As promised earlier I will give you my view of the race. I know it took some while, but I really wanted to get some time off and just enjoy what happened .
The tension from the months before this race was extremely high. With all questions about the new rules and therefore the “Balance of performance” and of course if we are able to win again.
The weekend started already Thursday with the free practice and first Qualifying. In free practice I was not able to drive a lap as planned because were running out of time. In first qualifying the conditions were not very good because of the rain/ no rain.
It was my turn to go for the 2 laps that every driver needs to complete to get qualified for the race. When Marc came in, I stayed on rain tyres but unfortunately it was already too dry and my rain tyres started to get too hot and therefore I had an uncontrollable rear end. For my second lap I changed for slick and typical Nordschleife, it started to rain! So that was it for me because on the next day we decided Marc is just going for 2 more qualifying laps. P2.
After the qualifying I was confident that we could keep the same speed as the Audis and I felt a bit more relaxed because we really didn’t know if this was the case.
Marc was the start driver and did a fantastic job. I was co-comentating the start on DSF and I was so excitited, that it was hard to sit still . For me it was another 4 hours before I got into the car and of course after Audi was taking P1 and drove lap times that we never expected we were all a bit nervous if we are able to keep the speed and follow them!
When I was going into the car, I was loaded with adrenalin and curious how my stint would be without much driving time the days before. As well, you shouldn’t forget that all Porsche works driver already drove in the 24h Daytona, 12h Sebring and many more endurance races than me this year. For me, it was this year my 4th race and maybe you can imagine the pressure I had . Luckywise I am good under pressure but of course you never know and you get usually a bit nervous before.
But my first stint showed, that there was no reason to be nervous. I was really quick and straight up to speed. I could close the gap to Audi and felt even more motivated to beat Audi and of course all the others.
For us drivers there was only one way to go and that was driving at the absolute limit of the car every single lap, no matter what!!!
About my second stint, there is not much to say. It was during the night and there was the very long yellow on the GP Track.
You could read in my Post before about the 3 min I got for not respecting the yellow. This was not the case and I was certain, that I did absolutely nothing wrong. Because of the new rules we are obliged to have a data-recorder in the car that can be only read by the officials. I was pushing Olaf , that somebody should go to the officials and show them our data and if they agree they could as well check their own. Thats what they did to verify. I was very happy that they looked at it again with the result getting our 3 min back. I have to say that this is definitely a good part of the new rules. The marshals are doing a fantastic job and I don’t blame them for anything but sometimes it is not easy for them to really see what happens and of course it is not easy to see if a car is driving under 50km/h or over for example. They always try to be as fair as possible and to see the situations right. At this point I would also thank them for what they are doing. Without all this volunteers around the track they wouldn’t be a race!
The morning has come and it was again my turn to get in the car. We gained back time step by step but we also knew, that we have to keep on pushing.
I think that this 8 laps were some of my most exciting ones on the Nordschleife. For me the “morning stints” are the bests. I love to see the sun go up, a bit less traffic, fresh air, the fans start to wake up and you are sitting in the car and just focused on driving. It felt so good that you are in a kind of own world where its just you the track and the car.
In this “state of balance” I drove the fastest Lap of the race and the whole stint was just superquick. When Marc went in the car he even mentioned it to me while I was closing his seatbelt and I told him just push you can do it as well. And that’s what he did just a tiny bit slower than his fastest .
After this I really needed to take quick shower and a nap. When I woke up and I watched the screen, I hardly couldn’t imagine what I saw: Our car was on P1 and the Phoenix Audi dropped back. I didn’t know what happened then but I felt how a bit of the pressure was gone. The next thing in my mind was then hopefully we don’t get a problem as well after pushing that hard or hopefully we don’t get a puncture. You get one thing out of your mind and suddenly other becoming more important.
The other Audi was approx. 5 min behind us so we couldn’t completely let go and kept the speed high but not as fast as before.
My last stint was difficult from the concentration side. If you are not in need to push really hard and they tell you to drive around 9 min a lap, you have so much time to think. For example about the traffic when you pass or about the noises in the car everything is suddenly on your mind and you hope that things will just go fine…..
16.00, P1!!! I can not describe my feelings when we crossed the finish line. Everything is suddenly over and you try to realize what just happened: 4 times in a row and 5 times for me. Wow, its just amazing.
All the hard work from the Team and us drivers paid of at the end and there is not much that makes you more excited than that. Even for days afterwards you are living out of this and enjoying and realizing what happened.
All the days after I was still so “high” that I couldn’t wait to get back in the car and still now I am looking forward to next week for the next VLN race.
One thing you realize the night after the race: Pain! Every time you turn around in bed your back and butt is hurting and this for days .
I want like to thank all of you for your support and I hope that we can do it again!!!
… I mean why not? ;-))
isn’t it funny, this year we had already so money weird races. But this one tops the other two before.
Qualifying was really good for us. With an 8:24.16 we were standing on pole. I was just a bit disappointed with the Audi’s, because I expected them faster than 8:28.96! I am not convinced that they show there full potential.
The race itself started good with Marc leading the field and after the Mamerow car lost some cooling fluid and retired + that the Alzen car and too Audi crashed because of that we had bigger gap between us and the second.
For my stint it was the same. While there was a lot yellows out there I was able to keep the gap consistent before I handled the car over to Marc for the last time.
We were than back to P2 because Audi pitted 2 Laps earlier than us and took the lead. I was confident we will take the lead back again on the last quick pit-stop. We had to come in for a splash and dash and we thought the 81 Audi as well but instead, they stayed out there was absolutely no chance to catch them. So for the last race-lap we came right behind the 77 Audi and Marc was able to push really hard and overtook Marc Basseng (after the race he was really upset with his self about that. I asked him why? because he should be used to it after last year. Either it was Marc or me who did this to him than ;-)). Of course it was a joke, but a true one!)
The 81 got slower and slower and at the end we were right behind him, before he went into the Pits to let us win!!!
How strange is that? Did they really messed up their whole strategy or did they wanted us to win, so maybe they get some more weight out of the car or something else? I am not sure anymore but it looked really strange to me… As well the qualify-times should have been quicker. A Porsche Cup car was just 3 sec slower than the slowest Audi with a 8:31.48.
Of course there is a lot speculation and we know how much they want to win the 24h. The Balance of Performance is making it really difficult to show the full potential. Especially if you have a good chance to get some advantage out
of that ;-).
All this will stop as soon as the 24h is started at 16.00!
Don’t forget, we get more and more hungry to win the race again and of course we will push as hard as them and even harder but fair!