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VLN/Nürburgring 24

Team Boss Says VLN Safety “Worsened” by BoP Change

GT3 teams issue stark warnings over late BoP change ahead of the VLN season…

Photo: Ferrari

The principal of a GT3 team that has quit the VLN amid Balance of Performance concerns believes safety in the Nürburgring Nordschleife-based series “is not increased, but worsened” by a recent change.

Wochenspiegel Team Monschau has withdrawn its Ferrari 488 GT3 from the upcoming season having been a member of the VLN championship for more than a decade.

Its manager Georg Weiss lashed out at what he called a “toxic cocktail” created by series organizer the German Motorsport Federation (DMSB) after it introduced lower speeds for GT3 cars on the 16-mile circuit.

The team’s discontent lies in the adoption of a 25 horsepower or 5 percent power reduction for all cars in the SP9, SPX and SP-Pro categories, which mainly affects GT3-homologated machinery.

This ruling is part of a continuing effort to improve safety on the Nordschleife, particularly after an accident during a VLN race in 2015 that killed a spectator.

The team has proposed that the latest BoP measure will make competitors in other classes, which include GT4 and TCR cars, just as quick as the GT3s on the straights, which would lead to GT3 drivers taking more risks to get around in the corners.

“By lowering the performance of the GT3 vehicles, the safety is not increased, but worsened,” commented Weiss.

“It’s a mystery to us how the VLN leadership deals with this topic. Instead of bringing transparency to the topic, the leaders duck away and let the teams run into the open.

“You can see that the VLN is not willing to have GT3 as a top class, and the accident record clearly shows that the GT3 cars are not the problem at all – most accidents are in smaller Cup classes.

“Just two weeks [before the opening round] breaking down entire vehicle classes without compensation before the start of the season is an unprecedented act that can not be outclassed in disrespect for [the] teams.”

WTM Racing will protest by switching to the Creventic-run 24H Series, which includes the 12-hour races at Mugello, Spa and Brno as well as the 24-hour events at Portimao and Barcelona.

The team also plans to lodge entries for the Total 24 Hours of Spa and the Kyalami 9 Hours, which are both part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Leading Porsche Team Threatens to Quit

Frikadelli Racing is another established outfit to have publicly questioned the BoP decision, with team boss Klaus Abbelen claiming that the updated rules “make absolutely no sense anymore”.

Frikadelli, which finished second in last year’s VLN Speed Trophy standings, has threatened to quit the series after the Nurburgring 24 Hours in June if the BoP is not altered.

Abbelen feels the payoff for running a Porsche GT3 car, which costs three to four times the upfront price of a TCR touring car, will be wiped out by the new regs.

“The much too late new BoP states that only the GT3 cars should lose 5 percent of their power, but not the other cars in the VLN,” he said.

“As a result, smaller vehicles costing just one-tenth of the annual budget of GT3 cars will overtake them on the straights at 30 km/h [19 mph] or more and will be ahead of the GT3 car again in the next corner.

“Unless there are several turns in a row, the GT3 finally makes it past. That makes absolutely no sense for us anymore.

“If this incision really should be accomplished, one would have to reduce the performance of all vehicles by 5%. Only then will you be able to compete and we will justify the cost of the GT3 vehicles.

He continued: “The whole track characteristic of the Nordschleife is changed annually, shortened and defused, so that even every new video game racer can control this course. But we can not get faster ourselves. That also makes no sense.”

“If I had been told in November that we had 5% less power imposed, I would have decided directly against a participation in the VLN and the 24-hour race.”

Frikadelli will enter this weekend’s VLN season-opener with two GT3 Porsches, including one for factory-affiliated drivers Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet.

A total of 171 cars, including 25 GT3s in the SP9 class, will take part in the four-hour Westfalenfahrt race on Saturday.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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