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For most, sim­ply lap­ping the in­fa­mous Nur­bur­gring is enough of a chal­lenge.

With a stag­ger­ing 170 cor­ners when the Nord­schleife and Grand Prix cir­cuits are com­bined, it takes count­less hours just to mem­o­rise which way the 16-mile lap snakes next, let alone to mas­ter it.

Then throw into the mix an­other 160 cars across 30 classes fight­ing for the same as­phalt, and repeat it for nine en­durance races over a sea­son. For its odd­ball bril­liance, theVLN–Ve ran st al­ter ge me ins cha ft Lang st rec ken pokalN ur bur g ring–is a de­light­fully com­pelling ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I think the races are so spe­cial be­cause the cir­cuit is unique, it’s huge and dan­ger­ous,” says Bradley Philpot, who shares a Peu­geot 308 Cup car in the VLN. “It’s got ex­treme el­e­va­tion change and ev­ery type of cor­ner you can imag­ine, as well as decades and decades of his­tory, mys­tique and beauty.”

Such is the chal­lenge and pres­tige of just fin­ish­ing a race, run­ning out of fuel wasn’t go­ing to stop Michael Schrey from cross­ing the line in the open­ing VLN race of 2018. Within sight of the che­quered flag, he pushed his BMW 235i across the line be­fore col­laps­ing onto the grass.

It’s also why the VLN is ex­ploited by Nur­bur­gring 24 Hours en­trants as a test­ing ground, bring­ing to the se­ries such names as Le Mans winners Nick Tandy, Earl Bam­ber, Romain Du­mas and Mar­cel Fassler, and Ma­cau GT Cup winners Maro En­gel and Lau­rens Vanthoor.

But while the names are a healthy ad­di­tion to the VLN, it doesn’t rely on them to at­tract fans. The top class, which is made up pri­mar­ily of GT3 cars, of­fers Fer­raris, Mercedes, Porsches, Audis and BMWS. It’s a tight field that is im­pos­si­ble to pre­dict, even in the dy­ing stages of a race.

At the most re­cent event, VLN 3, the racewin­ning Porsche 911 GT3-R, driven by Felipe Fer­nan­dez Laser and Lance David Arnold, pro­vided a win for the lo­cal Frikadelli

Rac­ing Team. It rose from 11th on the grid, hav­ing only just been put back to­gether mo­ments be­fore the race be­gan af­ter Fer­nan­dez Laser had crashed in qual­i­fy­ing.


Fur­ther down in the or­der, the sheer num­ber of classes paves the way for di­ver­sity. The front-wheel-drive SEAT

Cupra and Audi RS3 TCR cars are able to match the pace of the mid-engine Porsche Cay­man GT4S. Pre­mium mod­els such as Aston Martin’s Van­tage share track space with Lam­borgh­ini Hu­ra­cans and Fer­rari

488s. It fil­ters right down to Re­nault Clios, Volk­swa­gen Golfs and the count­less 235s. All dif­fer­ent mod­els, all crammed to­gether, more di­verse than any other en­durance se­ries.

And to en­joy the ex­pe­ri­ence, the en­try price is just €15 for full pad­dock and pit­lane ac­cess, a grand­stand seat and a grid walk. That amaz­ing value for money draws in a crowd. But it can be cheaper still. Be­cause view­ing spots sit right by perime­ter car parks and main roads, there are places to watch for no cost at all.

The land­scape at Brei­d­scheid, Ade­nauer Forst, Hohe Acht, Brun­nchen and

Gal­genkopf are, in par­tic­u­lar, easy to get around and of­fer spec­tac­u­lar view­ing.

All the while, the cir­cuit re­mains the star of the show. That in it­self is enough of an at­trac­tion to watch a new se­ries even be­fore you add in the wealth of cars and the spec­ta­cle of watch­ing the GT3 pack carve through lapped traf­fic.

“It’s not an­other race track, it’s the Nur­bur­gring,” Philpot says. “If you can mas­ter it, you gain a pres­tige that not every­body can or does have in mo­tor­sport. It’s the only place in the world that I drive where you feel a 3D sen­sa­tion from the cock­pit.

“All th­ese things add to­gether to cre­ate a big­ger air of im­por­tance than other se­ries that are com­pa­ra­ble with the VLN.”

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