18.9.17 VLN: tough going for Wolfgang Kaufmann
A win in the VLN’s Group H remains elusive for Porsche Kremer Racing driver Wolfgang Kaufmann.
The second half of Germany’s VLN endurance championship on the Nürburgring commenced with the crown jewel on the calendar, the 6 hour ADAC Ruhr Pokal Rennen. It was another opportunity for Wolfgang Kaufmann to steer Kremer Racing’s spectacular Porsche 997 K3 to victory in Group H, a win that has so far eluded the team. Qualifying practice saw Baunach/Kaufmann in close proximity to their main opponent; but the race quickly showed the true balance of power – this time around, 2nd place was the achievable maximum. The end of their hopes of a podium finish came five hours into the race. “On the Döttinger Höhe straight, in the rain, I was following a BMW Z4”, explains Kaufmann, “toward the end of the straight, there was a light touch, my car veered off to the left into the grass and impacted the barrier, thankfully in at relatively shallow angle. The damage was mainly to the bodywork, but the left rear wheel also took a hit.” Kaufmann drove the Porsche into a safe area but “unfortunately, the DMSB track safety crew towed the car to the Nordschleife pits at grandstand T13. That lead to a Code 60 for the other competitors at what is usually a very fast part of the track. That was pretty dangerous, and towing our car over the grass made the damage worse.”
Two weeks after this disappointment, the team’s next chance for success came at the RCM DMV Grenzlandrennen, a 4 hour contest. Kaufmann again shared the 997 K3 with Kremer Racing team owner Eberhard Baunach. As the professional driver in the team, Kaufmann took the start, again in P2 on the Group H grid. And he forced the issue: “I kept close to the leading Porsche and stayed right with him”, recalled a happy “Piranha” Kaufmann. In previous races, the Kremer Racing squad had suffered from a power deficit compared to the other cars in its class; this time, however, Kaufmann was even able to take the lead! As intermittent showers swept over the circuit, the man from Westerwald managed to build his advantage; victory in Group H was within reach. But again, it was not to be. Five laps into the race, a misfire set in that brought the Kremer Porsche into the pits for an early stop. “The engine performance kept dropping off below 5000 rpm; and there was too much of the race left to carry on like this”, explained Kaufmann who did not want take the risk of an engine failure. The pit crew diagnosed a faulty lambda sensor and managed to swap the component, which is not easily accessible, in an astounding 20 minutes.
In arrears by over two laps, Kaufmann re-entered the race to finish his stint behind the wheel, and with the once again perfect Porsche was able to go a consistently quick pace. “Engine and chassis were perfect, I was able to put on the pressure”, said Kaufmann, “we definitely would have been in for the Group H win this time. Too bad it all came to nothing over the malfunction of such a tiny component. We’ve been hoping so long for a win, and we deserve it.” At the end of the four hours, with Kaufmann also driving the last stint, he and Eberhard Baunach had to be content with 3rd spot, one lap down on the winners. “We won’t quit”, is Kaufmann’s message to the competition, “in the next two VLN rounds we’ll be on the attack again.”
Round 7 of the VLN championship on the Nürburgring, the ADAC Reinoldus Langstreckenrennen, is scheduled for September 23.