Modern super sports cars and historic racing cars: for many purists, this was nearly a sacrilege when the AvD began including contemporary motorsport in its programme a few years ago. Since then, this has not only become completely accepted practice, but tomorrow’s classics actually enhance the event, because the super sports cars from the International Audi R8 LMS Cup and the FCD Racing Series dovetail superbly with their automotive ancestors in the other races and demo rounds of the weekend.
Ex-DTM champion Frank Biela supports youngsters
“Racing again, finally” – more than likely, that’s how the Audi R8 LMS Cup drivers, who are ending their corona-enforced break this weekend, feel. That the season is now opening at the pinnacle event of historic motorsport is a positive in the protagonists’ view. “I personally like the combination of old and new cars – both looking at and driving them,” says Frank Biela (56). The former DTM driver (champion of the 1991 season) feels comfortable at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix. “Actually, that’s an intriguing mix but, obviously, it’s also a matter of taste. As a racing series, we’re happy to be able to compete here.”
On the grid this weekend as well is a number of historic Audi models that bring back special memories to Biela. “Many vehicles here represent motorsport eras that I’ve personally experienced. They include old DTM cars I’m intimately familiar with because they date to the days when I’d just joined the series. That makes me turn into a fan myself – and I sometimes feel that it’s almost a shame to field these cars in races.” Today’s Audi brand ambassador is well-versed in historic hardware, now and then driving exhibits from the factory’s collection for demo purposes – from Le Mans prototypes through to the pre-war Auto Union racing cars. “Whenever I have the choice between driving something modern and something that’s vintage, I tend to choose the old model,” he admits.
This weekend, though, his full attention is devoted to the youngsters. On behalf of Audi customer racing, Biela assists the young drivers in understanding their racing cars better, reading data analyses and adjusting their driving style – normally, from the pit wall’s perspective, but “This weekend, I’m allowed to get into the car myself for a change,” grins Biela, who appreciates the GT4 racer from the driver’s perspective as well: “The R8 LMS in the Cup set-up is neutral and controllable, a pleasant racing car. Obviously, that makes the task of being really fast all the more challenging.” His assistance is well-received. Tom Spitzenberger (21), one of the Cup drivers, says: “Working with someone like Frank Biela and being in the same field with him is really cool. He has huge experience especially in data analysis and that’s really beneficial.” The youngster appreciates the environment at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix as well: “I really like the classic racing cars – especially the old DTM cars and of course the Formula One cars with their V10 and V12 engines.”
Season highlight for the Ferrari Club
The mix of contemporary and historic cars also finds favour with the second ‘modern’ racing series of the weekend, where it is actually part of the programme: “Ultimately, all sports cars produced by Ferrari are admitted to the FCD Racing Series,” says Walter Ben Dörrenberg, who in his role as Ferrari Club Deutschland chairman is instrumental in organising the mix of a race weekend and club meeting for the ‘ferraristi’. The Challenge itself represents a small journey into the brand history of the Italians: “Our oldest car is also the highlight here: a 348 Competizione of which about half a dozen still exists. The car roars as loudly as a big one even though it’s not the fastest,” Dörrenberg says with a laugh. The rest of the field documents the brand history up until the 488 GT3 as a current model.
But are the Italian sports cars compatible with historic racing? The organisers of the series and of the AvD OGP discussed this question as well before integrating the series in the programme. “I feel that we’re a pretty good fit here,” says Walter Ben Dörrenberg. “Feedback from the audience at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix keeps showing us that the modern vehicles are well-received and meet with keen interest. So, the mix of old and young doesn’t hurt the event but, quite to the contrary, makes for a good complement.”
The entrants find favour with competing in the historic environment too. “For us as a club, the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix is the event of the year,” says its chairman Dörrenberg. “The FCD Racing Series races here with a larger field than at other events. The Nürburgring is one of the world’s most prominent race tracks. Even the atmosphere here is in a class of its own.”