At 60 km to the East of Koblenz, in the Eifel region is settled a place of worship, attended all weekends by thousands of believers. Those who are fond of mythology must not be deceived; it doesn’t deal with Valhalla, the paradise of brave Norse knights that legends want located in German forests, but with Nordschleife, a ribbon of asphalt of almost 21 km that, following the undulating ground of hills with continuous changes of slope, gives the feeling to those who are walking through it to climb a launching pad to sky or go down to hell. There for the reasonable price of 22 euro a lap, every owner of a car or motorcycle may try to repeat the deeds of the famous drivers of motor racing, however taking care of saving his skin and being careful not to hinder the “believers” at the wheel of their Porsche, Ferrari and different Prototypes. These drivers are running at crazy speed to make the attempt to improve them lap after lap, almost pushed by an irrepressible wish to have same feeling as acrobatic Stefan Bellof who, in 1983, during the 1000 km tests at the wheel of a Porsche 956 stopped chronometers at 6:11.130, an unbeaten record up today.
A few meters from that dimension, where till 1981 stood less lucky Südschleife, new Nürburgring is winding, a circuit of 5.137 metres, opened in 1984, that is certainly less exasperated than its more renowned ancestor but that it keeps some peculiar features, where since 2004 different editions have been taking place of the ADAC 1000 km-Rennen happened this year on 21-23 August.
Friday free tests have been troubled by a drizzle dropped a few minutes after the beginning of the first session: fortunately the asphalt got rapidly dry, permitting different teams to search at once for the best setup, the activity continued on Saturday morning session. Among the P1 cars, the Orecas were absent, while the Aston Martin and Pescarolo cars were immediately successful with the Ginetta-Zyteck of the Strakka that was the first among the following cars: particularly good was the performance of Tinseau, whose participation had been in doubt after Portimao’s accident so as to ask for Collard’s presence on track for a possible replacement. Among the P2s, the Ginetta superiority of the Quifer team has very soon appeared unbeatable, while the Lola-Judd cars of the Racing Box, the main competitors for the title, were hardly able to keep up with the Lola and Pescarolo Mazda cars.
In GT1, the presence of two cars only has taken off any interest for the category: to great surprise the Saleen of the Larbre on the Corvette of Alphand has almost uninterruptedly taken the lead. In GT2 the fight was concentrated between the new winner of the Algarve, the Ferrari JMB and the main rival for the title, the Porsche of the Felbermayr, with two interesting intrusions: the more and more valid Ferrari of the Hankook Farnbacher and the surprising Snoras Spyker with Coronell in great form.
The qualifying session reserved for the GT has been broken in half by the yellow flags displayed on the Ford Kurve due to Montermini’s off-track, finished in the sand outside the track. Among the GT2s it was Kaffer who took advantage of the situation, the only one to go down the wall of 1:58 and to give first pole to Hankook tyres. Garcia was behind him with the Ferrari of Modena team, while the struggle among pretenders to the title has seen Lieb, third, doing better than Bell, fourth. The Spyker was amazing in the sixth position one only second from the lead.
In GT1 the best time was obtained by the Saleen able, for the first time in 2009, to hold behind the Corvette crew. The twenty minutes reserved to prototypes were decidedly more exciting, thanks to a major number of cars present on the track (23 in comparison with 15 GT cars), them also in the difficulty for an off-track against the barriers on the Ford Kurve: the unlucky protagonist was Xavier Pompidou of Speedy Racing at the wheel of the Lola-Judd P2, shortly before he was able to score a good third time of category. Among P1 cars there was the absolute dominium of the Lola Aston Martins which taking advantage of the special engine configuration in the qualification, have scored the first three places on the starting line-up: Mucke and Turner, in particular, have given the first row to Aston Martin Racing, outdistancing Fassier of half a second. On the contrary, it failed to meet the expectations the official third Aston Martin brought to Nürburgring, entered as AMR Eastern Europe, that with Ramos scored the second-last place in the category at 4” from Pole.
In the qualifying session there were still difficulties for the Pescarolo with Boullion only fifth at 1:2, also overtaken by the more and more convincing Ginetta Zytek with Watts, while the Audi cars of the Kolles team have shown some progress, however remaining about 2” outdistanced from the lead. In P2, as it was clearly envisaged after the free qualifications, the best time was scored by Quifer team with Olivier Pla, with a lead of 1:3 over the Zytek with Peter, the Lola cars driven by Pompidou and Andrea Piccini and the finally competitive Lola Mazda with Erdos.
A clear sky and a very agreeable climate welcome twenty thousand spectators arrived at the circuit on the day of race. Warm-up has not supplied clear information in particular, with the official Aston Martin cars far from the best time trying to hide their real capacity for the race, making the rivals occupy the first places in the classification. The same for Amaral-Pla match, first ones but with a minimum lead over the rivals of the category, while the Lola Racing Box n 29 was clearly improving, delayed in qualifications. The Lola-Judd of the Speedy Racing was regularly on track, after the toil made by night to repair the damages to the rear made up when it went out of the qualifications. On the contrary, among the GT cars the JMW has really worked up because has got times that were even unreachable for the Porsche driven by Lieb-Lietz.
On the line-up we have to remark the moving back to the last rows of the Spyker, the Drayson Aston Martin Vantage, the Lola Speedy Racing P2 and the FBR Ferrari due to the respective change of the engine after Portimao’s race, while for the same reason the Lola Racing Box with Biagi and the Pescarolo-Mazda with Lahaye have been moved back to position ten: for the remaining, once in a while, no absentees and no start from the pit-lane.
At the start Mocke sprinted well and pulled ahead lonely running fast laps with his team mate Turner. who immediately left him a certain margin (2 sec. already on lap 1). Behind them, the positions remained almost unchanged, with Mondini only who passed his team mate and the Oreca of the Signature. Behind them Zytek-Quifer took the lead easily among the P2 cars, followed by Erdos, Peter and Francioni, while Biagi seemed in great difficulty, collecting 36 seconds from Ginetta in 6 laps only. Among the GT2s there was a great start of Bruni, who earned the leadership in only two passages, confirming the time achieved in the warm-up. Ahead Bouillon immediately attacked, trying not to lose too much distance from the Aston Martins, but during the third lap he forced too much and ended by moving back to the ten positions: to regain the fifth position he needed nine laps, however he found himself at 20 seconds from the lead.
Waiting for the first series of change of tyres, to make a spectacle on the circuit there were Lahaye, moved up to the third place among the P2s and decided to attack Erdos who was before him for a handful of seconds, and the GT2 cars with Garcia and Lieb that overtook Kaffer trying not to lose too much contact with the Ferrari JWM, in the lead with 18 seconds’ lead after 20 laps.
From lap 28 to lap 32 the race revived thanks to pit-stops which shuffled the cards: the Ginetta of the Strakka team went to the pit-stops first, but the choice doesn’t pay, so as to make Watts loose a good 20 seconds and above all the position in favour with Boullion who thanked for it. The French driver will enjoy very little of the new situation, because after three laps he had to go back to the pit-stops because of the abnormal temperature increase of the gearbox oil. A terrible blow to Henry and his staff that, after the good performances at the beginning of championship, were close to get the title. The Pescarolo making its exit reduced any interest in the race of the P1s, even if there was not missing some moment of great tension: first among all the violent off-track made by Mondini due to the collision with the Advan-Bogen driven by Montermini, during the lapping in which the fault may be divided into equal parts between the two Italian drivers.
Meanwhile, Biagi went on his suffering when his car spun right round and ended in the sand at the Dunlop Kebre, from where it has been moved back to the track with the assistance of the breakdown van. Biagi had to start outdistanced of three laps from the Ginetta with Pla, saying goodbye to a title may be never really deserved. On lap 51 we saw one of the few duels fought on race: Buncombe, who succeeded Ramos on the third official Aston Martin, began to be more familiar with his prototype and became the fastest driver on track, reaching the Courage Oreca with Ragues and passing it at the break of the main straight. Therefore the English driver ran wild against the Audi driven by Meyrick, who was ahead of him for about thirty seconds.
Meantime, on the leading we could see Belicchi’s run-up to the second place kept by Turner, whose performance have suddenly dropped: the Italian driver arrived half a second from the rival, but the higher power of the official car prevented him from launching a valid attack At this point most part of spectators were waiting for an attempt of overtaking at the stands during next turn of pit-stops, but just on that circumstance a decidedly too long stop will force substitute Prost to go out with more than 20 sec delay from his rival.
Behind the leaders Buncombe also overtook the Ginetta-Strakka, driven awkwardly by Leventis, scoring the fourth position, but then Karthikeyan arrived behind him at the wheel of the Audi and he managed to recover up to pass him on lap 72. Prost’s race ended at the stands due to electric problems: the car went again on the rack but it was excluded from the fight for the top positions.
The last “high notes” were heard with the lap 110, with Leventis who was also overtaken by the Courage, now in Mailleux’s hands, therefore with Hall’s successful run-up (who replaced Buncombe) to the Audi that preceded him, and finally with the spoon of Charouz’s car on the Warsteiner Kurve that exposed to the risk a race already won. After the blunder the Czech driver lost his rate and was passed by Turner, his team mate, little before a new pit-stop. Enge first and then Mucke were the first to bring the 007 again to the top of classification. The last shock was the one given on lap 141 by Watts who, engaged in a crazy run-up to recover the delay collected by the team mate, bumped into a GT2 on the Ford Kurve, crashing against barriers.
Also P2 was less eventful, apart from the numerous technical failures which concerned all the cars a little. Andrea Piccini could have taken advantage of it, who recovered with the second Racing Box after Biagi’s unsuccessful results, but the breakage of one rim forced the car to be back. At the end Amaral-Pla match gained the class win with two laps’ lead over the other Lola Racing Box and four ones over the Pescarolo driven by Lahaye-Ajlani. The title was practically certain for the Portuguese team there was little to say about GT1, where at first both cars marked closely, then to suffer some technical trouble that obliged them to remain at the stands for a long time. At the end the Saleen of the Larbre got the better of its opponents, while Corvette crew limited to finish the race among the classified cars, so as to get the title with a race in advance. Finally, the GT2, where the Porsche driven by Lieb-Lietz took advantage of the crankshaft failure of Ferrari JWM, fully in the lead, to obtain the third success of the season before a first-rate Spyker, never before so competitive and the Ferrari of the FBR.
Twenty-six years after Bellof’s record, the 1000 km Rennen ended in giving a historic triple win to the Aston Martin that with the 007 has also staked a claim on the title in view of the last LMS appointment which will take place on the Silverstone circuit in mid-September.