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VLN: 38th DMV Münsterlandpokal, Race Report

Exactly 151 cars found their way to the Nürburgring for the final VLN race of the season and as so many times this season the Eifel greeted the teams with wet weather, resulting in no top times in Qualifying. Right from when the lights went green for the 90 minutes timed practice it was the Phoenix-Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra of Marc Basseng, Laurens Vanthoor and Chris Mamerow that settled into the top of the timing charts. At the end of the session they lowered their time to a 9:34.934 minutes. Second behind the Audi was the BMW Z4 GT3 of Uwe Alzen Automotive , a mere 2,5 seconds behind.

The second Phoenix-Audi, driven by Johannes Stuck, Ferdinand Stuck and Frank Stippler, qualified in third. The next four spots were equally distributed between Porsche and Rowe, with the Frikadelli GT3-R in fourth and the two Rowe-Racing SLS taking the Manthey-RSR into a sandwich. Positions eight and nine went to the Jürgen Alzen Ford GT and the GetSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. After struggeling early on in qualifying with the performance of their Nissan GT-R, Alex Buncombe was able to put together a lap of 9:56.876 minutes, good enough for tenth. But the paring, Buncombe – Lucas Ordonez, was in a positive mood as the race looked to be run in the dry and they had worked out a good dry set up during the test sessions on Friday.

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With the rack starting to dry up the main question on the starting grid was slicks, cut slics, intermediates or full wet tires. When the lights went green it was Marc Basseng using his pole position to take the lead, Nick Tandy in the Manthey-RSR charged up to second position. Uwe Alzen settled in to third, ahead of Patrick Huisman and Frank Stippler. In the opening laps Marc Basseng was able to get away from his competitors and after lap two his closest competitor, the Manthey-Porsche went missing. Nick Tandy crashed on oil at Kesselchen. Tandy tried to keep on racing, but parked the car just some kilometres further down the road. Now it was in the hands of Frikadelli Racing and Uwe Alzen Automotve to hunt down the red and white Phoenix-R8. Both of the Rowe-Racing Mercedes Benz SLS visited the pitlane on lap 1 and 2 to take on intermediates.

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At the end of three laps there went some shuffeling on, with Marc Basseng, Uwe Alzen, Frank Stippler, Oliver Kainz among others dived for the pitlane to take on slicks. This resulted in the Frikadelli-Porsche taking the lead and the GT Academy Nissan GT-R found itself in second. Alex Buncombe then pitted to take on slicks. The gamble of the Frikadelli Porsche, starting on slicks, definitely paid off as its lead after five laps was over 90 seconds. Second was the Rowe-SLS of Marko Hartung, Michael Zehe and Jan Seyffarth. About a further minute back the GT Academy Nissan GT-R was able to go into third after its pitstop, staying out a lap longer then the rest of the field definitely paid off. But Lucas Ordonez was being hunted down by Nico Bastian in the second Rowe-SLS and the Uwe Alzen Z4 GT3.

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Remarkably the Nissan GT-R was the fastest car out on track and when the Frikadelli Racing Porsche pitted, they found themselves in the lead. But all of this came at a price, due to a yellow flag infringement they got hit with a stop and go penalty. On lap 12 the race for the Nissan GT-R went worse, when it hit the back of the Phoenix-Audi #37 resulting in a broken front bumper and splitter. After a lengthy repair the car returned to the track to do one additional lap before being retired for good. Up to that the car was running very impressive.

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After the second round of pit stops it was the Phoenix-Audi back in the lead. The battle for second to fourth was a tight one, with the Rowe-SLS of Seyffarth/Bastian, the Uwe Alzen Z4 and the second Phoenix-R8 running nose to tail. But the battle was only a short lived one, because the Phoenix-R8 stranded at the Hohenrain chicane and had to be towed into the pitlane before continuing. And the Rowe-SLS had to be retired with gearbox problems, minutes before that its sister SLS crashed with Michael Zehe behind the wheel. This put the Frikadelli-Porsche into third.

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Due to their varying pit stop strategy the Frikadelli-Racing Porsche found itself in the lead once again, but when Henri Moser pitted to hand over to Klaus Abbelen the Phoenix-Racing R8 was able to retake the lead. Due to the strong driving of Henri Moser the Frikadelli GT3 R returned to the track ahead of the Alzen Z4. The finishing order was set, with Marc Basseng, Laurens Vanthoor and Chris Mamerow taking the third race victory of the season for the Phoenix-Racing squad. For Marc Basseng it was his 25th overall victory, he is now only three wins behind the win record holder Jürgen Alzen, Ullrich Richter and Olaf Manthey.

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Just like at the last race it was the Frikadelli Racing Porsche in second and the Uwe Alzen Z4 in third. For Frikadelli Racing this closed out a very successful season, scoring its first race victory and also finishing on the podium multiple times. While for the squad of Uwe Alzen, Philipp Wlazik and Nicolas Kentenich was able to close out its season on a high note after a year that was marked by many problems. Fourth went to the Busch Twins Audi, ahead of the Wochenspiegel Porsche. The neon yellow and blue Audi and the 911 had a race long battle.

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The overall VLN champion went to the brother Tim and Dirk Groneck in their family run Renault Clio. But the final race of the season was definitely not a walk in the park, even though they only had to score a fifth place to secure the title. Dirk Groneck collided with another car after about 90 minutes and he had to limp back to the pits, where with manpower coming from many other teams the Clio was fixed. They returned to the track in seventh but were able to fight back and finished the race in fourth class position. This was enough to ensure the championship for the pairing.

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After a season that was hit by many problems and crashes raceunion Teichmann Racing was finally able to take home the class win in the Porsche Cup class. Markus Palttala and Stefan Landmann were visibly happy with their breakthrough win. The GT4 cars class was won once again by the Bonk Motorsport BMW M3 GT4 of Adam Christodoulou, Jens Moetefindt and Alexander Mies, this also secured the VLN Junior Trophy for Alexander Mies. For Adam Sharpe and Rob Smith it was another victory in their SP6 class BMW M3 GTR closing out a very successful season. Rob Huff’s VLN debut didn’t go as planned as the reigning WTCC champion didn’t get to drive in the race, because his teammate Rob Holland crashed the car before he was able to take the wheel.

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Sören Herweg