Engel, Assenheimer Win VLN Finale as Mercedes’ Dominance Continues
Maro Engel and Patrick Assenheimer gave Mercedes-AMG its sixth consecutive VLN win on Saturday by taking victory in the final round of the season.
They shared a Black Falcon Team AutoArena Motorsport-entered car starting from fifth on the grid and bounced back an early unscheduled pit stop to remove leaves from the car’s cooling ducts.
Assenheimer lost several positions with this setback, as did fellow Mercedes driver Adam Christodoulou who had a similar problem in the pole-sitting car.
Assenheimer made his way up into the top ten after this early delay and handed the car over to Engel, who continued to move up the field and crossed the line 6.7 seconds in the lead.
Second position went to Phoenix Racing’s Vincent Kolb and Frank Stippler, while Walkenhorst Motorsport’s BMW M6 GT3 shared by Christian Krognes, David Pittard and Jody Fannin completed the podium.
A Phoenix Audi picked up the Pro-Am win, while Black Falcon Mercedes came out on top in both GT4 classes, SP8T and SP10.
HTP Motorsport ran the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo in the SPX class, finished ninth overall with Maxi Goetz, Maxi Buhk and Christian Hohenadel sharing driving duties.
RESULTS: VLN 9
DKR, Kessel Crowned Le Mans Cup Champions
DKR Engineering and Kessel Racing both became back-to-back Michelin Le Mans Cup champions after Saturday’s final round of the season at Portimao.
Francois Kirmann and Laurents Hoerr finished third with their No. 3 DKR Norma M30 Nissan to wrap up the LMP3 title, while Sergio Pianezzola and Giacomo Piccini defended their GT3 title with Kessel.
The race was won by RLR MSport’s Alex Kapadia and Rob Wheldon, who finished 19 seconds clear of Nielsen Racing pair Tony Wells and Colin Noble.
Title battle drama played out between the DKR car and Lanan Racing’s Norma, when Duncan Tappy hit the back of Hoerr’s car, giving both title contenders damage.
Hoerr’s rear tire was replaced and bodywork was repaired quickly, allowing him to rejoin in third, but Tappy fell a lap down and was later given a three-minute stop/hold penalty for the contact.
In GT3, Piccini’s Ferrari was briefly pushed off track by an LMP3 car trying to pass, closing the gap that the Italian had built over Ross Gunn to just three seconds.
Piccini ultimately finished six-tenths clear of Gunn’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 at the line, claiming the class win and championship for himself and Pianezzola.
News & Notes
***Michael Ammermueller was crowned Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup champion in Mexico City with a double victory in the season finale. He completed the season on 150 points, 26 clear of Ayhancan Guven, and picked up a total of four wins out of ten races.
***The Porsche Mobil 1 Supercup will remain part of the Formula 1 support package for another three years after a contract extension was confirmed during the Mexican Grand Prix weekend.
***Fraser Ross and Ryan Miller shared the weekend’s two CAMS Australian GT Championship victories at Surfers Paradise, with Miller taking his Trofeo Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to Race 1 victory and Ross’ McLaren 720S GT3 coming out on top in Race 2.
***Entries are open for next year’s Ligier European Series, which will include a combination of Ligier JS P4 prototypes and Ligier’s GT platform, the JS2 R. It is open to Bronze and Silver drivers and will race at Barcelona, Monza, Paul Ricard, Spa and Portimao. Champions will receive an entry invite for the Michelin Le Mans Cup in 2021.
***Marcel Mohaupt has been appointed as the new managing director of ITR GmbH, the umbrella organization that runs DTM. He will replace Achim Kostron beginning on Jan. 1.