The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 started with good results into the 2011 season of the VLN series (Nürburgring Endurance Championships).
Two of the gullwing cars finished third and fourth respectively. It was the first time after the development and test programme of the SLS AMG GT3, that the customer teams entered the car without factory support.
After 28 laps over the Nordschleife and the shortened Grand Prix circuit, Black Falcon was the most successful gullwing team: Former DTM driver Thomas Jäger, Kenneth Heyer, Jan Seyffarth and Jeroen Bleekemolen finished third overall and first of the GT3 cars. Horn Motorsport with David Horn and Sascha Bert with another SLS AMG GT3 came home fourth, despite a spin at the Mercedes-Arena on lap 24; they had started 18th on the grid. Two other gullwing cars of Black Falcon with drivers Andrii Lebed/Ralf Schall/Hannes Plesse and Vimal Mehta/Sean Paul Breslin/Sean Patrick Bresling ended up 7th 19th respectively.
Mamerow Racing with former DTM driver Armin Hahne and Chris Mamerow retired due to a technical problem. When Hahne pitted from the lead on lap 21, Mamerow was not able to continue. ROWE RACING did not start following an accident of Dominik Schwager in qualifying. He had damaged his car so badly, that the team was not able to repair it in time for the race.
The best SLS AMG GT3 in qualifying was the Black Falcon team car with Thomas Jäger/Kenneth Heyer/Jan Seyffarth/Jeroen Bleekemolen in third position; followed by Armin Hahne/Chris Mamerow in the Mamerow Racing car in seventh place. Hahne’s fast lap was disrupted by yellow flags so that he wasn’t able to benefit from the improving conditions towards the end of the session.
It was an exciting and close race right from the start. After three laps, Jäger was third with 1.3sec behind the leader. Four different teams were in the lead with three different makes.
Thomas Jäger, third: “A good start of the Mercedes-AMG customer sports programme. Today, the SLS AMG GT3 proved fast and well-engineered. Also for our colleagues of Mamerow Racing a podium finish was possible. It’s a shame that they retired from the lead. However, this was just the beginning of a long season and with the SLS’s potential I expect many good results.” In the course of the best possible support of Mercedes-AMG for their customer teams, test driver Thomas Jäger is racing alternately for the teams.
Customer Sports: SLS AMG GT3s entered by private teams
The SLS AMG GT3s have been entered exclusively by private teams. Black Falcon took part with three cars while Mamerow Racing, Horn Motorsport and ROWE RACING were at the start with one car each.
The VLN Nürburgring Endurance Championship has been held since 1977, and is seen as Europe’s most successful broad-based motorsport series. The ten races of the 2011 season will be held exclusively on the Nürburgring’s legendary Nordschleife (North Loop) and the short link to the Grand Prix circuit. The field, with different vehicle models ranging from near-series compact cars to recent classics and right up to thoroughbred super-sports cars, guarantees attractive and exciting races.
The next event will be staged on 30 April 2011.