7.04.16 Strong start to the endurance racing season - with no reward
Pole position and fastest race lap for Wolfgang Kaufmann with the Kremer Porsche K3 at the VLN season opener, but a mechanical DNF just before the end of the race.
Wolfgang Kaufmann's long winter break was finally over this past weekend. The professional races not only had the first race on the Nordschleife to look forward to, but also the first appearance of the new Kremer Racing Porsche 997 K3. With exterior styling that recalls the iconic 935 K3 of the early 1980s, the car features the much more modern mechanics of the Porsche 997 Cup car.
Along with Porsche Kremer Racing proprietor Eberhard Baunach, Kaufmann took the start of the first VLN endurance race of the season. Different than last year the team is now entered in the Group H category that is seeing renewed interest. “This class offers more technical freedom”, Kaufmann elaborates, “more performance, certain liberties that can be taken in the construction of the cars, it all adds to the fun we have driving them.”
In qualifying, Kaufmann/Baunach controlled the competition from the outset; they put the spectacular 997 K3 on pole position for its class, with an advantage of 4 seconds over their nearest competitor. Kaufmann was again at the wheel for the start of the race, and led his start group onto the Nordschleife. As of lap 2, the “fighter” managed to get away from his pursuers and maintained a comfortable lead until the end of the 6th lap. “This year, we can use a larger tank than the 90 liter unit we have had up until now; sadly, the new one was not completed on time”, Kaufmann explains his early pit stop. He remained in the car for another full stint, then Baunach took his place.
The additional fuel stops meant that the team lost time to its competitors, so Kaufmann went into the final stint in 3rd position. A series of fast laps put him back in contention, within striking distance of the Group H leader. With a time of 8.34,148, Kaufmann not only turned the fastest lap of the race, he also bettered his own qualifying time by three seconds!
A class win in the 62nd ADAC Westfalenfahrt was within the team's reach when disaster struck with less than half an hour to go: “without any warning, the car had no power anymore at the big crest; and the engine made unidentifiable noises”, a dejected Kaufmann reported, “to limit the damage, I had to park the car. A shame - we had 2nd place in the bag, and the win was possible. Even in its first race, the Kremer Porsche 997 K3 ran almost flawlessly; Team Kremer Porsche has done an amazing job in giving us a perfect car.”
In spite of this premature end to his race, Kaufmann walked away from the Nürburgring event with some positive impressions: “the appreciation the many fans along the track show for our new Kremer Racing Porsche 997 K3 is incredible. Be it in the paddock before the start, be it along the track, we are getting thumbs-up and applause. That's a lot of fun!”
In two weeks' time, Wolfgang Kaufmann will be at the Nürburgring again. That event will be the qualifying race for the 24 Hours. As Group H cars are not eligible for this event, Kaufmann's car of choice will be Kremer Racing's 997 KR. Again, the team will switch to another class and enter the car in the hotly contested SP7.