A touring car race in a class of its own kicked off this Saturday of AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix racing. The grid of the AvD Touring Car and GT Trophy was made up of 45 cars with international drivers who made for gripping one-hour on-track action. Even though 41 cars crossing the finishing line meant an extremely low DNF rate, misfortune, of all driver squads, struck one of the fancied ones: Heinz Schmersal (Wuppertal) / Mike Stursberg (Wermelskirchen) retired after their 1971 Ford Escort RS 1600 suffered engine failure and, to top it off, unintentionally caused a 20-minute interruption that temporarily upset the tight schedule on Saturday. Instead, in the year of the 50th anniversary of the Ford RS models, another Escort held up the flag of the cars made by the Cologne-based manufacturer: Sebastian Glaser (Munich) won the race in a Ford Escort RS 1600 BDA (also from 1971) trailed by two Alfa Romeo cars: Alexander Furiani (Cologne) drove his 1965 Giulia Sprint GTA home in second place ahead of Markus Niestrath (Wegberg) in an Alfa Romeo 1750 GT Am. As a result, both took the top spots in the special Alfa Romeo classification as well. In the Generations Cup held as part of this race since last year, a ‘familiar face’ at the AvD Oldtimer Grand Prix was victorious: long-standing participant Christian Graf von Wedel (Frankfurt), who competed this year with his son, Lando, in a Lotus Elan S2 of Team Gotcha Racing, saw the chequered flag in position seven. The result marked a superb performance particularly by the son who managed to crown with a nice success what was only the second race weekend in his young career.
Merzario: “I love the Nürburgring”
In spite of the interference due to the interruption, winner Sebastian Glaser said after the one-hour race: “It was fun – a great race. Needless to say, I’m sorry that the Rüddel Escort retired because I was prepared for a fierce battle with it. That’s why I pushed hard at the beginning of the race and achieved an advantage. I knew that once Mike Stursberg took the wheel of the Rüddel car it might turn into a close battle. But then they unfortunately retired and I was able to defend my lead all the way to the finish.” The other classes saw spirited battles for victory as well. Glaser, on taking overall victory, decided the fight in the particularly strong T/CT 19 field (1.6 – 2.5 litres of displacement, generations 1970 / 71) in his favour as well.
The equally strong T/(CT) 8 field (1.3 to 1.6 litres of displacement, 1962 – 1965) in which events were determined by the battle between the Ford Lotus Cortina against the Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint cars attracted a lot of attention. Trailing the victorious Britons Geoffy und Alan Lets (Ford Lotus Cortina), ex-Formula One driver Arturo Merzario and his teammate Roberto Restlli (both Italy) crossed the finishing line in an Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint. Subsequently, the Italian beamed: “I travelled to the Nürburgring for the first time in 1963 to race a small Abarth. Since then, I suppose I haven’t skipped a single important race. I love this track – the Grand Prix circuit just like the legendary Nordschleife. That’s why I like to return again and again.” A remarkable 27th place was clinched by seven-time German Rally Champion Matthias Kahle (Cologne) in a small Skoda 130 RS who, as a result, won the small T/CT 27 class (1.15 – 1.3 litres of displacement, 1976) as well. “This race was not a really easy one for us. We lack a little speed on the straights. In cornering, we make up a few places but lose them again on accelerating out of the turns. In situations like these you mainly try not to get in anyone’s way.”
The Generations Cup, held for the second time, to which parent-child racer combinations were invited, proved a popular event. Ten family teams were pitted against each other and victory went to the Gotcha Racing team in which Christian Graf von Wedel competed together with his son, Lando. Up-and-coming driver Lando subsequently said: “This is only my second race weekend. In our first event at Spa we managed to clinch two class victories and this one went well too. My father drove the first stint and after the interruption we took turns at the wheel. My race went well. I was not able to keep Glaser’s Escort at bay, but other than that I managed to superbly defend myself. There was also a nice fight with a BMW 2002 – then the chequered flag fell. I’m highly pleased.”