Female Drivers shine in several Classes at NLS Round 2
After the first round had to be cancelled, the NLS season could finally start this weekend at the Nürburgring: with a huge entry list and 12 female drivers, the Nordschleife shone of its best light and brought some class victories to the ladies on track.
After a heavy snowfall had forced to cancel the first race of the new NLS season, the Green Hell finally presented itself in its spring form this time and hosted the first race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series – with no less than 147 cars on the starting grid.
Among them, 12 female drivers were spread across the several classes and two crews had women-only drivers: the all-female team GITI Tire Motorsport by WS Racing with Carrie Schreiner and Célia Martin in their new Audi R8 LMS GT4, as well as the Girls Only drivers Pippa Mann and Christina Nielsen, who started their NLS journey in a BMW 330i operated by AVIA Sorg Rennsport in the VT2 class.
This year´s Indy500 driver Simona de Silvestro was also set to start with a Porsche Cayman GT4 in the class for alternative fuels, making her debut at the Ring.
TCR star Jessica Bäckman entered the race for ROJA Motorsport by ASL Lichtblau with a Hyundai i30N and Fabienne Wohlwend returned the the series with a BMW by Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotive.
In a Porsche Cayman, Sophia Gachot lined up on the grid with rent2drive-FAMILIA-racing, while TCR race-winner Michelle Halder shared a Seat Cupra with her brother Mike and went against Jasmin Preisig (VW Golf GTi TCR from Max Kruse Racing) in the same category.
From RNC to NLS, Katharina Lippka made the daring step with a BMW 325i.
And, last but not least, NLS veteran Janine Shoffner targeted a race win in the highest AM class with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 from GetSpeed Performance.
The story of the race
The #31 car of Makowiecki/Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R) set the pole position with a time of 7:53.565 minutes. Janine Shoffner in the #9 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the start from P15 overall. The poleman was soon in trouble when his car stalled on the warm-up lap, but was nonetheless able to get underway before the last car had overtook him and could thus regain his starting position. The #31 of Makowiecki/Olsen defended the lead, but at the end of lap 1, the #911 of Christensen/Estre/Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R) moved ahead for the top spot with a stunning move.
Half an hour into the race, we witnessed to the first crash: the #141 of Müller/Rösler/Yücesan (Mercedes-AMG GT4) and the #57 of Baumann/Riemer (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS) made contact, but both were able to continue the race.
There was drama for the leading car in the CUP3 class, as the #982 of Grosse/Wolter (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS) was hit by a lapped car and was out of the race.
More drama for the overal leading #911 car: the Porsche received a stop and go penalty for not respecting the minimum service time and Beretta/Thiim in the #11 Audi R8 LMS GT3 took over the lead again.
After 25 laps, the #911 went into the lead once again and took victory with a gap of 14,249 seconds over the #31. Christensen/Estre/Kern also set a new track record. There were many women behind the scenes for the team's victory: race engineer Laura Müller, data engineer Marie-Line Finé and GT3 project manager Eve Wallenwein among the others.
Simona de Silvestro started her first race in the series with a power-reduced Porsche Cayman GT4 "Permit B Spec" together with teammate Welf Hermann, in a two-car class. They starting from P98 overal. Simona drove the first double stint untroubled - she focused on handling traffic due to the crowded field and managed to advance to P62 before handing over to Welf Hermann - nearly three hours into the race. They secured class victory, as the second car was forced to retire and finished in P66 overal.
"Fun day ringing the GT4 around the Nordschleife for my permit today."- said the Porsche factory driver and Formula E reserve driver.
"Good 3 hour stint definitely got my eye in around the 24,358 km lap."
This class saw a direct battle between two female drivers, with Jasmin Preisig and her Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR by Max Kruse Racing fighting Michelle Halder's own Seat Cupra. And it was a complete success for Preisig, who won with her teammates Frédéric Yerly and Tom Coronel - while Michelle and Mike Halder scored P3 in class.
Both teams finished P41 and P45 in the overall standings.
NLS rookie Katharina Lippka started her together with Jörg Schönfelder, Serge Van Vooren and Christian Schotte at the wheel of a BMW 325i and finished P3 out of 4 competitors in class and P113 overall.
The Girls Only team made its return to the series with Carrie Schreiner and Célia Martin, sharing their new Audi R8 LMS GT4. It was the only team in class and finished in P56 overall.
"Around 30 laps completed within the last two days." - said Carrie.
"Class win was super challenging being the only one in class", she joked after the race. She will now head to Italy for the start of her 2021 Italian GT campaign at the wheel of the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 in two weeks time.
Janine Shoffner and Moritz Kranz had big amibitions for the overall ranking and won their class in their Mercedes-AMG GT3 from GetSpeed. Janine, a Nürburgring veteran, finished in P13 overall, close to the top 10.
"Always a privilege to drive this amazing car on such an insane track. Thanks again to AMG, Axiom Space and all the hardworking staff at Getspeed for making it happen."
Sophia Gachot started with Holger Gachot and David Ackermann in the B rent2drive-FAMILIA-racing Porsche Cayman and finished P5 out of 6 cars in the V5 class, P109 overall.
Another interesting and direct battle was underway in the VT2 class, between W Series racer and 2020 Ferrari Challenge vice-champion Fabienne Wohlwend, Jessica Bäckman and Pippa Mann and Christina Nielsen duo.
Fabienne, Uwe Ebertz and Jacob Erlbacher brought the BMW 330i G20 from Adrenalin Motorsport Team Alzner Automotiv to fourth place in class and P76 overall.
"Great first endurance Race, P4 in the VT2 Class - I really enjoyed the laps around the Nürburgring." - commented Fabienne.
"Rookies" Pippa Mann and Christina Nielsen - two of the most famous and established females in motor racing - impressed with their first laps around the German legendary track and finished in P12 in their BMW 330i from Team AVIA Sorg Rennsport. They were P101 overall, as they work on their permit A. "Great learning weekend at round 2 - after snow stopped play for round 1, our first race in Nürburgring is now complete!", wrote Pippa after the race.
Jessica Bäckman, Andreas Bäckman and Olaf Jahr were able to finish P17 in class and P111 overall with their Hyundai i30N from ROJA Motorsport by ASL Lichtblau.
The next race will take place on 1st May - at the Green Hell.