Start to the VLN season...

1 May 2013

After seeing the official VLN test and first round cancelled due to freezing conditions, the second VLN round saw Green Recycling's SP6 class BMW M3 GTR hit the Nordschleife for the first time.

Friday evening testing went well and the car was proving to be very quick in class. With a few setup tweaks between the drivers and race engineer, Graham Nash, we were sure we had a strong package.

Saturday starts with around 500 drivers convening for the standard German VLN drivers briefing. With that complete and all completely understood, we head straight to the garages for the start of qualifying.

Team owner and driver, Rob Smith posted a great time in the car and handed it over to Somerset based businessman and professional race driver, Adam Sharpe for his qualifying effort. With only his second full lap in this car, Adam put the M3 on pole in class! As the session was yet to finish and with some times still being posted, the team confirmed that Adam should go for another lap. Adam was over 15 seconds up on his initial lap when we he was tagged on the exit of the 'Mini-Karussell' sending him hurtling into the barriers! The car was damaged and had to be lifted onto a flatbed to be recovered to the pit lane. With only one hour to get the car ready for the 4 hour race start, the task seemed impossible - we didn't even have a spare front bumper, let alone the spares for the damaged suspension parts! Adam had befriended a local successful German race driver and engineer the day before and, with a call to Uli, we had a Flossman front bumper, wings and suspension components being ripped off his car and on their way to the race circuit. The rush to fix the car had all sorts of mechanics, nationalities (British, German and Australian) working on the car. We finally dropped the car on its tyres two laps down and joined the race. However, the car wasn't complete. We ran with no front bumper, losing us downforce and giving loads of drag down the straights - we managed to get some good air over the 150mph jumps too (see photo)! However, Rob posted the fastest lap in class! We ended up finishing 6th in class and looked forward to round 3.

Last weekend, saw Green Recycling back at the Nurburgring for round 3. This time Rob Smith and Adam Sharpe were joined by Glastonbury based, Colin White - in view of the 24 hour in May. Testing on Friday was set in miserable conditions. Rob and Colin posted a few times to ensure the car was OK in the wet and Adam completed only an in and out lap due to windscreen wiper failure. The early morning Saturday qualifying saw all three drivers on circuit. Adam started the session in wet conditions, posting a lap that put the team first in class again. Colin then put in some solid laps qualifying himself for the race, before Rob took the wheel to set a time confirming our pole position in class. Adam started the race in cold, wet and foggy conditions. Adam kept a good lead in class for the majority of his stint until he was caught in a small incident at Exmuhle causing him to loose 15 seconds, allowing the Dorr Motorsport Z4 to gain some vital ground on circuit. The powerful Z4 passed Adam on the Dottinger-Hohe straight before both pitted nose to tail for fuel and a driver change. Colin jumped into the M3 and joined the circuit with only a second between him and the Z4. After only a lap, Colin passed the Z4 and pulled a gap for the rest of his stint. As the circuit was drying, we switched to slicks and Rob had an hour aboard the M3 to bring it home. The Z4 also pitted and changed to slicks and put their first driver aboard again.

The Z4 started to reel Rob in again and after a lap of ducking and diving the Z4 passed Rob on the straight again, leaving Rob to manage the gap and keep hassling where possible. This proved to work, as the Z4 out-braked itself on the pit straight and lost over 20 seconds on the gravel! Rob then managed the race to the chequered flag and bought Green Recycling their first VLN win since the efforts started this time last year with the V6 car.

Next stop - the 24 hours on 19 and 20 May!


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