Kern / Reinhold Renger, Porsche 911 GT3 -4:23.725
5 . Dr. Hans-Peter Huppert-Nieder / Werner Mohr / Markus Grossmann, Viper GTS-R -5:19.883
6 . Johannes Scheid / Mario Merten / Oliver Kainz, BMW M3 GTRS -5:25.291
7 . Michael Bäder / Tobias Hagenmeyer, BMW M3 -5:28.198
8 . Michael Jacobs / Dieter Schornstein / Paul Hulverscheid, Porsche 911 GT3 Cup -10:08.204
9 . Wolfgang Destreé / Kersten Jodexnis, Porsche 996 GT3 R -11:43.783
10 . Johannes Paczynski / Bernd Haid / Klaus Abbelen, Porsche 996 -12:40.332

As usual in the German Championship, the overall standings look very different from the individual race results. As there are not enough competitors in the “Big Banger” classes, the smaller and closer-to-stock cars are making more points. Right now, BMW 318 drivers Rene Wolff and former IndyCar man Arnd Meier have raked in the most points with a few class wins against 15 to 20 competitors in their 1850cc production car class; their main competition comes from the Bonnfinanz team (Oliver Rövenich / Thomas Ambiel / Thomas Brügmann) with another “stock” BMW, this an older E36; they do their winning (5 out of 6 races so far) in the 3000 production class, and have been the revelation of the 2004 season. Will they win again, and take the overall points lead, next Saturday?

With thanks, as always to our trackside informers, and www.vln.de
Johannes Gauglica

 

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