Muhlner Motorsport do the double in qualifying and race
Bermes / Karlsson ahead of Krumbach / Bergmeister
Nurburgring / Francorchamps. The Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, based Muhlner Motorsport Team entered all three Porsches for the first time in the 9th round of the German Endurance Championship.
The Moskovskaya Porsche number 695 was driven by Jochen Krumbach (Eschweiler) and Tim Bergmeister (Langenfeld). The regular crew of the Krimskoye Porsche (#696), Krumbach (driving both cars) and Heinz-Josef (Juppy) Bermes (Willich) were joined by the quick Swede Ulf Karlsson. In their second event with the new car (#697), Wilfried Schmitz (Setterich) again shared driving duties with Marcel Engels (Willich).
In qualifying, Krumbach first drove the Krimiskoye Porsche, 696, and with an excellent 8:41 took provisional pole in the very competitive class - but then went even better and beat himself with the Moskovskaya Porsche; with a fantastic 8:37 he put the 695 car on pole and gifted the Muhlner Team the double - a one-two grid. Marcel Engles was not far behind - burning up the tarmac with a very good 8:45 in only his second race in a Porsche, the time being good enough for 4th on the grid. After such an excellent qualifying, with all 3 Muhlner Porsches in the first two rows of the grid, the team entered the race full of optimism.
Krumbach did the first stint in the Moskovskaya Porsche, Karlsson the Krimskoye Porsche and Engels the 697 car. From the start, the trio ran at the sharp end of the Porsche Cup field. Their more economical driving style allowed all 3 cars to stay out a lap longer than the opposition and to pit in the order Krumbach ahead of Engels, then Karlsson. All three were readied at the same time with Bergmeister taking over the 695, Bermes the 696 and Schmitz the 697.
So far so good - but then things started to happen. First of all, Krumbach got an urgent phone call and had to leave the circuit due to family issues and would not be able to drive the 696 car. No sooner had he left the circuit than Bergmeister was involved in a collision on the GP circuit and had to do a short lap, coming in to the pits for repairs. All four tyres were flat-spotted and the left rear wheel and damper were damaged. After repairs, Bergmeister returned to the track last in class and with his hobbled car was no longer able to attack. Team boss Renate-Carola Muhlner withdrew Krumbach officially from the 695 car, allowing Karlsson to get back into the car for the final stint. And instead of calm returning, the next bad news followed shortly: Schmitz had to retire the 697 car just after half distance after an accident following a tyre blow-out.
But the final reckoning only comes at the end - a clever race strategy and quick, consistent lap times from both cars, including the damaged Moskovskaya Porsche, meant that in the final hour of the four hour race, the two were running second and third in the class. With all that had happened, this would already have been a very satisfying result. But as the leading car then dropped out with a mechanical problem, the team was able to celebrate a double win: Bermes & Karlsson winning from Krumbach & Bergmeister. Krumbach also got fastest lap.
"What a race! From hero to zero to hero - again! I'm delighted for Juppy and Ulf - they made no mistakes, drove consistent and quick laps and didn't let themselves get distracted by what was going on around them. Jochen once again showed what a top driver he is. He got a one-two on the grid, led the race in Moskovskaya Porsche, handed over to Tim in the lead and drove the race fastest lap. All this knowing that his father lay gravely ill in hospital. When news came of his father's worsening condition, Jochen cancelled his 2nd start to drive to the hospital where his father, Willi Krumbach, died shortly afterwards. Willi was always at his son's races - we'll miss him." So summarised Bernhard Muhlner an unusual race which ended with a one-two victory.