TMG United’s hopes of another VLN podium were dashed by unseasonal snow at the Nürburgring, denying the TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH volunteer team the chance to again challenge to be the best GT86 crew.
Having achieved that honour on their way to second in the season opener, which was shortened due to fog, their chances were marred by the notorious Eifel weather at VLN 2. After a cold but dry qualifying, early April snowfall set in while the cars were lining up for the start of the four-hour race. The race started as planned but as the snowfall got heavier, the organisers abandoned the race after only two laps.
Alex Fielenbach, who as usual shared the car with Adrian Brusius, was at the wheel of TMG United’s GT86 CS-Cup when the lights went green and explained how challenging the conditions were: “When the race started, the temperatures were really low and the track was partially covered with snow. It was not possible to get the tyres to work. In the first lap there have been some accidents and it was quite chaotic. In some places it was even quite difficult to judge if it is dry, only wet or already snow. I didn’t risk too much and just tried to keep our position.”
Alex, just like team-mate Adrian, has extensive Nordschleife knowledge despite his age and used this to keep the car on the road in difficult conditions after starting sixth in the SP3 class, but it counted for little as no result was declared.
TMG United welcomed three new team members for VLN 2 and one of them, TMG Engine Engineer Domenico Fedele, summed up his VLN debut: “Saturday was my first experience in the VLN competition. I really enjoyed the atmosphere inside the team and appreciated the fact that everyone has the possibility to do every kind of activity inside the team. But more than that I was impressed about the commitment level of everyone in TMG United. This experience gave me the possibility to do something different from my standard job and learn some practical aspects that for sure are going to be useful in my daily tasks. I look forward to the next race: 24 hours of the Nürburgring!”
TMG United Team Manager Jörg Mertin said that the new team members were thrown in at the deep end due to the conditions: “They couldn’t have got any better demonstration what ‘typical Eifel weather’ means. Already while we were loading the car here at TMG a few snowflakes were falling. This is never a good sign! For Saturday morning, we had a few test items to check during qualifying session, like mapping improvements for drivability, aero set-ups and a new tyre compound. We didn’t take too much risk and qualified in sixth position in a field of nine SP3 cars. While it was cold but dry in qualifying, just before the start of the formation lap it started to snow. Then during the first lap of the leading group, the snow increased and this lead to several crashes. Alex was able to keep our GT86 on the track, but he was struggling like all the others to warm up the tyres and get some grip. It was a short race and the special circumstances prevented us to get the full picture of the new tyre compound. As we will skip VLN 3, we have some homework to do now and will come up with a plan to maximise the training sessions at the 24-hour race.”
2019 Schedule for TMG United
23.03.2019 - VLN 1 - Drivers: Adrian Brusius, Alex Fielenbach - Pos: 2nd
13.04.2019 - VLN 2 - Drivers: Adrian Brusius, Alex Fielenbach - Cancelled
20.-23.06.2019 - 24h Nürburgring - Drivers: Brusius, Fielenbach, Peucker, Unteroberdörster