A top-class field of participants is preparing to get the fans going at the start of the VLN Endurance Championship Nürburgring. The ambitious long-haul pilots in the VLN at the 61st ADAC Westfalenfahrt will easily make up for what the predicted temperatures will not do if they drive their racing cars through the 'Green Hell' for four hours - from touring cars close to series production to the full-blown GT3 racing car ' float. The reigning DTM champion Marco Wittmann (Fürth), the champion of the Porsche Carrera Cup Germany, Philipp Eng (Stuttgart), his counterpart from Italy, Matteo Bairoli, and finally the current long-distance champions Rolf Derscheid (Much) and Michael Flehmer (Overath) and RCN champion Christian Büllesbach (Königswinter). It is precisely this unique mixture that has fascinated viewers for decades at the races for the VLN: amateur against professional or, figuratively speaking, David against Goliat. The first Nordschleife race in 2015 will be rounded off by two world premieres. Audi is launching the new R8 LMS recently launched at the Geneva Motor Show, and automotive enthusiast James Glickenhaus has two of his individual sports cars SCG003C in their luggage, which are supposed to master their baptism of fire on the most beautiful and demanding race track in the world.
The Nürburgring Nordschleife captivates racers from all over the world. And the VLN Endurance Championship Nürburgring has been the place where they meet ten times a year for 39 years. Adult sports cars from Aston Martin, Audi, Bentley, BMW, Ferrari, Lexus, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Porsche are used. But exciting motorsport is also offered at the other end of the performance scale. The pilots of the small Citroën Saxo or BMW 318is have nowhere near the horsepower of the 'Big Banger', but are at least as courageous when it comes to driving round to the heart of the loyal VLN fans. The cup classes from BMW, Opel and Toyota will keep the salt in the soup this year. Here - with a manageable budget - identical vehicles compete against each other in a direct duel. The one-make cups within the starting field have developed into the supreme discipline in recent years and offer the perfect platform for young talents and old hands. No fewer than 14 VLN titles are literally on the road in the cup classes.
The reigning champions, on the other hand, are individualists and a real garage team. In team Derscheid Motorsport, team boss and driver Rolf Derscheid is still working on the preparation of the near-series BMW 325i. Together with his long-time partner Michael Flehmer, he was given the honor of piloting number 2015 through the 'Green Hell' in 1. Said BMW 325i proved to be as reliable as a Swiss watch last season. And after the duo took top positions in the championship for years, both achieved their greatest triumph in 2014. If you asked pragmatist Derscheid today about his goals for the coming year, his answer would have been: "I just want to race and have fun with Michael." But who says that defending the title cannot be fun?
The focus of the first VLN race is without a doubt the question of the first overall victory. The premiere vehicles from Audi and Scuderia Cameroon Glickenhaus have a say here. But the competition is huge. The GT3 class is packed with over 20 vehicles. To list the top-class top teams and identified sports car aces would go beyond the scope. It is more worthwhile to take a look at the brave amateur pilots who in no way shy away from the competition with the professionals. A prime example is Otto Klohs (Ludwigshafen), who celebrated a fantastic success in third place at the season finale in the GT3 Porsche from Manthey Racing. Klohs has remained loyal to the team from Meuspath in the Eifel and shares the cockpit with Harald Schlotter (Schwebheim) and Jens Richter (Wurzen) during the 61st ADAC Westfalenfahrt. Also in the Frikadelli Racing team, Klaus Abbelen and Sabine Schmitz (both from Barweiler), two fast amateur pilots, are taking on the flounce - supported by Patrick Huisman from the Netherlands. Or the Walkenhorst Motorsport powered by Dunlop team: team boss Henry Walkenhorst (Melle) and Peter Posavac (Essen) are driving a BMW Z4 GT3. And these three teams are just a few examples of many amateur racers who are pursuing their passion in the VLN Endurance Championship Nürburgring.
If you want to experience honest and gripping motor sport with all its facets, you should not miss the season opener of the endurance championship. Family-friendliness is very important in the popular mass sports series. Tickets for the open grandstands at the Grand Prix circuit, a visit to the paddock, the pit lane and the starting grid are available at the box office for 15 euros. Adolescents up to the age of 14 have free admission. Entry to the 'Green Hell' experience is free around the Nordschleife.
The four-hour race starts on Saturday afternoon at 12 noon. Before that, the positions on the starting grid will be extended from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.