Patric Niederhauser reduces deficit in VLN finale on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife
On Saturday, Patric Niederhauser competed on the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife for only the second time in his career. In the context of the final VLN Endurance Championship race of 2017, the 26-year-old from Switzerland was once again driving an Opel Astra OPC Cup entered by Lubner Motorsport. By the end of the race, Niederhauser had taken yet another giant step towards qualifying for his DMSB Permit Nordschleife Stufe A (‘A-Permit’), which will allow him to drive a GT3 car in future VLN races and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.
As the season drew to a close, Niederhauser once again demonstrated his flexibility of response, powers of perception and sheer speed. At the start of the race, the 24.36km track was still very wet. The team opted for a different tyre strategy from their main opponents. The surface started to dry out a lot faster than anticipated, which necessitated an additional pit stop for a change of wheels.
Patric drove the second stint of the four-hour race, by which time the gap to the class leaders was up to two minutes. From the first moment onwards, Niederhauser was extracting maximum performance from the Opel Astra OPC Cup and closing the gap on the opposition. By the end of his stint, the deficit had been cut to just one minute. Ultimately, it was not enough for the class victory, but the goal of obtaining the A-Permit on the North Loop had come a major step closer.
Patric will use the forthcoming winter break to prepare for 2018.
Patric, you made your second outing on the Nordschleife on Saturday, and you were on song right from the start...
The Nordschleife is simply mega. I am absolutely delighted to have had the opportunity to compete in the last two VLN races of the season as a member of the Lubner Motorsport squad. Obviously, you need to make intensive preparations before facing the challenge of the ‘Green Hell’. I did quite well on my first appearance there, but I significantly improved my performance in the season finale.
When you took over the car, there were around two minutes between you and the class leader. By the end of your stint, you had reduced the deficit to one minute. Tell us how you managed that.
When I got into the car, the track was dry, so I was able to push right from the start. My lap times were always in the green range, and I got through my stint without any problems or making any errors. This is extremely important, as every kilometre you put in on the Nordschleife is an essential part of the learning process. At the end of my stint, I had reduced the gap by one minute.
Tell us about the race start.
The eventual class winners initially went for a different tyre strategy than we did. As the track surface began to dry out, we had to pit for dry tyres. We lost a lot of time doing that. At any one section of the Nordschleife, you can find it wet on one lap and dry again on the next. So you are constantly having to adapt your driving, and that is the big challenge.
Your A-Permit is now within reach...
Yes, that was my main aim. After all, I would like to compete in more VLN races next year and also be involved in the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Preferably in a GT3 car. Having that amount of power in your engine and going flat out on the Nordschleife must be an indescribable feeling. I would like to take this opportunity to thank Lubner Motorsport as well as Rudolf and Manfred Rhyn for making it possible to compete the two VLN races.