…chicken dinner. Wow, what a great feeling it is to start a new season at the top of the podium. And that’s exactly what we in Møller Bil Motorsport did in Saturday’s VLN-race at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The first race of the season is always a trip into the unknown, because we don’t know a lot about our competitors. After some races last fall with few cars in our class, it was nice to see that nine cars were on the starting list in SP3T this time. Among those, the factory team from Lexus in Japan. But that car, and another one, never came to the start apparently (I don’t think they would have been very fast anyway).
I felt well prepared before the race, but on Friday before the race we had some troubles with the gear box. The mechanics tried everything, and eventually it was decided that we had to change to a spare. And therefore I didn’t get any laps in the free practice on Friday.
A shame, since I just drove on the GP-track at the test in March. So when the qualifying started on Saturday morning I headed out on my first lap on the Nordschleife this year.
It was raining Saturday morning, and the forecast said that the rain would increase. Therefore the plan was that I should drive first in the qualifying to secure a good lap time. On my first lap of the Nordschleife this year, my first lap after the rebuild and on rain, I was fastest in our class by a big margin. Apparently I was also eleventh among all the cars that had set a time at that time, and in front of many GT3-cars.
The rain stopped, however, and towards the end of the qualifying it was possible to drive with slicks. Kenneth put in a good time of 09.01, and secured pole position by one second.
I was doing the start of the race, and we fitted the car with rain tires. But already on the warm up lap I could see that most of the track was dry. Too late to change tires at that time and I think most cars around me were on rain tires also.
I was starting from around tenth position in group two (and on pole in our class), and on the first lap I passed all the cars in front of me. It was a fun lap where I passed Porsche Cayman’s and 911’s on the inside and outside.
After two laps I pitted for slicks, and was still in the lead when I came out on the track again. From there on I increased our lead with many seconds on each lap, even though I felt some vibration and heard some funny noises, that made me take it a bit easy. To drive a car with an all wet-set-up on slicks is not ideal either. There was so many accidents and code-60’s anyway, that it was impossible to set any good lap times.
Håkon took over after me, and after a couple of laps he heard some really worrying noises from the gear box. He took it very easy, and handed over the car to Kenneth. Kenneth then drove very careful the on last laps, and we could cross the finish line as the winners of our class since our fiercest rivals also got into trouble.
The gear box issue made the day nerve wracking, but luckily the car made it to the finish. I’m very satisfied with my start, and Håkon and Kenneth did a great job by getting the car to the finish line without destroying the gear box. And our mechanics did once again a great job during the pit stops.
The next race for Møller Bil Motorsport is in August, but I will do another race before that. Watch this space…
Photo: Pål Henning Berg