VLN: Patric Niederhauser makes successful debut at legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife
Just two weeks after the ADAC GT Masters finale, Patric Niederhauser faced yet another new challenge this 2017 season when he lined up at the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife for the eighth round of the VLN endurance championship. This race outing in the Opel Astra OPC Cup prepared by Lubner Motorsport was a first in many respects for him, as it was both his first time competing at the legendary 20.832-km circuit in the Eifel and his maiden outing in a touring car.
Right on his debut he experienced the Nordschleife’s special character which has made the racetrack so famous in the world of motorsport. His task was made more difficult during the four-hour race by the changeable weather typical of the Eifel as well as accidents. He produced a faultless drive in the field of 158 cars and successfully posted the first kilometres needed for his Class A permit. More races at the Nordschleife are planned.
Patric, what exactly was the reason behind your first outing at the Nordschleife?
It was so that I could post the first laps needed towards getting my Class A permit. I plan to enter GT3 races on the Nordschleife in 2018 and need my Class A permit in order to do that. This was my first race on the Nordschleife, and there were some other things that were new to me too, as I’ve never raced a front-wheel drive car before or one with a conventional H-pattern gear change. There was quite a lot to learn for me.
How did you come to race with Lubner Motorsport and how did you prepare?
I asked around a bit first about the chances of getting my Class A permit, and friends told me about Lubner Motorsport. It was definitely the right decision, to tackle the Nordschleife for the first time with them. The team have a lot of experience and helped me a lot. I did quite a few laps in the simulator before in order to get to know the circuit. I also went around the track a couple of times in my road car and so knew the sequence of turns, but going out in the racing car was very different, I have to say.
Conditions that weekend were very tricky. How did you get on?
It was a big challenge, especially in view of the weather. It rained on Friday. Saturday was dry for the qualifying, and conditions during the race were mixed. I drove in the wet a couple of times on slicks, which was very demanding. Also, there were a few crashes in the field. It wasn’t easy. Apart from that, dealing properly with the traffic was a real challenge, because there were some pretty fast GT3 cars out on track. It’s one of the special features of races on the Nordschleife, the fact that there are many different vehicles taking part. Respect is needed on all sides.
You’ve already raced at many other famous tracks. What did you think of the Nordschleife?
There’s nothing quite like the Nordschleife. Zandvoort and Brands Hatch are similar, but it’s the length of the circuit that makes the old Nürburgring so very special. You pass a section of track that is wet, and then it’s dry on the next lap but wet somewhere else five kilometres further on. It’s difficult to adapt to the conditions. I really liked the track, and racing a GT3 must be out of this world, but before I can do that, I’ve got to complete at least one more race to get my Class A permit. We’re still trying to work out whether it will be this year or next.