Milltek Sport Team Take Class Victory In Tricky VLN5 To Strengthen Grip On Toyota Motorsports GT86 Cup
If there’s one thing that’s guaranteed when it comes to racing at the Nürburgring, it’s that there are no guarantees – save for unpredictable weather of course! Milltek Sport pitched up at the ring for the 5th time in 2017 and were greeted by driving rain and gusting winds, both of which ensured that Friday afternoon’s shakedown was nothing if not challenging. It was made even more so when their GT86’s new, post-N24 gearbox began to fail, and the troublesome transmission eventually threw in the towel after a handful of laps.
The aforementioned gremlins served to make a difficult session all the more trying, not least because the forced ‘box change drastically reduced the amount of running time available to the driving team of Dale Lomas, Lucian Garvis, Werner Gusenbauer and Tom Onslow Cole, though the extensive experience of all 4 ensured that it wasn’t a complete disaster, just an extreme frustration!
A frenetic night of gearbox ordering, shipping and spannering saw the Milltek Sport GT86 fire into life early on Saturday, just in time for the all-important qualifying session. More rain showers made their presence known through the majority of the session, and it became increasingly clear that any truly fast laps would have to be set in the dying minutes, so that’s precisely what the team did; Luke was able to put in a blistering lap to net a strong 2nd place. Indeed, it could well have been 1st (and a handy 2 extra points taken from the team’s chief rivals, Toyota Swiss Motorsport) had it not been for a yellow sector caused by a small incident.
The topsy-turvy nature of qualifying set the tone for the start of the race, with start of Group 2 marred by an incident between Getspeed and the Frikadelli Porsche in Group 1, a coming together which forced a number of Code 60 flags. Said flags proved problematic, so much so that many drivers (not including Luke we might add) opted to ignore them. Indeed, there were so many infringements that the race directors opted not to punish anyone, meaning the Milltek Sport driver was ultimately punished for sticking to the Code 60s!
It wasn’t just the Milltek Sport Toyota which was having a tough time of it though, the team’s closest competitors were all struggling, with the identical car of Toyota Swiss Motorsport even having a coming together with a Renault Clio early on in the 6-hour race. Their misfortune played into the Milltek squad’s hands and they were, thanks to the driving skills of Luke, able to battle up to P2 by the end of his stint. Tom Onslow Cole then completed a relatively uneventful stint on the drying track, followed by another, equally quiet one for Werner Gusenbauer, the latter conducted in drizzle.
Things were looking decidedly rosy by the halfway point thanks to the Milltek outfit’s clean driving, with Werner pounding round in an excellent 1st in class! A last minute (last second, actually) call to swap slicks for wets at the end of the German’s stint proved to be a crucial call, and one which would set the tone for the rest of the race. It also permitted Dale Lomas to head out onto the track on the perfect tyres, and the double stint which followed was precisely what the team needed – quiet, consistent wet weather lapping, just fast enough to fend off the hard-chasing opposition.
The final stint fell to Luke, who’s fast and flowing driving style was precisely what was needed to see the Milltek Sport GT86 home in first place, a full 6 minutes ahead of, you guessed it, the Swiss Toyota!
The team’s overall victory leaves them with a 14-point lead going into VLN 6 in two weeks’ time, though the need to drop a score means that the cushion is actually a mere 6 points, which in turn ensures that there’s still everything to play for.