Second place

Møller Bil Motorsport finished Saturday’s VLN race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife in second place.

To finish first, first you have to finish. And the same can be said for finishing second. We actually did a good performance on Saturday by finishing a difficult race, and our real heroes are the mechanics as many times before. But more on that later.

For my own sake I had some trouble finding the sweet spot during Friday’s free practice, and wasn’t too happy with the set-up of the car. Unfortunately I didn’t get the opportunity to do any better in the qualifying Saturday morning, when the gear box stopped working. I had no other choice than to go to our safe mode, which is an automatic gear box, and head slowly towards the pits again.

Luckily my team mate Håkon did a fantastic lap in the difficult conditions, and secured pole position!

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I was starting the race, and it had now stopped raining. But the track was wet and it was difficult to know the correct tire choice. I eventually chose slicks for dry weather, but when I came to the start line it had started to rain again…

Difficult start
Now it was too late to change tires, so the only thing I could do was to cross my fingers and hope that the rain should stop. My start was actually quite good, but just for a few meters. Because of my slicks I had almost no grip at all, and it seemed like all the other cars were on rain tires. I almost spun on the start straight, and I had to take it very easy down to the first corner. Through the Mercedes Arena the grip was so poor that I thought one of my drive shafts were broken. And on the straights the car didn’t go straight.

You can see how difficult it was here (from 02.14):

I have driven with slicks in the rain many times before, but I can’t remember it being so slippery as it was on Saturday. It was like I was standing still, while many cars where passing both on the right and left. What a frustrating situation…

After the race I got messages from people who watched the start live on vln.de, and they wondered what was wrong with my car. So what happened? Was something wrong?

Well, probably not. It was just extremely slippery, and I think it was only two cars starting with slikcs; myself and our competitor from LMS Engineering. And I was 54 seconds faster than that car on the first lap!

The problem was that the cars with rain tyres were much faster, and even though it dried up after 3-4 laps, we had lost too much time. The leading car of Wasel had already been to the pits and changed from rain tyres to slicks, and they were still around 25 seconds ahead of me.

The situation was not helped by a servo steering that didn’t work properly, and the steering “locked” in the fast corners. The display was also not working as it should, and all this together with a lot of yellow flags made my stint difficult.

Good team mates
After nine laps I handed over the car to Nürburgring-rookie Anders Gram Lindstad. Anders  is one of our mechanics and he works at a Møller Bil dealer. He is also a race car driver, and won the Norwegian Formula Basic championship some years ago. Anders has been testing our car a few times, and in the 6 hour race we can have four drivers, and we wanted to give Anders a go.

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The mechanics did a good pit stop, and Anders headed out for his first race laps on the Ring. Anders did a fine job and drove both fast and safe, and it was not an easy debut with the steering problems. The LMS car was a bit too fast, though, and came by after a while.

Then it was Håkon’s turn, and he also did some good laps – even though his drinking bottle was bouncing around under his legs. We were still in third when Kenneth took over for the last stint. Then the display was all gone, and after a few laps the servo stopped working in all the corners. But once again our mechanics did a great job and found the problem. A steel wire had cut through a cable and that caused the trouble. The mechanics fixed the problem, and Kenneth could finish the race. And since Wasel also got in trouble, we could finish the race in second place behind LMS Engineering.

We were satisfied with the result, and once again our great mechanics showed their true spirit by never giving up and fixing the car. Probably we had some kind of electrical glitch with the car that hampered us all weekend – maybe because of the crash in the last race. Other than that the car was good as always, and both our Møller Bil mechanics and the guys from Raeder Motorsport impress me more and more for each race.

What we now need is a trouble free race with the correct tire choice. We have three more races to go this season, and I can’t wait to go back to the Nürburgring in October.

Photos: Peter Elbert

 

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