Excitement until the last second
The VLN opening race of the 2019 season was decided only on the last few meters. Nick Catsburg, Marco Wittmann and John Edwards triumphed in the 65th ADAC Westfalenfahrt in the BMW M6 GT3 of ROWE Racing. The advantage over Fred Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet in the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Manthey-Racing in second place was 5.486 seconds at the end. A third-place for Connor De Phillippi, Tom Blomqvist and Mikkel Jensen completed the perfect season start for the team from St. Ingbert in the ROWE sister car.
The VLN fans had to wait a long time before the engines finally sounded around the legendary Nordschleife. The season opener began with a delay due to heavy fog. The timed training was reduced to 60 minutes and started at 12:30. The pole position was also secured by ROWE Racing. Connor De Phillippi in the BMW M6 GT3 set the fastest time of 8: 01.192 minutes. The top 10 vehicles were within just 2,550 seconds. The race started at 15:28 and was also shortened to a distance of 2:45 hours.
The lead changed seven times in the race. In addition to the top three vehicles also the Lamborghini GT3 from Konrad Motorsport collected some leadership kilometers. The showdown came in the last round. Pilet had gone in the lead in the last round but in the end, he drew the shortest straw. Edwards had a better reaction at the end of a Code 60 phase and took the lead. The race director checked the onboard camera of the Porsche immediately after the finish and finally confirmed the result. “The Porsche driver may have slept a bit,” Wittmann grinned. Pilet took the defeat calmly: “That’s just how life sometimes is.”
In addition to the direct exchange of blows in the last lap, victory and defeat were decided – mind you under the two ROWE cars – by strategy. “We stayed out one lap longer in the first stint and the second in the same. So we had a very short last stop, “explained Wittmann. “We should have won,” said Blomqvist. “We had the pole, a perfect start, a great first stint and unfortunately the weaker strategy at the end. But of course, the success of the team is fantastic. ”
In fourth place, Klaus Bachler and Jörg Bergmeister missed the podium in the Porsche 911 GT3 R of Falken Motorsports by just 0.281 seconds. Fifth place went to Frikadelli Racing also a Porsche team. Vincent Kolb and Frank Stippler in sixth place drove the fastest Audi R8 LMS, and Mann-Filter Team HTP Motorsport took seventh place with drivers Maximilian Götz, Christian Hohenadel and Raffaele Marciello as the best Mercedes-AMG team. The best-placed Pro-Am team in the GT3 class was Walkenhorst Motorsport with drivers Rudi Adams, Immanuel Vinke and Jody Fannin. “A good start into the new season,” concluded Adam.
Fabian Vettel made a very good start in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Rooster Rojo J2Racing. The brother of the four-time Formula 1 World Champion completed 20 laps together with Swiss Philip Ellis and Dutchman Indy Dontje. In 14th, the trio finished 4: 48.915 minutes from the winners. Also on target was ex-Formula 1 star Martin Brundle. On the way to getting his big Nordschleife license – the Briton is planning a joint VLN race with his son Alex this year – Brundle shared the Aston Martin Vantage V8 with Marco Müller and Alexander West. Together, the trio completed 17 laps.
First Championship leaders of the season 2019 are the winners Catsburg, Wittmann, and Edwards. The GT3 Pro class was the busiest with 20 vehicles. “My first race this year and my first victory, that’s the way I like it,” grinned Wittmann. After the first race, the trio is also leading in the ROWE Speed Trophy by VLN, endowed with € 25,000 at the end of the year. In second place are Torsten Kratz, Oliver Frisse and Moran Gott, who won the class V4 in the BMW 325i of Team AVIA Sorg Racing.
For the complete results of the first VLN race of 2019, CLICK HERE
The second round of the VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft Nürburgring will take place in three weeks. The 44th DMV 4-Hour Race will continue on April 13th over the usual distance of four hours.
- Photocredit: VLN Facebook
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