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Opening Victory for Heiko Hammel and Reinhard Nehls at Hockenheimring

At the season opener of the DMV NES 500 at the Hockenheimring, Heiko Hammel and Reinhard Nehls took overall victory with their Opel Astra TCR. The Opel duo prevailed against van den Munckhof/Barten (KK BMW M2 GTR) and Henriksen/Vodder (Audi RS3 LMS TCR).

For Heiko Hammel and Reinhard Nehls, the victory at the Hockenheimring ended a long dry spell. Last year, the duo was mostly fast, but technical problems often threw the TCR Astra out of the race. At the start of the season, the two Opel drivers finally achieved another success. For Hammel and Nehls it was the second overall victory in the DMV NES 500, although a bit surprising. For a long time, Arpad Viszokay, Leon Unger and Gabriele Piana dominated the race. The trio pulled away early, only losing the lead after pit stops. When Piana turned into the pit lane for the fourth time shortly after the last mandatory stop, the advantage melted away. The M4 pitted for more than five minutes before the error was corrected. The engine ignition had caused problems. "That's just how racing is," Piana said tersely. Heiko Hammel and Reinhard Nehls took the lead on lap 67, which they did not give up in the remaining 20 laps. In the end, the advantage to second place was over 39 seconds.

It was difficult, typical Hockenheim weather. Despite radar, you couldn't be sure what it would be like. Only shortly before the start we changed our mind from rain tyres to slicks. The first few laps were tricky, but it was definitely the right decision. Now in the last stint there was always more or less rain on the windscreen. But it was still drivable with slicks. But much more rain should not have come," reported Heiko Hammel. Teammate Reinhard Nehls also did his job confidently. With the key to victory. ": Today was a team win from start to finish. Everyone worked together perfectly. Heiko is a great buddy and one of the drivers, just a great guy. The car was just great today. We're really happy with the victory," said the veteran happily.

Behind it, someone who actually did not have the best starting position was really picking up. Eric van den Munckhof and Mike Barten only finished sixth in qualifying, losing two more positions on the opening lap. The front field was close together at Hockenheim. As a result, six cars were within one second after qualifying. The two Dutchmen were stuck between seventh and eighth position at the beginning after making the wrong choice with rain tyres. Thus, the duo stopped already in 16. Round. . And from then on, things got better and better. Bit by bit it went forward. On lap 72, the pair grabbed the Audi RS3 LMS TCR of Jesper Henriksen and Frederik Vodder. . The two Danes could no longer keep up with the fast pace and lost almost 50 seconds. . "We just drove well today and the car also did a good job. The start with rain tyres was not so good. After half an hour we changed. We set good lap times and it went without problems for us. The Hungarian team in front of us had problems and that was our luck to win our class. Otherwise we would have finished second. But it was a very nice race," reported van den Munckhof. Especially since there were important points for the victory in the NES 9.

Tight distances on the pitches Just behind the third-placed Audi duo, Michael Luther, Markus Schmickler and Jan Kortüm finished fourth at the premiere of the brand-new BMW M4 GT4. Not much had been missing on Henriksen/Vodder, but they held against it with about the same lap times in the end. Also in the same lap as the overall winners were Daniel Schwerfeld and Heinz-Otto Blank, who won the NES 8 in the Porsche Cayman of Smyrlis Racing. . Especially at the beginning, Schwerfeld burned off fireworks and defended the second overall position against Hammel until the first stop. But since Blank could not keep up the pace of his experienced teammate and on top of that it hailed 20 extra seconds for exceeding the track limits, the duo could be extremely satisfied with fifth place overall. Behind them, Viszokay/Unger/Piana finished sixth overall ahead of Becker/Schmickler (Porsche Cayman GT4). Becker/Schmickler would also have been able to do more at the Cayman premiere without an additional fourth pit stop. This also applies to Armando and Mario Stanco, who are also fighting for the top positions with their Audi RS3 LMS TCR. However, technical problems threw the Audi, which was temporarily in second place, out of the race.

Premiere and class victory for Heidrich/Volmer

Class wins were actually routine for Martin Heidrich and Dirk Volmer. Volmer is even the undisputed class winner king in the history of the DMV NES 500. So far, both have mainly competed in the NES 3. This year, with a BMW M135 GTR they switched to the NES 6. On the sixth place overall, it even went up to the top 10. One lap behind, Tom Alpiger, Dennis Leissing and Remo Huonder (BMW M235i) saw the black and white checkered flag. The trio confidently decided the NES 5 for themselves because with Ohlsson/Ladurner (VW Scirocco) and Ganser/Heimbach (Seat Leon Cup) two possible contenders for victory had left the race early. Maximilian Eisberg and Jonas Spölgen, who started as soloists in the NES 4, drove a strong race. With their Opel Astra OPC, the duo was clearly on course for the top 10 when the Astra suddenly rolled out at the end of the start and finish. The two Opel drivers finished fourteenth overall.

A Trio was happy about the victory in the NES 3, which was also relatively clear with a four-lap advantage. Obermann/Blum/Bock/Rosam (BMW 325iS E90) prevailed against Capliuk/Olbrisch/Schäfer/Kahler (BMW 325iS E36). Igor Rodella, who this time sat alone at the wheel of the Suzuki Swift, left no doubt about his victory in the NES 1-2. The Swiss rider won the BMW 318ti Cup ahead of Hermann/Hermann/Hermann. "The race was marked by various retirements, which allowed us to achieve a good midfield position in the overall standings. The success at the Hockenheimring once again confirmed our strategy. Another big part of the victory goes to our team boss Andreas Saner. He decided at the last second before the race," reported Rodella.

The next race of DMV NES 500 takes place from 29.-30. April in Zolder.

Photos & Text: arp Redaktionsbüro Patrick Holzer



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