The VLN endurance championship Nürburgring enters the second round. A look at the top and the depth of the impressive field of participants promises: lots of action and excitement. More than 190 vehicles have been named for the 41st DMV 4-hour race, the second round of the VLN Endurance Championship Nürburgring 2016 - a good 20 more than at the start of the season four weeks ago. The winners of the opening race, Frank Stippler and Anders Fjordbach in the Phoenix-Audi R8 LMS, have to prevail again against a big competition if they want to repeat their success: In the SP9, around 25 GT3 teams will start and aim for overall victory to take.
If, after the qualifying session (8: 30 o'clock to 10 o'clock) the starting light goes out at point 12 o'clock, a large number of teams jump into positions and points in the smaller classes. Above all in the BMW M235i Racing Cup, which with more than 20 participants is likely to be the second strongest class on Saturday and ensured high-class racing action at the start of the season.
Look into the classes
In addition to the V5, it is again the cup classes that make up a large part of the field of participants. The Munich class trip showed just how tight it was there at the start of the season. The protagonists of the first run will again fight for the class victory. And that could be doubly valuable this season, as long as a team manages to assert itself as a series winner to have such a big say in the fight for the VLN championship title.
A goal that the duo Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey from Bonk Motorsport seemed to be closest to after the first run. However, to repeat the opening victory will be anything but easy. Lone fighter Stefan van Campenhoudt (Team Schirmer) already showed in the previous season with seven V4 class victories which wood he was made of; The Belgian missed the Cup 5 victory in the first race of the season just over ten seconds. Another top favorite in this class is the team Scheid-Honert Motorsport with Thomas Jäger and Rudi Adams; Youngster hunter and veteran Adams only slipped through the fingers at the start of the win because of a time penalty.
As expected, the number of starters in the Cayman GT4 Trophy by Manthey-Racing is on the rise. If there were ten cars at the premiere of the new Cup in early April, it will probably be 13 in the second race. More competition for the two opening winners Marc Hennerici and Moritz Oberheim (Raceunion Teichmann Racing), who will have to deal with their toughest competitors, Kai Riemer and Arndt Meier from Arkenau Motorsport, among others.
The V5 class is also very crowded: 15 teams compete for the class victory there. Above all Dominik Thiemann, Hajo Müller and Jens Riemer, who want to repeat the success from the start in the BMW E36. In addition to the well-known adversaries such as Christian Büllesbach, Andreas Schettler and Daniel Zils (Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport), the trio in the V5 is dealing with a well-known professional: DTM driver Edoardo Mortara starts in the Prosport-Performance team's Porsche Cayman, together with Robin Frijns and Thomas Bolz.
Look at the top
Dimensions and class even in the most powerful classes, the SP9 and the SPX, in which, combined, there will be over 30 vehicles. Phoenix Racing wants to be at the top of the overall classification again. But the competition within the brand is already huge: The Belgian WRT team relies on René Rast, Pierre Kaffer and Nico Müller, last year's winner of the 24-hour race, among others. And of course the Busch twins Dennis and Marc, along with Christian Mamerow, are in the new Audi R8 LMS.
Like the Twin Busch team, Frikadelli Racing is one of VLN's regular customers. Klaus Abbelen, Sabine Schmitz, Patrick Huismann and Norbert Siedler finally want to prove the full potential of their new Porsche 911 GT3 R on the 24,358 kilometer-long combination of Nordschleife and short connection. Just like Georg Weiss, Oliver Kainz, Jochen Krumbach and Mike Stursberg, who want to forget the opening race in which the Porsche 911 GT3 R of the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey retired very early after an accident. Problems in the first run also had Manthey Racing: Tire damage at both factory 911 prevented a top placement. The racing team from Meuspath sends three new GT3 Porsche into the second run. In the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Falken Motorsports, the trio Peter Dumbreck, Wolf Henzler and Alexandre Imperatori want to do significantly better than on 18 rank in the first race.
The Audi and Porsche are faced with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 fleet in the battle for overall victory. Above all, the cars from Black Falcon and Team Haribo Racing. The Black Falcon Quartet Bernd Schneider, Maro Engel, Adam Christodoulou and Manuel Metzger delivered a remarkable duel to the last round with the Haribo Quartet Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz and Jan Seyffarth and secured themselves finally third place.
The BMW teams also want to significantly improve their performance on the Nordschleife. For Rowe Racing, Klaus Graf and Maxime Martin as well as Alexander Sims and Philipp Eng compete in the new BMW M6 GT3. Walkenhorst Motorsports relies, among other things, on the pairing Matias Henkola and Michele di Martino, who achieved the best BMW result with seventh place at the season opener.
While Jürgen Alzen and Philipp Wlazik want to cause a sensation in their Ford GT - just like the two exotic cars from Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus - Aston Martin collects the first VLN kilometers of the year in the second race of the season. Matthias Lauda and Richie Stanaway as well as Darren Turner and Nicki Thiim make their debut in the new Aston Martin Vantage GT3 on the Nordschleife.
Photo: SB-Medien, Stefan Baldauf, Guido ten Brink