Manthey Racing secures opening victory in the VLN
Manthey celebrates, Falken tactics and Mücke benefits: The official race report at the season opener of the VLN Long Distance Championship on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife
Bright faces on the top step of the award ceremony podium in bright sunshine at the Nürburgring: Kevin Estre, Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor clinched victory in the Porsche 911 GT3 R from Manthey-Racing at the VLN season opener. After 28 laps (4:07:04,241 hours) the lead of the trio over the second-placed Markus Winkelhock and Nico Müller, who drove an Audi R8 LMS for Audi Sport Team BWT, amounted to 51.838 seconds. As third Klaus Bachler and Sven Müller completed the podium in the Porsche 911 GT3 R from Falken Motorsport.
“Great, finally my first victory on the Nordschleife,” rejoiced the New Zealander Bamber about the success. It was also a first for Vanthoor, who set the best time in qualifying with a time of 8:03.070 minutes. The Belgian celebrated the first Porsche victory of his career: “Finally, I had to wait more than a year for that. And then with’Grello? The Manthey trio dominated the action at the top over the entire distance, “It was still not a walk,” said Estre, “The Nordschleife is always a challenge and it never gets boring”.
For Audi works driver Müller, who will compete in the DTM for the Ingolstadt team, the first race in 2018 was a good start: “I started in the Mücke team for the first time and was enthusiastic,” he said: “The car was perfectly prepared and we really had a good race. The timed practice was rather difficult because we had problems to get through the traffic without any problems” The training for the VLN start had started in the morning with about 40 minutes delay due to fog with 180 vehicles.
Bachler and Müller’s third place in the Falken-Porsche was mainly due to the team’s brilliant strategy: “We made an early pit stop,” Bachler explained, “which put us back in twelfth place but allowed us to fight our way back to the front with fast lap times.
Behind the top trio, Team Land finished fourth. Team HTP Motorsport drove the best Mercedes-AMG GT3 to fifth place. The fastest BMW M6 GT3 was Rowe Racing’s start number 98. All four German car manufacturers finished the race in the GT3 class in the top 10.
For the first time this season the GT3 class SP9 is divided into three sub-categories, which are evaluated individually. The overall winners of the run won the professional classification.
First winners of the new SP9 premium classification are Steve Jans and Marek Böckmann in the GetSpeed Performance team’s Porsche 911 GT3 R “Great that it worked right away”, said Böckmann, “that makes us want more and gives us hope for the next races” Jans praised his new, permanent team mate, “Our speed was good and we were competitive. Marek did a great job. Henry Walkenhorst, Rudi Adams and Andreas Ziegler won the SP9 Masters classification in the BMW M6 GT3.
The fastest Cup Porsche was driven by Marcel Hoppe, Moritz Kranz and Tim Scheerbarth for Mühlner-Motorsport. The winners of Group H were Olaf Beckmann, Peter Hass and Volker Strycek with the iconic Opel Manta. Best drivers of the VLN production car classes were Norbert Fischer, Christian Konnerth and Daniel Zils with the Porsche Cayman of Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport.
The first leaders of the 2018 season are Bamber/Estre/Vanthoor. As winners of the SP9 class, with 19 opponents, they secured 9.75 points for the driver standings. Second are Yannick Fübrich and David Griessner as winners of the BMW M235i Racing Cup class (9.74 points) ahead of Carsten Knechtges and Marcel Manheller (9.71 points), who won the V4 class in the Manheller-Racing-BMW.
The second round of the VLN Endurance Championship Nürburgring starts on 7. April 2018. The 43. DMV 4-hour race of the RG Düren leads over the usual distance of four hours.