28.9.17 Kaufmann: fastest Group H lap round the Nordschleife
Best lap time at the seventh VLN round as consolation for P2. Some thoughts on what to do in a Local Yellow zone.
Wolfgang Kaufmann and Porsche Kremer Racing are on an upward trajectory in the VLN endurance championship on the Nürburgring. When the early part of the season showed a disadvantage in power over their competitors. For the second half of the year, the playing field is level again. “We still have less power than the other Porsches in our group, but with plenty of work on our suspension setup, we now have a car with perfect handling”, Kaufmann outlines the thorough work his team has done from race to race.
In qualifying, Kaufmann/Baunach went easy on their Kremer Racing Porsche 997 K3; the single lap they turned was nevertheless enough for P2 on the Group H grid. As usual, Kaufmann was at the helm of the Porsche for the initial two stints of the race. “The start went very well, and I stuck right with the leader”, Kaufmann sums up his first lap, “I had an advantage under braking, but initially I wasn’t close enough to get alongside him.”At the end of lap 1, Kaufmann gave it another try on the long Döttinger Höhe straight; but again, he had to back off. It was only a lap later that “Fighter” Kaufmann was rewarded for his tenacity. Again the German went on the attack on the Nordschleife’s longest straight; and this time he took the lead in Group H.
Over the course of the next few laps, he was initially able to extend the gap to the runner-up before a number of Local Yellows made his advantage melt away. “Sadly, not every driver has taken to heart the rule that double waved yellow flags still allow for a speed of 120 kph. More than once, I was caught behind cars that went no faster than 60, 70 kph. That cost us a lot of time”, the professional driver says.
Until the first scheduled stop, Kaufmann held his lead. Refuelling took longer than expected and set the Kremer Racing crew back to P2. Kaufmann’s second stint was dominated by Local Yellow phases that made closing the gap to the leader all but impossible; and when the race was stopped 30 before the scheduled 4 hour duration over several accidents at the Fuchsröhre section, 2nd place in Group H was their end result.
“It was not to be”, Kaufmann sums up VLN round 7, “again we showed that we are capable of running at the front. However, the refueling and the Yellows slowed us down too much. I hope that at the next VLN race in two weeks’ time, we can get the win the whole team deserves.”
Kaufmann was critical about the way some of his fellow drivers handled the Yellow zones. “Again I saw that under a single yellow flag, one or two drivers don’t decelerate much; they just keep on it. Only a double Yellow makes them jump on the brakes, quite abruptly. And some still ignore the rule that you can only get back up to speed once you have reached the position of the green flag, not at the first sight of it. Not only is it against the rules, it also puts everyone in the danger area at risk, be it the marshals or the drivers whose cars have stranded there. I hope this subject will be discussed in more detail at the next drivers’ briefing.”