VLN 9

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A third place finish was a great way to round off the season after a fight through the field.

The last race of the season came round extremely quickly; I can’t believe the opening race was back in March! After our two previous strong results, we were hoping for another successful weekend to end the season. We tried a couple of new setup changes during the Friday evening test session, and learnt a lot, so with that new knowledge we were feeling good with the car and looking forward to another dry Saturday. As usual, there was a layer of dew on the top of the track surface which made it very slippery, and combined with the low sun and low temperature, it wasn’t drying very quickly despite 170 cars going round the track! We had some minor contact with a Mercedes in qualifying which seemed inconsequential, but it turned out a lower wishbone needed changing at the last minute, and by the time it was sorted, there was only time for 2 qualifying laps; David went out and got us P7 on the grid. The team did an amazing job to get everything sorted and the car ready to go out again, so thanks to them.

I would be starting the race, and luckily this time round there was no question over which tyres to start on! With the low temperature, it was a struggle to get any temperature into my slicks on the warm-up lap, and it took quite a few corners to get them to start working.
I got to the first corner and found that the car didn't want to turn, it was like driving on ice. The tyres were stone cold, so I spent a lot of the first lap bringing them back up to temperature and crossed the line down in P16. I then had to make my way by some slower cars that had got past me at the start, which is never easy on the narrow sections of the Nordschleife and found myself in tandem with Philipp Eng in the Schnitzer BMW M6 who was also making his way through the field. He towed passed me down the long Döttinger Hohe straight and I spent the next few laps glued to his boot lid as we made our way up the field until I pitted from P11 at the end of lap 5 for a driver change. Christian then jumped in and continued the fight back, followed by David who took the car to the end. There was a bit of a tussle towards the end of the race and we ended up crossing the line 4th. Later that evening we found out that one of the cars ahead had been penalised after the race, so we were promoted to 3rd, which isn’t how you want to inherit a podium, but it was a nice way to finish what’s been a good last few rounds. A shame we didn’t get to celebrate it on the actual podium though!

If I’d been told at the beginning of the year that I would be on the podium in 5/9 races, and of the races our car made the finish, we were on the podium 5/7 times, I would definitely have taken it. At VLN2 and 3, I didn’t actually get to drive the car in the race, which was gutting. But it’s been a really strong season apart from that. I would like to thank Walkenhorst Motorsport and my teammates for a really successful year. It’s a shame we couldn’t get that elusive victory, but hopefully we can put that right in the future!

So that’s my racing season done for this year. It’s gone by so fast, and wish it wasn’t ending! Who knows what 2020 holds, but it would be cool to do some more VLN again. The circuit is just amazing, and unlike anywhere else in the world. The multi class racing and traffic management is part of what makes it so fun. I’m definitely going to be getting withdrawal symptoms soon.

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.