STRONG FINISH CUT SHORT BY MECHANICAL PROBLEM IN NLS4
‘Opportunity denied’ could be the mid-term report of the 2021 season for BRDC SuperStar GT racing driver Ben Tuck. The latest chapter in that story came at the weekend for Ben driving in the renown German NLS Endurance Championship where Tuck and his fellow teammates qualified in 3rd at the top of the 116 strong field and went onto convert that to a solid 2nd position, only to retire the car halfway into the 4-hour race with mechanical issues.
However, the race was yet again another statement of the combined quality and pace of Tuck and his crew mates in the Walkenhorst Motorsport run BMW M6 GT3 and the brief 2-hour run provided plenty of proof that given a smooth weekend they are authentic contenders for wins and podiums.
Motorsport is a genuine team sport and whilst Ben and the crew of the #34 BMW immediately got down to work analysing the lap data gathered from their truncated run, the team from Walkenhorst began the investigation of the failure, centred on the gearbox.
The weekend started in fine form with good pace from all of the crew in practice, which was carried forward to qualifying on the morning of race day. For the first time this season, Tuck was given qualifying responsibilities and despite it being his first time ever in a GT3 car in qualifying trim he did not disappoint. In stable and warm conditions, he lit up the timesheets and posted his own personal best to slot the big BMW into 3rd position, less than a second shy of pole position and the GT3 qualifying lap record.
Ben was also trusted to take care of the start and opening stint of the race just 90 minutes later. As the lights went out the top group surged towards turn 1. In what was perhaps a portent of things to come the first misfortune befell Tuck as a rival Mercedes spun in front holding him up and demoting him to 7th position.
From that point onwards Tuck kept with the leading pack of seven as they all broke away from the rest of the field. The fierce battle at the top raged for an hour until the team elected to pit Ben a lap early to try to jump their rivals in the pitstops.
Ben handed over the car to fellow Brit David Pittard and as the strategy played out, Pittard began to make superb moves up the order edging ever closer to the front, eventually reaching a solid second place. From that point on the chance for a win was on. Then suddenly a little under halfway into the 4-hour race, the gearbox failed, and the car limped back to a deflating retirement.
Although a disappointment, Ben was keen to see the positives. “Massively disappointing obviously” he said. “But we definitely showed that given a clean weekend we are right up there at the front. For me it was another big step forward with the car, each time I go out I learn more and todays quali on the dry tyre showed how confident I felt with the car. Walkenhorst did a great job and I’m happy with where I am at this stage, it’s a good base to build on for the rest of the season”.
Ben will be hoping that the second half of the season brings a change in fortune for his debut year in GT3. Out of the 6 races Ben has competed in so far this year, one was cancelled outright due to heavy snow, whilst in another he was not able to race the GT3 car due to covid restrictions affecting one of his teammates. A result was put out of reach in 3 more due to mechanical failures, whilst a fight back from a teammates early incident in the legendary 24H of Nurburgring was curtailed when the race was paused for 15 hours due to fog.
Each time Ben has been able to race the car however, he has demonstrated his ability and rate of learning. Ben is looking forward to the remainder of the season as, undoubtedly, a result is just waiting in the wings.
Ben next races for Walkenhorst Motorsport in the BMW M6 GT3 in the Nurburgring Langstrecken Serie on 10th and 11th July 2021.