Nürburgrin Ring Master Conor de Phillippi Splendid Audi RS3 LMS TCR debut
Photo and report Willem J. Staat
Young American gun Conor de Phillippi is probably the only American driver to have mastered the Nürburgring Nordschleife three times during one season. After winning the prestigious ADAC GT Masters title earlier this month De Phillippi and Christopher Mies had already taken two wins at the VLN series around the famous Nordschleife earlier this year. Last Saturday Mies and De Phillippi took a clever win in their Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS and took their third win of the season. Massively impressive as they are the only team this year to have Mastered the famous German Track. The race started under changeable weather conditions and teams had strategies to change tyres after three or nine laps, as long as the rain lasted. After the first pitstop the team decided to stay on rain tyres and went for a safe strategy. At the front meanwhile Jörg Müller and Lance David Arnold diced hard until the regular driver changes. Rookie Nico Menzel(son of Christian Menzel) brought the RBM BMW M6 GT3 development car home in second place ahead of the Walkenhorst example being driven by Victor Bouving/Jesse Krohn en Victor Bouveng. In the opening stages of the race Müller and Arnold really fought out a splendid Nordschliefe battle that despite the ugly weather conditions was a joy to watch between both Ringmasters. The VLN title had already being taken in the previous round by Alexander Mies and Michael Schrey with a BMW M235i.
Just a few weeks after it had been announced the brand new TCR Audi RS3 LMS made it’s debut in the hands of Rahel Frey/Christopher Haase and Jordi Gene/Kelvin van der Linde. Overall the cars finished 17th and 22nd and ran in close company for the entire distance. For Audi the result did not count as this was a test before the cars will become available to private customers worldwide. Prior to the VLN race at the Nürburgring the team had extensively tested at Adria and Vallelunga and were already a class of their own.
After the Jann Mardenborough accident last year, even professional drivers have to prove if they are raceworthy to race at the Nordschleife before getting a permit. Therefore you have to take part in three or more races before the organizers allow you to race in a GT3 car. AMG Mercedes DTM drivers Daniel Juncadella, Lucas Auer en Felix Rosenqvist raced for the Mathol Team in a Toyota GT86 Cup car and won their class immediately. Originally they had been entered in a BMW 235i Cup car by the same team. But that was probably not such a good idea for the people back home in Stuttgart.