EPIC COMEBACK CHARGE IN NLS3!
Ben Tuck’s debut GT3 race weekend finished with more than a little hint of ‘what might have been’ last Saturday. After the first and second rounds of the 2021 NLS Championship denied BRDC SuperStar driver his first opportunity to race the #34 Walkenhorst M6 GT3 Pro car, the Nurburgring rang true to its unpredictable nature for NLS 3, where the weekends progress was hampered by a puncture during a chaotic qualifying session followed by an epic charge back through the field by the 3-man crew.
After a strong Friday practice, which gave Ben further valuable experience to dial into the big BMW M6 GT3, race day qualifying began with high hopes. With the return of both of Ben’s teammates, fellow Brit David Pittard and Norwegian Christian Krognes, the crew were hopeful of setting a front running time. Pittard took to the track first, but within half a lap had suffered a puncture, meaning a slow limp around the remainder of the 23km circuit for repairs.
However, before he could return, another incident caused a red flag, stopping the session for an extended period while barrier repairs were made. Despite the uncharacteristically stable weather, no sooner than the cars were released back on track, a second red flag ended the session for good before Krognes this time was able to register a full lap, consigning the Walkenhorst Pro crew to the back of the SP9 class grid in 32nd place.
Even with a delayed race start, lights out quickly came with Pittard again at the wheel. In the opening laps he was able to gain a remarkable 16 places bringing the car back to the pits in around 17th position. Tuck then took over for the next hour, picking off another pair of positions as he reliably lapped with comparable pace to his teammates.
The final stint was taken by Krognes who made further gains in the, by now, strung out field capturing another position by the flag and then further benefiting from a penalty incurred by another competitor, to finish in 13th position.
It may have not been the result, or the race debut Ben had been hoping for, but he was encouraged by the pace of the car. “We showed really great pace today, and without the issues in qualifying we should have been top 10 in a seriously strong grid of professional driver line ups” he said, content with the progress he had made with the car.
“Given the limited race running we’ve had with the car, I’m happy with my progress, there is a lot to learn with the car so its all about doing that as quickly as possible. Our focus is to be competitive in the 24 [Hours of Nurburgring], and I’m still learning the aerodynamics of the M6, but I think this weekend I’m happy we’ve got a good base to work from.”
“The next 6-hour quali race for the 24 will be important and I’m aiming to make more progress there”.
Ben next races in the ADAC Qualification Race at Nurburgring Nordschleife on 9th May 2021.