Team GT Corse by Rinaldi celebrates first-class results in the SP9 and SP8 classes at the fifth round of the VLN season.

Team GT Corse by Rinaldi put in a strong performance in the fifth round of the Nürburgring Endurance Championship (VLN). The Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 of Marco Seefried, Arturo Devigus, Mike Jäger and Alexander Mattschull finished third in the strongly contested SP9 class, while the sister car in the SP8 category came second with Pierre Kaffer, Andrea Barlesi and Stephan Köhler. Due to a questionable procedure of the race control, the race was shortened to 2:45 hours. This meant that not all the drivers from the “Eifel Ferraristi” squad could be used. The shortening of the fifth VLN race of the 2014 season caused a lot of discussion behind the scenes.

Danny Pfeil (team manager): “On a podium place in both classes. That sounds good at first. But if you take a closer look at the background, it becomes clear that even more would have been possible. Unfortunately, I made the wrong decision regarding the tyres under changing conditions at the second stop. That prevented us from moving up to third place overall. We will learn from this, do our homework and then attack even harder. I think the race control’s approach on Saturday was questionable. They want to enforce the double yellow system with all their might, which is an impossible task. Penalties were discussed for hours, the race was delayed and shortened. 500 pilots had been promised a four-hour race. In the end, we had to finish early so that a kart race and a competition with 20 scooters could take place on time afterwards. Something doesn’t add up. The people responsible for the VLN should think about whether such a procedure is really useful for securing the VLN brand that has been built up over 20 years.”

Michele Rinaldi (Technical Director): “Our team has made an incredible effort in the past weeks. We hardly had any breathing space, were constantly racing all over Europe. I am very proud of our team. The podium places in the SP9 and SP8 classes give us another big boost on the way to the 24-hour race in Spa-Francorchamps. In Belgium, the next important race is now just around the corner for us.”

Marco Seefried (driver #458): “Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to follow the Wochenspiegel Porsche in the starting phase because the competitors simply had much more grip on the softer tyres. But I managed to complete my stint cleanly and quickly and handed over the car in second place. Afterwards, Arturo did a first-class job.”

Arturo Devigus (driver #458): “It was not an easy task as the conditions were really tricky. It was too wet for slicks for long stretches but too dry for rain tyres at the same time. Unfortunately, we made the wrong tyre choice in between and possibly lost a place among the top three in the overall standings. Nevertheless, I am very happy with the result. Many thanks to Alexander and Mike, who gave up their races in my favour.”

Alexander Mattschull (driver #458): “I have really driven a lot in the past weeks. Therefore, it was natural for me to give way to my colleagues, some of whom had very long journeys. My colleagues were not to be envied when they drove in the most difficult conditions. The VLN organisers have to ask themselves when professional motorsport will be practised at the Nordschleife again. The solution with double yellow is no longer sustainable. The fact that a race is shortened because there is not enough time to punish all the offences from the practice session will hopefully remain a one-off incident in German motorsport.”

Mike Jäger (driver #458): “To put our arrow-quick Ferrari in third place in practice was really awesome. It was a childhood dream come true for me. In favour of the strategy, I decided to forego my entry in the race, because that was the only way we could complete the race with only two stops. In this way, we were able to secure a strong third place in the SP9 class. Arturo did a really good job.”

Pierre Kaffer (driver #457): “I went into the race weekend in my home country with great anticipation together with Andrea and Stephan. Unfortunately, our tyre strategy was not perfect, we stopped twice incorrectly. In practice, I brought our SP8 Ferrari up to the fifth place. Sounds good, but it could have been even better. With a slightly better set-up on the new tyres, a time of 8:15 minutes would have been within reach. Once you’ve made those adjustments, I’m excited to see what else you can achieve with this strong car. The potential is huge.”

Andrea Barlesi (driver #457): “It was my first race in the Eifel in the weather that is typical there, with changing conditions and slicks at times on a wet track. Pierre handed over the car to me in the lead, unfortunately, we relied on rain tyres at the stop. Later we realised that we should have made a different decision. Towards the end of the race, I lost about 40 seconds per lap because of the tyre choice – no chance. In the end, we finished second in the SP8 class. Overall, we can be satisfied with that. For me, it was a very valuable weekend. I’ll take the knowledge with me and continue to improve on the basis of that.”

Stephan Köhler (driver #457): “For me, it was the same as for Alexander and Mike: watch. It was a great idea of the race management to discuss the punishment of some drivers for such a long time so that in the end about 100 drivers couldn’t be used in the shortened race. That’s not possible. The double yellow system that has been used so far does not work. We have to realise that after two years. Just imagine if we all had to slow down to 60 km/h when there was a broken-down vehicle on the hard shoulder of the motorway. It would be chaos, it would be dangerous. But that’s what you do all the time in racing on the Nordschleife. I’ll now watch this for three more races. If nothing changes, I’ll be gone soon. Until then, I believe in common sense and look forward to my next stint.”