With just three weeks to go until the Nürburgring 24 Hours, this weekend’s VLN is the final chance for many of the participating teams to fine-tune their cars and for the drivers to adapt to the new safety rules that were implemented in the wake of the fatal accident during the VLN season opener last month. The preliminary entry list for Saturday’s race features 190 cars, with no less than 24 GT3 cars planning on taking the start. Almost all of the teams that will be aiming for the overall victory at the 24 Hours are present.
After narrowly missing out on winning the ADAC 24 Hours Qualifying Race two weeks ago the Haribo Racing Team is back for revenge, hoping to score a first victory with their Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. Uwe Alzen, Marco Holzer and Norbert Siedler are slated to drive the SLS. There will be five additional SLS’s on the starting grid, with two each from Rowe Racing and Black Falcon plus a single car from CarCollection Motorsport. At Rowe Racing, the drivers are Maro Engel, Jan Seyffarth and Renger van der Zande in one car, and Klaus Graf, Christian Hohenadel, Nico Bastian and Thomas Jäger in the other: both will definitely be in contention for the overall victory at the 40. DMV 4-Stunden-Rennen.
Black Falcon’s Blancpain Endurance Series line-up of Abdulaziz Al Faisal, Hubert Haupt and Yelmer Buurman is augmented by Bernd Schneider in their final preparation for the Nürburgring 24 Hours; the second car sees Vimal Mehta, Tim Scheerbarth and Adam Christodoulou sharing driving duties. The CarCollection Motorsport SLS has Alexander Mattschull, Peter Schmidt and Kenneth Heyer slated to drive.
After winning the ADAC 24 Hours Qualifying Race the BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert has elected to skip the final VLN race and instead will focus on the ADAC GT Masters season-opener at Oschersleben. Taking their place as the BMW standard bearer will be BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS, fielding two BMW Z4 GT3’s. Out of the assigned eight drivers, just Nicky Catsburg is not present this weekend. The Dutch racer will be at Barber Motorsports Park for the Pirelli World Challenge round in Alabama, USA. The driver line-ups should be Maxime Martin, Markus Palttala, Richard Westbrook and Lucas Luhr in one of the cars, while the second one sees Jörg Müller, Augusto Farfus and Dirk Adorf behind the wheel. Both driver line ups should have quite a chance of scoring an overall victory. Privateer squad Walkenhorst Motorsport will enter their two BMW Z4 GT3’s for John Edwards, Michaela Cerruti and Felipe Fernandes Laser plus Christian Bollrath, Matias Henkola and Henry Walkenhorst.
The new Audi R8 LMS will get its final outing before the 24 Hours this weekend as well, both Audi Sport Team Phoenix and Audi Sport Team WRT will enter two cars each in a push for their final preparation. Phoenix will have Marcel Fässler, Christopher Haase and Frank Stippler plus Chrisitan Mamerow, Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock behind the wheel of their two R8’s, while WRT will field duos in Christopher Mies/ Nico Müller and Pierre Kaffer/ Laurens Vanthoor. Two first generation Audi R8 LMS ultras will be fielded by the Audi race experience for Rod Salmon/ Alex Yoong and Marchy Lee/ Franky Cheng/ Shaun Thong.
There are three Porsche 911 GT3-R in the entry list as well, with Falken Motorsport, Frikadelli Racing and Manthey Racing each fielding a single 911. Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori will share the driving duties at Falken, while Frikadelli and Manthey will field their usual line-ups of Klaus Abbelen/ Sabine Schmitz/ Patrick Huisman and Otto Klohs/ Harald Schlotter/ Jens Richter, respectively.
British brands Aston Martin and Bentley will be represented with two cars each. Aston Martin Racing will field their two already-announced driver line-ups for the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Darren Turner/ Stefan Mücke/ Pedro Lamy in one car and Jonny Adam/ Matthias Lauda/ Richie Stanaway in the other. Over at Bentley, the line-ups should remain unchanged from the season-opening VLN round with Jeroen Bleekemolen/ Christian Menzel/ Lance-David Arnold and Christopher Brück/ Harold Primat in the two cars. A single Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 will be entered by the Nissan GT Academy Team RJN, with Lucas Ordonez, Michael Krumm, Alex Buncombe and Kazuki Hoshino.
Outside the class for GT3 cars, there are other significant entries. Richard Lietz will be supporting the Wochenspiegel Porsche 911 GT3 RSR line up of Georg Weiss, Jochen Krumbach and Oliver Kainz. And at Manthey Racing Michael Christensen will join Matteo Cairoli and Christoph Breuer in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR.
This VLN round will also be the final chance for the teams to secure a starting spot in the Top 30 Qualifying session; 16 starting spots are already taken and four additional spots are up for grabs this weekend. Qualifying starts at 8:30 am on Saturday, before the race gets underway at noon.