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Dominik Baumann - Instructor at Scuderia Hanseat

Top-ten finish in VLN2: Dominik Baumann well prepared for 24-hours at Nürburgring

While snow threatened the season-opener of the VLN endurance championship at the Nürburgring Nordschleife and it looked at one stage like it might have to be cancelled, sun and warm temperatures greeted Dominik Baumann and his Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER for Saturday’s second race. The three drivers, Baumann, DTM star Edoardo Mortara and Indy Dontje, qualified in ninth place for the 43rd DMV 4-hour race, just one grid place behind the eventual race winners. Their Mercedes-AMG GT3 with start number #47 crossed the finish line in ninth position.

The field for the second VLN race of the season was once again very full with over 180 cars representing various classes. The huge number of different classes participating makes these VLN races especially challenging – you always have to keep an eye out for the slower cars while fighting for position in your own class.

Despite showing a cracking pace – Baumann’s #47 Mercedes-AMG GT3 was among the quickest as regards the fastest race lap – the three of them were a bit unlucky this time. In an action-packed race across all classes, a series of yellow and Code60 periods put a dampener on the efforts of the Austrian and his team-mates to secure a top-class finish. Baumann ultimately crossed the line in P9.

Qualifying for the 24-hours at the Nürburgring (14th – 15th April) is next up before Baumann heads off to mid-Ohio for the third IMSA meeting of the season (4th – 6th May).

Dominik, after your strong showing with fifth place in the season-opener, are you nevertheless satisfied with P9?
You want to finish every race up front, of course, and it eats away at you if you don’t finish on the podium in the end. Things simply didn’t work out for us today. Edoardo, Indy and I, we all put in first-rate stints throughout. The Mercedes-AMG GT3 was absolutely flawless and the team did a great job. We tried out one or two things on the car that will certainly benefit us in the 24-hour race. We’re heading in the right direction with development even if it wasn’t quite enough for a top-class finish this time around. Still, we’re not too dissatisfied as we head home from the Nordschleife.

Snow for the opening round, spring-like temperatures for the second race, did you have to totally re-work setup?
Basic setup was similar to what we used for the first round, but of course, conditions were completely different then. It was much warmer this weekend than it had been for the season-opener, which is another reason why we had other tyre compounds on hand. Basically, there were more really hard-fought scraps out on track. You can easily lose 20 seconds over a lap in the VLN, even if your pace is first-rate. And then, there are the yellow-flag periods, the back-markers to pass and other things that happen and suddenly, you’ve got a big deficit.

Posting a clean lap in the VLN is a bit of a lottery…
Definitely! You can be really lucky and come into the pits to swap drivers just before a yellow flag period, which gives you a tremendous advantage over the competition. But you often find that you’ve just driven past the pits when suddenly, out come the yellow flags. It’s simply impossible to predict in the VLN with its large number of entrants – you just have to be on the throttle the whole time and hope that the other variables will come good for you. Things didn’t go so well for us this time, but the pace was there and that’s what counts as far as we’re concerned.

How did your double stint go?
I was the last to take the wheel. As far as pace goes, I was very quick, just like Edoardo and Indy, but the gap on the drivers in front was too big. There was plenty of action, but not in our class. Of course, you always have to be careful when overtaking back-markers, and there were a lot of yellow and Code60 periods, so we used the time sensibly to get really well prepared for the 24-hour race. We’ve already secured a place among the top-thirty qualifiers following the first race, so as far as we’re concerned, next weekend’s qualifying race is our final rehearsal.

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