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VLN 2019 “BoP-Gate”

VLN 2019 “BoP-Gate”

The hot topic on everyone’s lips in the VLN at the moment is the 5% reduction in power to the GT3 cars which comes within 3weeks from the beginning of the VLN season. A very controversial subject which teams and drivers have all been very outspoken about. Most notably Audi driver Chris Mies stated on twitter that he would have to consider racing in the VLN again due to this most recent set back for the GT3 cars. The main reason being that the GT3 cars would then be a very similar speed to the GT4 cars, Cayman Cup3 cars, and even slower than the SP7 (modified Porsche Carrera Cup cars) and the Cup2 Porsche Carrera Cup cars would be even faster than the GT3 SP9 cars in a straight line, due to the power and drag that the SP9 cars create from their levels of aerodynamics.

Another issue rising from this announcement is the timing, only 2 weeks before the official VLN test day, and 3weeks before the season opener at VLN1. Team Wochenspiegel and their 2 Ferrari 488 GT3 cars will not race in the VLN until the BoP is adjusted to their preferences as well as long term entrants Frikadelli Racing will not compete beyond the N24hrs for the remainder of the VLN season. Their reasoning is very similar to what Chris Mies mentions about the SP9 cars will be driven past by the cars in the classes mentioned above therefore meaning the SP9 cars will have to re overtake these cars after the straight meaning there is more risk of accidents. Along with this issue, they are upset with the DMSB for releasing this rule change so close to the start of the season when the teams have already committed to the first 3 VLN races, N24hr Quali race and N24hr. They say that “had the announcement been made in November” they could have at least considered entering the races, however this late change leaves them committed to entering races where they now don’t agree to the technical regulations.

Firstly I really hope that there can be some agreement between the DMSB, Team Wochenspiegel and Frikadelli as it would be a great shame to loose upto 4 cars that have become VLN regulars and add to the variety of manufactures on the VLN grid.

Secondly, I can see where the DMSB and FIA are coming from. With a large amount of resurfacing work happening over the winter of 2018/2019, the new tarmac will most likely mean a reduction in laptimes further and closer to the 7:49.999 barrier which my team mate Christian Krognes got closer to at VLN9 Qualifying in 2018 completing the VLN layout in the Walkenhorst BMW M6 GT3 in 7:52.578. The most challenging race track in the world will become more challenging as drivers push their new machines harder and faster and with the old school nature of the circuit, the risk of an accident will naturally increase for all cars and drivers.

So, by reducing the power of the fastest car classes, it will stop the headline classes being as fast. However by reducing the power of just 1 class, only reduces the risk of (an average) of 25cars in the SP9 class. However all the other car classes are still going faster and therefore increasing their risk, and then add in more overtaking due to the lower class cars now overtaking SP9 cars, surely the risk goes up even more for the remaining 125 cars in the VLN races….?
Therefore I can see the point from Chris Mies that by reducing the power for all car classes should be considered.

The 2 drivers from the teams that are threatening to quit the VLN can be described as Amateur or Gentlemen drivers with much experience that allows them to compete in the top VLN classes. These drivers are more likely to rely on the power of the SP9 cars to pass the lower class cars that have a faster terminal speed than the SP9 cars. Therefore this rule change is more likely to affect these drivers and the Pro/AM and AM class cars rather than the PRO class cars who should find it easier to pass these lower cars in the corners than the Gentlemen drivers.
GT racing is mainly built on Gentlemen drivers and therefore needs to keep these drivers happy otherwise the sport loses fundamental supporters of the whole industry.

My personal view is that the decision and announcement could have been made sooner. Christian did the 7:52 qualifying lap record in October last year, and at this late stage in the pre-season, to suddenly “move the goal posts” will upset some people. A power reduction maybe the simplest way to reduce the speed evenly, where other options like ride height, and ballast can affect all cars in different ways meaning within the SP9 class some manufactures might be affected more than others.
I have been out dragged and slip streamed Carrera Cup cars, CUP7 cars and GT4 cars, but only really on the Döttinger Höhe. Other big straights on the circuit on the GP circuit, towards Schwedenkreuz, the Fuchsrohre, and from Bergwerk to the Karussell. It has been difficult to “power” past these cars, however the superior braking and aerodynamics of the BMW M6 GT3 have allowed me to pass these cars in the braking zones, through the corners and on the exit of the corners. So it will only be on the Döttinger Höhe where the SP9 cars will be passed. The riskiest part of the track will then be because after that we are onto the GP circuit which is the safest part of the circuit to overtake. So for me I am not too fussed by this rule change.

When you watch the VLN live stream, you regularly see the Cup3 Caymans, TCR and GT4 cars battling for position slipstreaming each other. As they are fighting for their own class honours rather than against each other, and even though their lap times are very similar, there is respectable driving and to my mind I haven’t seen 2 different types of class car make contact and affect each other’s races due to the slipstream on the Döttinger Höhe straight.

As long as the SP9 class manufactures are all as even as they have been after the 5% power reduction, it will make little difference to my race. Yes it is nice to have the fast times, however as long as it provides close and competitive racing, I do not mind and am still looking forward to the VLN season as much as ever!

If you are at the VLN and N24hrs this year, please make sure to come to the Walkenhorst garage, see the car, take some photos and say hi! And post your Walkenhorst photos to the VLN Fanpage and social media!

Please leave your comments below on your thoughts on the technical rule change and what you think to my thoughts, I’d love to know!

DPM