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Nürburgring Endurance

NLS Round Six Canceled Amid Rising COVID-19 Cases

Rising COVID-19 cases in Germany and testing pressure for teams leads to NLS 6 cancelation…

Photo: Jan Brucke/NLS

The Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie has canceled this weekend’s sixth round of the season due to factors relating to the increase in coronavirus cases around Germany.

Senior figures at the VLN organization which runs the NLS championship explained that the four-hour DMV Munsterland Cup enduro cannot go ahead because of pressure on teams and other event personnel obtaining PCR tests under the ongoing spike in cases.

All NLS on-site personnel arriving from regions with infection rates above 30 per 100,000 people are required to submit a negative test 48 hours before their arrival at the Nürburgring, with the exception of marshals posted around the Nordschleife.

However, VLN VV managing director Christian Stephani said that the recent upsurge in positive cases has increased demand for testing in certain regions to the point that teams and other event staff could not meet their own testing obligations.

“It is clear that, for logistical reasons alone, a corresponding mass test would not have been possible for all eligible persons immediately before the event on Thursday and Friday – some even arrive on Saturday,” he said.

“We had commissioned an institute to carry out on-site tests in an emergency on people who could not have done a preliminary test. 

“When the agreements were made, there were only a few cities and counties with an infection number greater than 30 and also very few with one greater than 50.

“That has changed dramatically in the last few days.”

VLN eV & Co managing director Ralph-Gerald Schlueter added: “As a result, general instructions were issued in certain areas to only carry out tests on people who either show symptoms or who belong to certain professional groups: doctors, nurses, senior citizens’ home employees, teachers, etc.

“We were informed by participants and people involved in the overall organization that it was impossible for them to submit a corresponding negative test.

“As a result of the continued increase in testing, some laboratories are overloaded and cannot ensure that a result will be provided within 48 hours.

“Logistically, it would not have been possible to carry out the necessary tests exclusively at the Nürburgring.”

Schlueter explained that the VLN organization was also noting the advice of the German government asking for people to limit their contacts as case numbers increase again.

Germany recorded 35,698 COVID-19 infections in the seven days before Sunday, Oct. 18 while the national rate of cases per 1000,000 people has risen above 40, according to the latest figures from the Robert Koch Institute.

The NLS, which was one of the first delayed sports car series to launch its 2020 campaign in June, is currently on course to stage its season finale event featuring two four-hour races on Nov. 7-8, however Schlueter suggested this could also be adjusted.

“We must – the signs of the RKI are unmistakable – expect that in the course of the week further areas will be designated that have infection numbers greater than 50,” he said.

“Under these conditions and because of the political pressure, one or the other thinks about not taking part in an event at short notice. This made it absolutely impossible for us.

“We hope to be able to create the conditions to carry out the double-header in the next 14 days. But that’s not just in our hands.

“The infection process and the general willingness of participants and volunteers to participate in a major event will show whether it is possible to carry it out.”

GT Masters Replaces Zandvoort Round

The ADAC GT Masters has also adjusted the latter stages of its 2020 schedule with the series canceling its penultimate round at Zandvoort and replacing it with the Lausitzring.

The German national GT3 sprint series was originally set to visit Zandvoort on Oct. 30-Nov. 1 but this date will now be taken up by the Lausitzring, where the 2020 season kicked off in August.

Rising COVID-19 case numbers in the Netherlands and the country’s categorization as a risk area for German citizens prompted GT Masters to seek an alternative venue.

“We have worked very well and constructively with the Circuit Zandvoort over the past few weeks and have checked all possibilities,” said ADAC Motorsport director Thomas Voss.

“Our big thanks go to the Zandvoort team there for the good support, we are looking forward to a come back in Zandvoort in August 2021.

“Due to the current pandemic situation, we are switching to an alternative racetrack, because the health of everyone involved comes first.

“We would like to thank our long-term partner DEKRA, who made it possible at short notice that we can race at the Lausitzring.”

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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