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A Farewell To ‘The Golden Bear’

DSC looks back at Haribo Racing's sportscar history

This is a trifle delayed piece but for good reason, Stephen Kilbey hunting down the early years of the Haribo brand in motorsport, the DSC Ed not wanting to sign off on the piece without featuring a picture of an Haribo Olaf Manthey (see below).

After eight years of racing at the top-end of Europe’s GT ranks, Haribo Racing has announced its exit from motorsport.

A fan favourite among those who head to the Nürburgring for the 24 Hours each year, as well as the locals who attend VLN races, Haribo Racing has enjoyed a successful run since it returned to racing in 2010, competing with a variety of manufacturers and with an incredible array of top drivers.

Its decision to go GT racing came after a 16-year hiatus; the brand having previous ties in motorsport from 1970 to 1994.

Prior to racing in in GT3, Haribo Racing competed endurance touring car races, scoring no real major wins, but racing with a slew of ‘classic’ machinery.

The team, named Haribo Racing Team Bonn, believe it or not, raced with Fiat 128s, Ford Escorts, Talbot Horizons, Peugeot 205s and VW Golf GTis among others in events like the RAC Tourist Trophy and ETCC Grand Prix of Brno.

With all that history in mind, DSC has decided to take a moment to remember team’s more recent, eight-year run in GT racing.

The ‘Golden Bear’ made its VLN debut in the opening round of the 2010 season, the team getting off to a solid start with a 13th place overall finish for its Porsche GT3 Cup driven by Hans Guido Riegel, Mike Stursberg, and Georg Berlandy.

Later in the season, its first N24 also produced an impressive result, a top 20 overall finish and 10th in the SP9 class for the team, joined by Wolfgang Kohler for the race.

The team then capped off the year with its first win, and only win in VLN competition with Porsche, when Lucas Luhr and Richard Westbrook won in their Porsche 911 GT3 R shortly after the 24, in July.

The team’s second crack at the N24 in 2011, saw the team racing with Team Manthey again and a very capable line-up of Richard Westbrook, Christian Menzel, Mike Stursburg and Hans Guido Riegel, a member of the family who founded and still own Haribo.

Its Porsche 911 GT3 R fought hard in the race, which co-incidentally won by another one of Manthey’s Porsches after a titanic battle with the BMW Motorsport factory team’s M3 GT2 and various Audi and Mercedes customer efforts, finishing an impressive 13th overall after a 149 laps.

Prior to that appearance, Haribo Racing scored a very promising result in the VLN too to kick off the year, a sixth place finish in the season opener, and began racing in Blancpain, taking part in three rounds of the inaugural Endurance Series season.

That year, which would be the first of three years racing in Blancpain for the team, saw Haribo’s programme begin at the Spa 24 Hours, where the team’s Porsche finished 21st overall after 485 laps of the Francorchamps circuit with none other than Richard Westbrook joining the team (below).

A year later, and into its third season of racing, Haribo’s solid finishes at the ‘Ring continued, though the team failed to finish the N24 for the first time, despite having one of the more head-turning line-ups in the race, and two entries.

For the 2012 edition Westbrook (again) shared the team’s Callaway Chevrolet Corvette with GM factory drivers Tommy Milner and Jan Magnussen, and a young Daniel Keilwitz, who went on to win the ADAC GT title last year with Callaway. A puncture early in the race while the car was running in the top 10 proved to be the catalyst for its eventual demise after 41 laps.

It’s second car, a Porsche, which featured Emmanuel Collard (an N24 class winner back in 2003) in its line-up, adding to the list of big-name drivers that have competed with the team, also failed to finish.

In 2013, the team reverted back to racing with a Manthey-prepared Porsche, the team competing in Blancpain for the final time, VLN and the N24. It’s highlight once again came at the ‘Ring, when the team finished 12 overall. Not it’s best finish, that came later, but one of its more promising runs.

It also ran a Cup car in the race, which didn’t make it to the flag, but for the record saw Dominik Farnbacher take the start.

Oh, and the team also gave out special edition Haribo sweets that year to fans and the press, shaped like Olaf Manthey as a thank you to everyone’s favourite bearded Porsche team principal.

2014 co-incidentally, marked the final year of Haribo’s ties with Manthey, at a point where Porsches failed to feature on pace up front in the big races, prompting the team to switch brands to Mercedes-Benz, in its continued effort to try and win a big race.

Unfortunately, its last ride with Porsche, with factory driver Jorg Bergmiester headlining its driver crew, the team wouldn’t make the finish.

With the Mercedes-Benz era underway for Haribo in 2015, better results would follow.

It’s first year with the Stuttgart-based marque was with the Mercedes-Benz SLS GT3, in its final season at the top of the brand’s GT tree.

But it wasn’t until 2016 that Haribo Racing would score its second and third wins. The first came in August at the VLN’s 39th RCM DMV Grenzlandrennen with Jan Seyffarth and Lance David Arnold in its new AMG GT3, before the team took a memorable win at the end of the season in VLN 8.

The team inherited the victory after a post-race penalty for the leading Manthey Porsche, after the two cars battled hard at the end of the race, originally finishing just three tenths apart.

As well as 2016 being Haribo’s best in VLN, it was also the year in which the team scored its best N24 finish. In heartbreaking fashion, Haribo’s challenging AMG GT3 (the team ran two with the intention of parking the car further down the order at the end), would finish third overall, after the unfortgettable three-way fight for the win in the final hour.

The scrap was between the “Golden Bear”‘s #88 entry of Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, Max Götz and Jan Seyffarth, the winning Black Falcon car, and HTP’s lead AMG, which was barged out of the lead on the final lap after a dramatic fuel between Christian Hohenadel and the eventual victor, Maro Engel.

That year, Haribo led the majority of the race before a costly penalty for disobeying Code 60 rules cost them dearly in the final hours.

Unfortunately, the team would be unable to repeat its 2016 form in the 2017 race, finishing ninth overall. And, that, as it turned out, was all she wrote.