In clichéd Nürburgring VLN conditions, our Milltek Sport team powered through to secure a third win in the Toyota Motorsports GT86 Cup!
After a soaking wet shakedown session on Friday afternoon, our new, post-N24, gearbox began to fail. Thus began a weekend where every single team member played a part in the eventual victory. Our gearbox was ordered at 6pm, the end of Friday practice, and by 8pm Toyota Motorsports were delivering it to the Manheller workshop. Shortly before 10pm, we were strapping the GT86 back in to the Milltek Sport trailer ready to return to the paddock.
Qualifying began on a damp track, and it was pretty obvious that the fastest laps could only be set in the final minutes of the 2-hour session.
Luke was the last of our four drivers to step in, and his lap was going well. Still not full dry pace, but as each sector turned green (to signify it as a fastest time) a yellow sector caused by a small incident allowed the Toyota Swiss Motorsport to pip us to the pole position, and scoop those vital 2 championship points.
Four drivers? Well, with 6 hours of racing, and a 6-lap (1-hour-ish) maximum stint length, Milltek invited back Tom Onslow-Cole and Werner Gusenbauer to further strengthen our dream team!
The start of our group 2 was marred by an accident between the Getspeed and Frikadelli Porsche in group 1. The ensuing Code 60 flags were so difficult to see, and there were so many infringements by so many drivers, that the race control obviously took a decision not to punish anybody for any part of it. See for yourself below, from 3h47m19s:
In this confusion, Luke did the right thing and played it safe, sticking to the Code 60 while others leapt ahead.
As the penalties failed to be applied, it was obvious we’d have an uphill struggle ahead. From a low point of P5, Luke battled back up to P2 while our Championship rivals ahead fell foul of a random Clio collision. Tom then took over while it was still mostly dry, and then handed the car over to Werner as a light drizzle moistened the Nordschleife.
By the half way point, our clean and fast stints had paid off. With no mechanical problems, no unexpected stops, we’d risen to P1 in the GT86 Cup class!
But rain was approaching, and a decision had to be made about my stint. Would it be on slicks, or wets? Luckily for us, the rain arrived just as Werner was about to pit. I mean *just*… Tom on the roof of the pit-building, eyes on the horizon, and we changed from slicks to wets the moment Werner hit the brakes!
With a near-perfect call from the whole team, and other teams frantically re-pitting after guessing wrong, I began what would turn into a lovely double-stint in the full rain. No stress, no worries, just a couple of hours of therapeutically fantastic wet racing.
At one point we were nearly a full lap ahead, and the hard Pirelli wets allowed us to stay out when a short-lived gap in the rain prompted many other cars to needlessly stop for a short-lived single lap on slick tyres!
I handed the car back to Luke for the last three laps, and we nervously awaited his smooth-and-steady dash to the line, on wets, in drying conditions.
No risks, no stress, just bring the car to the line:
Behind us, the order had settled down somewhat, with a resurgent Swiss car back into second position, despite that Clio catastrophe!
Then just after 6pm in the evening… and over 6 minutes ahead of our nearest competitor…
After enjoying pizza and ice cream at Fudgy OG’s, a cursory inspection of our car showed that despite a just-before-grid driveshaft change… despite the driveshafts being packed with €300/kg Pankal grease… DESPITE us raising the ride height another 15mm… our drive shafts had failed again.
It was plain, blind luck that we actually finished. If the race had been drier (and therefore hotter) we’d have almost certainly failed to arrive at the finish line!
#SaveTheDriveshaft: The Saga Continues.