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Category: VLN Endurance

It proved to be a tough weekend of racing for us at the infamous Nürburgring circuit.

Testing on Friday was just two laps of the 25km track, and qualifying started at the break of dawn on Saturday. Our BMW M3 GT felt good on new tyres, and I completed the first lap in 9 minutes and 11.3 seconds.

That was a quick start, but knew I could improve on that time. I completed my second flying lap in 9:03.5 which secured us a first place in our category (that gave us 40th place on the grid, a situation only possible when there are 200 cars racing at exactly the same time!)

The race started at noon and I was first in the car as I had done qualifying for the team. The start of these races is chaotic as everybody races down to the first corner trying to get ahead and claim an advantage, beginning on the Grand Prix F1 circuit and then moving out onto the Nordschelife.

With many of the Porsches and cars surrounding me having greater power and straight line speed, it was pretty tough trying to hold on to my initial track position as I’d out-qualified a lot of faster cars, but I managed to retain first-in-class for the majority of my opening stint.

It soon was time for new tyres, fuel and a driver change. The pitstop went smoothly; my co-driver was in the hotseat and I was watching our progress when suddenly a car appeared in our team garage. I thought it was our teammates in the sister car, but my heart sunk when I realised it was ours. He explained later that he’d had been forced to take evasive action to avoid contact with another car and in the fallout had accidentally clipped the tyre wall in the chicane. Unfortunately this left our car limping into the Pitlane with steering damage.

The team jumped onto the car to repair it, but it was too badly damaged to continue. The wheel, steering, and the steering pump all were all affected, and we had to retire us from the race just 1.5 hours in to the 6 hour marathon.

It was a real shame that the things had ended so early for us, but we had demonstrated good progress with the car set up, and the whole team had done a great job throughout the weekend.

I’m looking forward to getting back to the track for my third Nürburgring experience in just two weeks time. Although we didn’t get quite the result we were looking for on this trip, I’m confident we will be able to secure a place on the podium in our next race.

This will be one of the two final races before the huge 24 hours challenge around the Nürburgring held on the 25th-26th June.

BMW AlpinaThis weekend Wirth and the ALPINA team participated in their final round of competition for the 2009 racing season at the 34th DMV Münsterland Trophy Four-Hour Race at the famous Nürburgring- Nordschleife (North Loop). While this was the 10th and final round of competition for the 2009 BFGoodrich Nürburgring Endurance Championship, this was only ALPINA’s third start in the series.

The newly mated trio of Andreas Wirth, Csaba Walter and Stian Alexander Sorlie in the #78 BMW ALPINA B6 GT3 had no trouble getting up to speed and matching their driving abilities as they qualified a solid sixth place on the grid. “I’m sure we could have been on pole for the race,” began Wirth. “My teammate was on track with a flying lap to take it (pole position) when an unfortunate yellow flag was thrown on the straight. There was a cone on the track and one of the Clios was basically at a dead stop, forcing us to brake and lose our lap. That was a big disappointment, but we knew we had a strong car for the race regardless of our starting place.”

Immersed in a deep field of strong competitors piloting machines of a variety of capabilities, Wirth and his co-drivers endured four hours of racing challenges and brought their first year ALPINA home in a very strong 9th place overall out of 129 event finishers. Andreas, pleased with the team’s accomplishment commented, “We’re really happy to have finished our first VLN event today – 9th place is really pretty good considering this was only our 3rd entry to this series and the field is stacked mainly with Porsche factory drivers and cars that compete the whole season and have much more experience! After having suffered some mechanical problems in our last events here, the most important thing was that we finished today with no issues in a four hour race.”

Looking ahead to next year and sadly seeing the close of his first season with ALPINA, Wirth said, “Every event this year we’ve learned a lot, every lap we put in and all the effort – it’s all been worthwhile. The development of the car is well on the way and we’re already looking forward to next year where we will be pushing hard for the win! It’s been a really tough year on all of the guys and really our whole team as we get back on track. We have a lot to live up to and our own expectations are even higher than that, so I have to say a really big Thank-You to all of the mechanics, engineers and just everyone that has worked so hard to make this all-new ALPINA team happen. Everyone has been so professional and have made this year a real thrill. I’m so proud to be a part of this team, especially in their first year back to racing – I think it’s been a huge success!”