SP9 Pro Am class win at VLN1

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After a few laps on Friday, we arrived at the circuit on Saturday morning ready for qualifying, only to be greeted by fog which meant a long delay while we waited for the Eifel Mountains to appear! The fog eventually started to lift and a revised timetable was issued with a shorter race of just under 3 hours. Four hours after the original start time, qualifying finally got under way. My team mates Rudi Adams and Immanuel Vinke had a short run each before it was my turn to get a lap in. I did my lap of the Grand Prix loop before taking the short cut to start my lap. A slower car was in front of me, so I dropped back to avoid being slowed by him in the single file row of cones that lead onto the start finish straight. However, I misjudged how slow he was so had to back off before getting back on the throttle, badly compromising my run onto my timed lap. After that I had a relatively clear run until I caught up to the Glickenhaus which was impossible to overtake on the Nordschleife. It was very quick in a straight line and I had to follow it through the twisty bits. In spite of this, I qualified 16th in a very strong field and was looking forward to starting the race.

I didn't have enough tyre temperature at the start which hampered me for the first half lap but I managed to avoid the carnage that unfolded in front of me and found myself behind the number 30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche in P17. It was holding me up through the corners but had good straightline speed so it wasn’t possible to pass it on the straights. I stayed as close as possible while we lapped traffic, ready for any opportunity to get ahead. After 4 laps, I got past through traffic on the Grand Prix loop and pulled away, closing down the other Frikadelli team car which was some way up the road by now. My in lap was relatively clear and I set a purple and green sectors before handing over to Rudi Adams in P8 and second in pro Am. Rudi did his usual professional job and moved up to P1 in class when the leading Audi went off the road, before handing over to Immanuelle still in the class lead and P12 overall, which he held to the end. Walkenhorst Motorsport did their usual excellent job - it's nice to be back on the podium and I'm already looking forward to VLN 2 in just over two weeks!


China GT Sepang

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After a couple of days testing, working on setup and getting my team mate Betty Chen used to the car for her first GT3 race, good progress was being made and we were ready for qualifying on Friday. I qualified in 7th in a tight session, the tyres taking a few laps to come in, so we had work to do. Betty qualified in P7 in her session as well, but we were optimistic of moving forward in the races.

I started race one and managed to move from P7 up to P3 by the end of the first lap. I couldn't do anything about passing the front two but kept in touch while putting a gap between myself and fourth place. Unfortunately a safety car intervened as the pit window opened which closed the field up. I handed over to Betty who did a good job to bring the car home in P7.

Betty started race two and avoided a large startline shunt before moving through the field to hand over to me in P6. I got my head down and moved up to P4, chasing the number 90 sister car. I was catching him as well as the second placed Lamborghini, but was being caught by the number 911 Porsche as my tyres struggled in the high temperatures. I passed the Lamborghini, but couldn't keep the Porsche behind me and caught the third place BMW as another safety car came out. I had a lapped car in front of me in the safety car train which must have had an issue as I lost 8 seconds to third place behind it under the safety car, and with two laps of green flag running to go, I had to settle for fourth.

Overall a promising start to the year and a great job by FIST-Team AAI and my team mate in her first GT3 race.

Jody to China GT with FIST - Team AAI

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Jody Fannin joins FIST - Team AAI for China GT

2019 is going to be a busy year for Jody Fannin as he expands his programme to include the China GT Championship with FIST - Team AAI and their BMW M6 GT3. He will share the car with Betty Chen in her debut season. 

"I'm looking forward to expanding my horizons to Asia and to competing at Grand Prix Circuits like Sepang and Shanghai as well as other new tracks which have been built in China. The championship is going from strength to strength and it has a strong entry of professional teams and drivers. I've currently only raced the BMW M6 GT3 once but immediately felt very comfortable - switching between the cool temperatures of the Nurburgring and the heat of Asia as well as the different tyre brands will be really good experience for me. I've always worked hard on my fitness and it'll get a good test in the heat and humidity of Malaysia - I'm looking forward to the challenge."

Team AAI was established in 1991 by Jun-San Chen, who drives one of the BMW M6 GT3's. The multiple championship winning Taiwanese team will run four BMW's in China GT, three in the GT3 class and one in GT4. 

The first round of the China GT Championship takes place on 15-17 March 2019 at the Sepang Circuit in Malaysia.

VLN 2019 Press Release

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Pic: Max Bermel

Jody Fannin joins Walkenhorst Motorsport for 2019 VLN GT3 Campaign

Jody Fannin is delighted to announce that he will be joining Walkenhorst Motorsport for a VLN campaign in their BMW M6 GT3.

After an impressive outing in the BMW M6 GT3 at the last round of VLN in 2018, the next natural step was to undertake a full season in 2019.

Jody Fannin: "After VLN 9 at the end of last season, the team and I spoke about potentially doing a full season this year and I'm delighted that we've been able to put it together. Walkenhorst Motorsport run a factory BMW in the Intercontinental GT Challenge and know the car and the Nordschleife well, so I'm confident I'm in the right place. I'm getting more and more familiar with the nuances of the full version of the Nurburgring and the unique traffic challenges that the VLN brings. I love the track and the car instilled confidence from the moment I got into it for the first time last October, so the first round can't come quickly enough!" 

Walkenhorst Motorsport, winners of the 2018 Spa 24 Hours is an established and successful team who run a fleet of BMW's in VLN: "Jody started with us at VLN 3 in 2018 in an M235i Racing. He was back in the same car during VLN 4, then upgraded to an M4 GT4 at VLN6 and definitely proved his skills and speed rapidly. At VLN 9 he shared the wheel with Henry Walkenhorst and Andreas Ziegler in the M6 GT3 with a 2nd place in SP9 PRE. It was his first time in an M6 GT3 and we really were amazed by his implementation of performance."

The first round of the VLN is on Saturday 23 March 2019 with a further 8 rounds over the year, ending with the last round on 26 October.

VLN 9 - GT3 debut on the Nordschleife

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Thanks to Max Bermel - NRING INFO for the pic

After a last minute change of plans I was promoted to the Walkenhorst M6 GT3 car for VLN 9, alongside team owner Henry Walkenhorst and team regular Andreas Ziegler. After getting my permit in a BMW 235i Cup car and having done a race in the BMW M4 GT4 car, I was looking forward to being back in a GT3 car after a couple of years away and to being back in something with downforce! I managed 4 laps on Friday afternoon during the traditional track day where there's an opportunity for VLN regulars and others to give their sponsors passenger rides around the 24.4 km rollercoaster that is the Nurburgring Nordschleife. Being in a GT 3 car, I didn't have any passengers to take round so I could just concentrate on getting my eye in with a car that's considerably faster than the other cars I'd been around there in. It gave me a good feel for the car and getting used to weaving in and out of the traffic which can be considerably slower. It's amazing how quickly you catch other cars!

Saturday dawned cold and very foggy and everybody waited around as the qualifying session was delayed for about an hour after the scheduled start time while the cloud lifted. I was on track second of our three drivers to set a grid slot - I managed an 8:12.2 which meant we lined up 19th on the grid - considering the quality and experience of the drivers around me, it wasn't a bad start and I was looking forward to more laps in the race. What I wasn't expecting was a few left over patches of thick fog on a very quick part of the circuit which kept me on my toes.....just got to keep it pinned!

The plan was to double stint me in the second half of the race and I was grateful for the extra time in the car. Henry and Andreas did a good job to bring the car in after multiple Code 60s for various incidents and I got into the car with about an hour and 45 minutes to go. It was invaluable to spend some "proper" time in the car and to get into a rhythm around the unique challenges of the Nordschleife. There's no margin for error, so you have to pick your moments for overtaking and when to be patient. I equalled my qualifying time on my first flying lap and then had Code 60's and yellow flags at various points around the circuit for the whole first stint - this is all part of the challenge of VLN. Things calmed down a couple of laps after I had pitted for the final stop and I shaved 7 seconds off my previous best with an 8 minutes 05.037 which put me among the GT3 Pro driver's times which was very satisfying first time out. It would be good to start another race weekend now that I have had some time in the car. Thanks to Walkenhorst Motorsport for a fantastic car and for bringing me up to speed round the Nordschleife over the last few months.

On to 2019!