BEST RESULT OF VLN SEASON FOR OWENS AND WALKENHORST MOTORSPORT DURING SEASON FINALE AT NURBURGRING-NORDSCHLEIFE
Raoul Owens helped Walkenhorst Motorsport secure its best finish of the year in the VLN endurance series at the Nurburgring-Nordschleife in Germany on Saturday, 21st October, with a competitive top four result during the final race of the 2017 season.
Returning to the increasingly popular category for the first time in several months, his last outing being the ADAC Zurich 24 Hour at the end of May, the British driver – who resides in impressed back behind the wheel of the No.681 BMW 235i.
Despite the length of time away from the fearsome track, Owens was quickly up to speed during testing and went on to qualify fifth fastest in class for the four-hour race to put himself and team-mate Rory Butcher in a strong position to challenge for the podium in the BMW 235i Racing Cup.
Scottish driver Butcher, who has been racing in the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship this season, took the opening stint of the big race which began on a wet track. Driving well, he was able to work his way into third position before handing the BMW over to Owens at mid-distance.
With the track drying out, and no further rain causing difficulty, when Owens joined the track he held second position after a great stop by the Walkenhorst Motorsport mechanics. Maintaining the place, he pushed on to try and keep a buffer to the cars in third and fourth but as the tyres started to wear more and more during the closing stages Owens began to come under pressure.
Unfortunately edged back to third and then fourth, despite some excellent defending, Owens had to settle for a nonetheless great top four finish which marked the best of the year for Walkenhorst and a terrific way to end the VLN season.
“Being the last VLN for 2017 made it all the more important to get a good result”, reflected a satisfied Owens, “I hadn’t been in the car for a few months so I knew I had to use practice on Friday as best as possible. Fortunately, the weather held out to give me a dry track and it only took me a couple of laps to get back into it.
“Qualifying was dry again and I was able to put in a lap good enough for fifth on the grid, so it gave us a good starting point to finish with a strong result. Rory [Butcher] got a good start and showed strong pace in tricky wet conditions, he was able to put in a couple of strong moves and when he came to stop we were running P3.”
Owens added: “After a great pit stop we moved up to P2, I was pushing to maintain the gap but the tyres began to really drop away and so came across the line in P4 – it was great to end on a high note with the team’s best result in VLN in 2017. Even though we just missed out on a podium, I’m really pleased with the result as we showed good pace and the potential to even challenge for a win. It was a big step forward for the team, everyone did a great job and that was reflected in the result.”