MAIDEN NURBURGRING PODIUM FOR BEN TUCK!
Ben Tuck continued his rapid rise in European GT racing at the weekend when he and his 3 co-drivers scored a maiden podium at the legendary Nurburgring Nordschleife. The 6-hour race was the preliminary qualifying contest for the world famous 24H of Nurburgring to be held in June. After his initial foray in the first 3 rounds of the fiercely competitive VLN Championship at the Nordschleife, the 6 hour contest was the concluding race of Ben’s 4 -race programme intended to prove his abilities on the worlds most challenging circuit and also to earn his Nordschleife racing permit allowing him the opportunity to move on to faster machinery at the circuit.
Running into the weekend, the weather again looked to be a critical factor. In the event, qualifying was rain affected but not to the extent predicted. After heavy rain the previous day, Ben was the first of the 4-man crew to venture out on the green track washed clear of rubber. He immediately lit up the timing screens and set a Pole Position time which remained for the next few laps, until more rubber was laid down and the track became warmer and grippier. After the session the Walkenhorst M240i was set for another sensational front row start.
The following day, with thunderstorms forecast mid-race, Ben’s car lined up on the front row for the third time in his 4-race programme at the Nurburgring. The team elected for Ben to take the middle of 5 planned stints. With the skies remaining clear, his teammates had strong opening stints and despite the car having an off and sustaining some damage, it was lying in 4th position as Ben prepared to take over driving duties. Powering out of the pit lane, his first target was 3rd and 2nd positions running close together almost 2 minutes ahead and he quickly got to work, chopping 30 seconds from the gap on his first lap out. 3 laps later Ben was just 5 seconds from his targets as he clocked what would be the teams fastest lap of the race up to that point.
Two laps later Ben made his move and within a few corners had taken both 3rd and 2nd positions with the leader running more than a lap ahead.
The unpredictable weather failed to deliver the promised thunderstorms and the day stabilised with warm and dry conditions. Ben brought the car in for the scheduled driver change and refuelling pitstop with about 50 minutes of the race remaining, briefly dropping the crew back to 4th. The last of Ben’s co-drivers then took over chasing down 3rd place and then regaining 2nd position as the cars ahead pitted. By the flag the team had won a superb podium finish.
The result rounded out a superb performance from Walkenhorst Motorsport who also claimed the overall win with their #101 BMW M6 GT3 car.
Ben was delighted with the result. “We’ve had the pace in the past few races for a result like this and this time everything went mostly to plan. I’m really pleased we were able to show that pace, get a good result for the team and everyone got enough race laps to get their Nordschleife permit”.
“It’s been a superb effort from everybody in the team and the other drivers too all did a solid job. I’m really pleased that David, Nick and Christian got the win in the M6 for Walkenhorst, it was a great result for the whole team”.
Ben is now looking ahead for the rest of 2019. “We’ve got a lot of possibilities to think about now. VLN has been brilliant and working with a team like Walkenhorst and working with BMW is exactly what we were looking for. The Nordschleife is just awesome, it’s different every single time you go out and it tests you in loads of different ways. I’m glad I’ve been able to show I can match up to the challenge! I’ve got the permit now so we can now look at faster classes at Nurburgring as well as other opportunities.”
With 4 strong performances in his Nurburgring debut, Ben is now looking to progress at both the Nordschleife and across Europe and the UK.