VLN 8

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I was very happy to find that, for the first time this year, sunshine greeted me when I woke up Saturday morning. Not a cloud to be seen! However, there had been a heavy dew overnight and the ground was very wet, which wouldn’t make way for dry tarmac until there was 30 minutes left of the qualifying session. We’ve all had a lot of wet running this year at VLN, and it was clear the track would dry up but not with enough time for all of us to get a run, so Christian and I elected to not go out in qualifying. David was sent out at the end to go for a time on slicks, and we ended up on pole position, so it was as good a start to the weekend as we could’ve hoped for!

Christian started the race and made a great getaway only for the race to be red flagged after a multiple car accident shortly after the start. At the second attempt, he repeated the excellent start, lead onto the Nordschleife and appeared in the lead at the end of lap one. At this point he started to struggle as the tyres went off and dropped to fifth at the beginning of lap 4. He held on until the end of lap 5 when he pitted from P5 and I took over down in P11. In a stint littered with Code 60 zones (sometimes 3 different ones in lap!), I passed the #23 Mercedes then caught the sister Walkenhorst car and was ahead by the end of the next lap. After a few laps I was up to P4 and had the second and third place Mercedes' in sight. I made some inroads into them before pitting at the end of lap 13 to hand over to David. He completed a strong stint before handing back to Christian who took the car to the end of the race. The leading Mercedes was a long way ahead, but after all the pit stops shook out, we finished a strong P2, giving us consecutive VLN podiums.

The last round of VLN is on 26 October and it would be nice to end the season on a high.

VLN 7

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Overall Podium at VLN 7

After yet another VLN race punctuated by showers, we fought hard and ended up with another podium at the end of four hours in VLN 7.

Qualifying was a full wet affair and culminated in a tenth place start me and team mates Nicky Catsburg and David Pittard in the #34 Playstation BMW M6 GT3.

I was given the task of starting the race on a wet track, but the rain had stopped, so conditions would be ever changing. I knew we would struggle for the opening couple of laps, but there was already a slight dry line at Adenau Bridge on the formation lap, so was confident the track would come to us. It still took a while for a dry line to appear, especially under the trees but with every lap it got better and better. The car came alive and I was able to make up places.

From lap 3 the Walkenhorst Motorsport engineer came on the radio to say I was the fastest car on the track and I was making up places every lap. I pitted at the end of lap 8 and passed the then leading Phoenix Audi at the end of the lap and pitted from the lead. A dry line had appeared and the decision was made to change to slick tyres at the pit stop to hand over to Nicky Catsburg. Nicky continued the good work but after a lap the rain returned and he was back in for wets after two laps and resumed in P5.

After completing a strong stint on a track that was now dry again, he handed over to David Pittard who resumed on slick tyres and the track, for once stayed dry to the end, David bringing the car home a strong third.

It was a strong team effort from everyone in very difficult conditions and we have to be happy with another podium, but it would be nice to have a dry race for a change!

VLN 8 is coming up in two weeks on 12 October.

VLN 6

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After a very sunny Friday, the weather changed to the now customary for VLN 2019, damp and grey Saturday. It's fair to say that our package is more competitive in the dry than the wet and this wasn't ideal but we had to keep pushing and see where we were at the end of the race. David Pittard and I were joined for the weekend by Nicky Catsburg while Christian Krognes was away on family duties. I was first out on Saturday morning for qualifying in very tricky, wet conditions. This was my first lap in "proper" wet conditions on the Nordschleife and, as is expected, it was a bit of a voyage of discovery. I did my one lap, then handed over to Nicky for his lap and David finished the session with a few laps and ended in P20 on the grid.

David started the race and the rain eased almost immediately. By the end of the first hour some were changing to cut slicks and at the first stop David stayed in the car and changed to full slicks. As the track dried, the car came alive and he made up some places into the top ten when he handed over to Nicky. There were reports from other drivers that the track was now wet in parts, so Nicky was sent out on wet tyres and brought the car in to hand over to me after four laps. As he was on his in lap the rain fell heavier and I could see some of the lead cars moving around and aquaplaning on the live feed. Nicky brought the car in but as I was about to leave the box, the crew spotted an issue with the left rear tyre, so a replacement was brought out and put on the car before I could splash my way down the pitlane. I was sent out with clear orders to keep it on the road and after a couple of laps of feeling my way around I felt more comfortable. The rain came down even harder for the last couple of laps and I just concentrated on being consistent and safe and brought the car home in P7. I can honestly say that I have never had to concentrate so hard during a stint as I had to in VLN 6, but I have completed a stint on the Nordschleife in very wet conditions which is good experience for the future. On to VLN 7 where we can hopefully have some dry running and get the car at the sharp end again. Thanks to Walkenhorst Motorsport as always for their top work.

VLN 5


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VLN 5

P5 was a positive result considering we had no testing on the Friday and qualified a long way down the grid due to worsening conditions as the session went on! As our car suffered accident damage in the Spa 24 hours, the Walkenhorst Motorsport guys did a fantastic job to get it to the circuit late on Friday evening with the car looking pristine and ready to race! Most of the frontrunners in the field had spent all of Friday testing in perfect conditions, so we were slightly on the back foot for the start of the 6 hour race on Saturday.

We woke up to heavy rain and dark skies on Saturday morning, which meant a very wet start to the day with qualifying starting imminently. There was a glimmer of hope before qualifying as the forecast was for the rain to clear, so teammate David Pittard did a lap to get a time on the board! Whilst we waited for conditions to improve, they unfortunately got worse to the point that it was almost not worth the risk going on track. We tried for another lap at the end of the session but the track was awash so we started some way down the grid.

David started the race, he did a great job in the opening laps to get into the top ten then pitted at the end of lap 2 to make an early change to slicks. This was a good call which resulted in us leapfrogging up to P6 once everybody had stopped. I got into the car next and did a double stint lasting around 2 hours 20 minutes. The track had dried nicely and it was great to get some quality time in the car, even though there were lots of yellow flags and Code 60s, some of which lasted for an hour! The car felt good and ran like clockwork, and after my double stint, I came in and handed over to Christian Krognes from P6 with a couple of hours to go. He had a great battle with the Falken Porsche, eventually finishing just ahead in P5.

It was an excellent effort by everyone and the freshly rebuilt car didn't miss a beat; thanks to Walkenhorst Motorsport for all their hard work. VLN reverts to the traditional 4 hour format for VLN 6 on 7 September.



Podium at VLN 4

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It's been a long break since VLN 3, so a podium in my first run in the SP 9 Pro class is very satisfying and a good platform for the rest of the year.

My last race on the Nordschleife was back in March at VLN 1, where I won the SP 9 Pro Am class. VLN 2 was cancelled due to snow and at VLN 3 my car retired before it was my turn to get behind the wheel, so I was looking forward to getting some laps in - I had been on the entry list for four races in a GT3 car but had only raced in two!

In spite of the best efforts by the team to get me time behind the wheel on Friday, the weather intervened once more after one flying lap. At the beginning of the second lap, rain drops appeared on sections of the 16 mile circuit, while other sections were dry but there was a deluge at the end of the lap and I tiptoed back to the pits. After waiting for the standing water to clear and a change to wets, the sun soon appeared but within a lap and a half the track was dry again

The weather forecast was for possible showers during the four hour race on Saturday but the day began well for us when my team mate put it on pole! There was a long delay during qualifying for barrier damage - this meant the main race was reduced to 3.5 hours. I was in the car for the second stint after a good opening hour by David Pittard. I found myself in P6 after the pit stop and after a couple of rivals pitted was up to P4, then moved past the No 5 Phoenix Racing Audi up to P3 while a rain shower moved across the circuit. Unlike the previous day, the rain was relatively light and only affected a few parts of the circuit. It soon moved on leaving us with a dry track once more. There were yellow flag periods on every one of my laps, including being held up by some drivers who were going some way below the 60 or 120 limit at times, but we were still in contention when I handed the car over to Christian Krognes from P3 for the final stint. Once everyone had completed their stops, Christian closed a 5 second gap to the leading Mercedes and a three car battle raged for the next hour before the final cycle of pit stops interrupted proceedings. Christian pitted from P2, but after a slightly longer pit stop dropped to P3 and ran out of time to close the gap to the second placed car, so he had to settle for third.

My team mates and Walkenhorst Motorsport did a fantastic job - I really enjoyed battling at the front of the field and was immediately comfortable in the car. I'm looking forward to VLN 5 in a few weeks time as it's a six hour race and we can really get our teeth into it!

I'm back at the Nordschleife for VLN 5 on 3 August.