BATTLE FOR VLN HONOURS CUT SHORT IN THRILLING FINALE!
An electrifying VLN battle was thwarted for Ben Tuck this weekend in the final race of the German VLN Championship based at the legendary Nurburgring Nordschelife after he was hit by a backmarker under yellow flag conditions. Now established as one of the series’ star GT4 drivers, Ben was lining up his 6th podium of the year when the incident occurred partway through his first stint.
Set deep in Germany’s Eiffel mountains, the finale of the 2019 VLN Championship was blessed with stable and dry conditions after the last several races had been hit by notoriously wet and changeable weather. For this race, Ben was paired in his familiar Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 with experienced Nurburgring amateur racer Florian Weber and team owner Henry Walkenhorst.
Cold and damp conditions in the early morning qualifying session meant that most of the drivers waited for the track to dry after overnight rain before completing their runs. As a result, the final part of qualifying was run on a packed circuit with a swiftly improving track. Ben set a solid pole position time just before the flag, but following drivers just improved in the final seconds of the session, resulting in a 4th place grid slot for the race.
Under clear skies and on a dry track Ben wasted no time after the rolling start as he pounced on a Mercedes AMG ahead whilst still on the GP section of the circuit moving himself up into 3rd position and setting up an epic 4-way battle for the GT4 lead. On Lap 3 Ben took 2nd position with a perfectly timed move around the outside of Turn 1 and from then on he eased away to leave the rest of the pack squabbling over 3rd place as he set about gradually reeling in the leader.
On Lap 6 with a solid gap established, Ben encountered a yellow flag zone intended to slow cars passing an incident. As Ben slowed, a backmarker hit him heavily from behind causing extensive damage. Ben was able get the car back to the pits, where the team made running repairs. However, the resulting 4-minute unscheduled pitstop took the car out of the running and into a distant last place.
Undaunted, Ben took to the track once again to recover as much time as possible. Punching in scintillating lap times, Ben out lapped his GT4 rivals, including the leader by 15s per lap. Soon he’d charged back to find 7th position, recovering to 2 minutes behind the leader.
He then handed the car over to his teammates. Sadly, the car began to suffer as the previous repairs began to fail and another pitstop was necessary to keep the car on track. The team stoically pressed on and were able to complete the race distance, finishing in 8th position.
“It’s not how we wanted to finish the year” said Ben after the race. “But, yet again we showed that the car had amazing pace even after the impact for a while, and that the team did such a fantastic job to keep it out there”.
“The early part was one of the best races here for me, it was great to be able to properly battle with a close group of GT4s for a good few laps, we’ve not often had that chance. And it was great to be able to drop the pack too!”
The race brings to a close Ben’s 2019 Nurburgring campaign. Starting the year as a rookie he competed in 11 races in two different types of race car, claiming a top 4 grid position 10 times and finished on the podium 5 times, ending the year as one of the very top GT4 drivers.
“It’s a shame we didn’t get a result for the final race, but this year has been a great learning experience and racing in Germany has been brilliant. Walkenhorst is a fantastic team, amazing people, and I’d love to return to VLN in the future.”