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.

China GT Ningbo

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The Ningbo International Circuit is a relatively new circuit about 2 hours from Shanghai. After some rain on the first day of testing, the rest of the week would be sunny and warm and we worked hard to improve the car over several sessions and through qualifying and the races. I was once again sharing the number 91 car with Betty Chen and we qualified fifth and ninth for the two one hour races.

I started fifth in race one and moved up to third after the first couple of corners. On a very tight narrow circuit it was difficult to overtake so I shadowed Darryl O Young in the Mercedes, passed him on lap 2, then I made a move for the lead on lap 3 and focussed on extending the gap. I pitted with a lead gap of 12 seconds after just over half an hour and handed over to Betty who did a good job holding on to fourth place until an incident at the last corner ended our race on the last lap.

Race two of the weekend was on the Saturday afternoon, again in warm sunny conditions. FIST Team AAI had made some changes to the car overnight to further improve it, so we were looking forward to a strong run. Unfortunately a lap into my stint, a technical issue meant I had to retire the car. Not the weekend we hoped for but looking forward to the next race.

VLN 3

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After some good testing on the Friday, we were looking forward to race day, although the the threat of rain was ever present. After overnight rain, the track was damp and it looked like the rain would return at some point during the day. The plan was to get a lap on the board in qualifying in tricky conditions and take it from there. Rudi Adams did a good job to do just that and I was due to improve on our position when a yellow at the end of the lap meant I had to follow a slower car and any chance of improvement was gone, so we started 18th overall and 3rd in Pro Am. Immanuele Vinke started the race and the rain got steadily worse until on lap 2 there was a downpour and he was one of a number of cars that aquaplaned in treacherous conditions and unfortunately the car had to be retired due to damage. I'll be back at the Nordschleife for VLN 4 in July when I look forward to getting some race laps in!

VLN 2 Cancelled Due to Snow

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After qualifying 10th overall and first in Pro Am, the race was red flagged shortly after the start due to snow!