SUPERB FIGHT BACK AFTER EARLY TECHNICAL PROBLEMS AT NLS4!
For Bedfordshire’s endurance racing BRDC Superstar driver Ben Tuck, the 4th round of the Nurburgring Endurance Series in Germany marked the halfway point of his 2022 season. As the race played out to the chequered flag, it represented a good snapshot of the season so far – huge potential and great determination frustrated by circumstance. A continuing engine issue hampered ultimate pace and was compounded by a technical problem at the first pitstop. But undaunted, Tuck set about a masterful demonstration of his talent to claw back huge chunks of time in the final stint as the only car on the circuit in the closing laps to consistently match the pace of the two leaders
Ultimately, the result didn’t reflect the performance Ben achieved during the race, with the #35 Walkenhorst run BMW M4 GT3 coming home in 7th position.
Portents of the weekend ahead emerged during Friday practice as the big Alpecin liveried BMW struggled to deliver full power, particularly in the final section of the lap – the mighty 2km long straight known as the Döttinger Höe. Whereas Tuck was able to find ways to minimise the impact in some other parts of the imposing 23km long circuit, the straight is all about the engine and his final sector times remained stubbornly shy of the leaders.
Ben took to the track for qualifying on the morning of race day, thankfully in clear and dry conditions and posted a lap good enough for 6th position on the grid. “We’re all working hard to get the best out of the car, but 6th is OK, and we’ll have to see what we can do from there” he said after the session.
The start of the race saw Ben make a strong challenge for position into the first few corners coming out in 5th place. With the strategy dictating a very early stop, Ben was back in the pits just 4 laps later to hand over the car to the first of his crew mates. It was at this point that the next glitch occurred, and a technical problem held the car in the pits for about 90 seconds longer than planned. This was enough to pitch the #35 BMW further down the order.
However, the crew fought on, and Ben stood by ready to return to the driving seat for the final 8 laps. With more than an hour on the clock, Ben took the car back in 7th position and over 4 minutes behind the 6th placed car and some 6 ½ minutes behind the leading cars. But never one to give up, Ben set about a recovery drive at stunning pace. Knowing that the final sector was his Achilles heel, Ben matched the times of the leading pair around the rest of the lap, averaging 2nd or 3rd fastest and with incredible consistency. In doing so he was the only other car on circuit to be within a whisker of the leading pairs times as he ate into the time deficit to 6th place.
By the final lap, Ben had slashed the gap to the next car from over 4 minutes to almost 30s. “That was tough, but good,” said Ben. “I really had to make the best of the stint and carve through the traffic without losing any time. I knew we were dropping about a second on the straight, so I had to be as fast as possible around the rest [of the lap]! The car has actually felt really good balance wise and that really showed I could push hard and also that I’m always improving with getting through the traffic. Just a shame about the pitstop – we’d have had a good shot at 5th.”
The final stint again showed what potential is in the car. With less than 2 weeks before the next race, Ben is hoping that potential will deliver a result as he now turns his attention to round 5 on 9th July 2022.
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