Tuesday, 7 September 2010

Women in the VLN

The VLN (Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring) is an endurance racing championship based on the legendary Nordschleife of the Nürburgring circuit in Germany. It has existed since 1977 and is open to touring and sports cars, with classes for everything from production models to sports prototypes.

The Nürburgring 24 Hour race was formerly part of the VLN, but is not any more. Despite this, many of the same cars and drivers enter both. Both are covered by this post.

The VLN has attracted a large number of female drivers and has even had two female champions: Sabine Schmitz (1998) and Claudia Hürtgen (2005).

Below are some profiles of other participants.

Petra Baecker – raced in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2014. She was driving a BMW 325i for the NexD e.K. team, as part of a four-driver squad. They were 87th overall. This was at least her second attempt at the race, as she had driven a similar BMW in 2013. That year (2014), she also drove in the VLN for the team, with different co-drivers. In 2015, she drove in the 24 Hours again, for the Avia-BMW team. She and her team-mates were sixth in class. This was part of another VLN season.

Jutta Beisiegel - in 2006, 2007 and 2008, raced in the VLN championship at the Nürburgring, and in long-distance saloon races around her native Germany. In 2006 she drove a Renault Clio and a Honda Civic. From 2007, this was exchanged for a Ford Fiesta. She has won her class on several occasions and is often in the top three of it. She has finished the Nürburgring 24 Hours three times, with a best finish of third in class in 2007. Previously, she entered the Saxo, Clio and Fiesta one-make championships, usually winning the Coupe des Dames. She has also driven in German and international rallies, with a best result of sixth in Oman in 1993. In 2009, she once again competed in endurance racing in Germany, still in the Fiesta. This continued into 2010, although only for selected rounds, and Jutta was driving a BMW instead. In 2011, she drove the BMW again in the VLN, and some other German endurance events. She scored some top-three positions in class. In 2013, she competed in the TMG GT86 Cup, part of the VLN, and won it, with Alexander Kudrass. She returned to the championshi, part of the VLN, in 2014. She also spoke out against the sale of the Nürburgring. She was fourth overall in the GT86 Cup, alongside Pawel Ledwon. In 2015, she announced that she was leaving the VLN, due to her unhappiness with the way it was run. She does not appear to have raced since, and her website has been taken down.

Carola Esser-Feyen - circuit racer and rally co-driver from Germany. She has been competing in long-distance events at the Nürburgring for many seasons now, including at least three 24-hour races, once as part of an all-female team in a Honda Junior Team Honda Civic, in 2006. Her team-mates were Jutta Beisiegel, Nicole Mullenmeister and Petra Beyrer. They were 80th and seventh in their class. Previously, she drove a Honda Integra with Dirk Esser, Frank Thomas and Wilhelm Feyen in 2004. They were 149th. She did not finish in 2007, driving a Honda Civic for a different team. As a rally co-driver, she competes with a number of drivers around Germany.

Tatjana Hanser – races an Opel Astra in both the RCN and VLN series. In the VLN, she raced in the OPC class in 2015. One race ended in a red flag, but the other gave her a class ninth. 2015 was her second season of endurance racing, after a couple of years of karting and test driving. In 2014, she raced a BMW Z4 Coupe in the VLN for Adrenalin Racing, scoring a class fifth. She used an M3 in the RCN for two races, the best of these being a fourth in class. In 2016, she seems to have raced less, but did take part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, in the Cup 1 class. She was fifth in class. A crowdfunding inititative helped her to a seat in the 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours, in a Porsche Cayman GT4. She was 41st overall and fifth in class. She is hoping to move into sportscar racing, and aims for the Porsche Carrera Cup.

Nadja Hasenstab – raced on and off in the VLN between 1998 and 2003. In 2000, she was the highest-placed female driver in the championship. During this time, she took part in the Nürburgring 24 Hours twice. Her career began in one-makes, in the Citroen Saxo Cup, in 1997, and she returned to small saloons in 2000, in the Toyota Yaris Cup. In 2003, she was second in the Yaris women’s standings, and fifth in the Speed Women Cup, a championship for women racing in various categories in Germany. That year, she also raced a Peugeot 106 in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. 2003 seems to have been her last year of competition. There is a professional cyclist of the same name, who may be the same person.

Janine Hill – American driver racing mostly in Europe. In 2014, she was part of Frikadelli Racing’s second team, in a Porsche Cayman, with Antony Ashley. They raced in the VLN, and put in some good performances, although a crash in round 12, when Ashley was driving, was a low point. Janine and Antony also raced a BMW E46 in the Zolder 24 Hours, for Team J2, with John Shoffner and Domenico Solombrino. They did not finish. In 2015, Janine raced a Mazda Miata in the USA, as well as one of the satellite Frikadelli cars in the VLN. She drove a Renault Clio in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, and was 93rd overall, as part of a four-driver team. She also drove the Frikadelli Porsche Cayman. In 2016, she continued as a Frikadelli driver, sharing a Porsche 997 in the Cup 2 class with John Shoffner. She raced in the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Shoffner again in 2017, along with Arno Klaasen and Duncan Huisman. They were 32nd overall in a Porsche 991. In the VLN, she earned seven podium finishes in the same car. 

Iris Hoffman - drives in long-distance races in Germany, usually at the Nürburgring. Her team, which she runs herself, often includes her husband, Kornelius Hoffmann. In 2003, Iris achieved six class wins in the VLN series. She has driven in the Nürburgring 24 Hours on many occasions, driving a Suzuki Swift, Honda CRX, Citroen AX and BMW M3. These drives gave her several good positions in the small car classes. The team has also competed in the Castrol-Haugg Cup, held at the Nürburgring.

Traudl Klink - head of TKS Motorsport in Germany. She normally drives in long-distance touring car races, such as the VLN at the Nürburgring and the Dubai 24 Hours. She has had class success in the VLN, German Touring Cup (DTC) and the Ford Fiesta and Renault Clio one-make series. Her cars have included BMW M3s and VW Golfs. Her first victory came in the 1985 Ford Fiesta Ladies’ Cup and she used Ford power effectively for the next five years, scoring a number of class podiums in the VLN and DTC. However, her best performance was an overall VLN win in 1996, driving a BMW M3. After 1999, she concentrated on the Renault Clio Cup and the Nürburgring 24 Hours, as well as running her team.

Katharina (Kathi) König - German one-make and long-distance specialist. She often drives a Mini and secured podium finishes in the German Mini Challenge in 2004, 2005 and 2007. She competed in the VLN, with some class success, in 2006. Her regular team-mate was Kati Droste and their car was a Seat Leon Supercopa. They scored one class second. At that year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours, they were 62nd and third in class, assisted by Christina Surer and Catharina Felser. Previously, in 2002 and 2003, Kathi raced an Alfa Romeo 147 in a one-make series. She began racing in 2001. Now, she seems to concentrate on test driving and media work.

Nicole Lüttecke - competes mainly in the VLN Trophy at the Nürburgring, and has scored class wins there. She also raced in the Porsche Cup and one-make saloon championships, as well as enduro events, as part of the works Mazda team. This included the 2005 Nürburgring and 2006 Dubai 24-hour races, with Cathi Felser, Kati Droste and Steffi Halm. They were 55th and fourth in class at the ‘Ring. Nicole was ninth in class at the 2008 Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a Nissan 350Z, on her seventh attempt at the race. This car was her chosen vehicle for VLN events in 2007 and 2008. Her co-driver was Kurt Thiim. In 2009, she competed in the Nürburgring 24 Hours with Adam Osieka, Manuel Lauck and Fredy Barth, but did not finish. Their car was an Aston Martin Vantage N24. Away from the Nürburgring, she has raced Porsches, a Beetle, a VW Polo and a Caterham, as well as rallying a Mitsubishi Carisma. She made a comeback in motorsport in 2011, with a guest spot in the VW Polo Cup. She was also in action in the 2013 VLN, driving an Opel Astra. Since then, she has concentrated on instructing.

Stefanie Manns - took part in several long-distance races in 2007, including the Nürburgring 24 Hours, VLN Trophy events and the Dubai 24 Hours, in which she was second in class A1 in a Ford Fiesta. She was driving alongside Marcel Leipert, Joe Schmidtler, Igor Skuz and Vitaliy Bilotserkivskyy. Her team-mates in Germany, where she achieved similar results, a third in class, were Jutta Beisiegel and Jana Meiswinkel. She also drove the Fiesta in some other VLN events, with strong class finishes. Previously, she has raced in Formula Ford and the German Ford Puma Cup. Her 2007 efforts came after a lay-off of six years. In 2011, she turned to rally raids, contesting the Dakar and the Silk Way Rally in a Lennson buggy. She drove in the Dakar again in 2012, in a McRae buggy, and the Silk Way in the Lennson.  She used the McRae again in 2013, but did not compete in 2014, due to a back injury.

Jana Meiswinkel - former champion karter in Germany. She moved into senior racing in 2004, running in the Toyota Yaris Cup for two seasons. After that, she focused on endurance events, initially at the Nürburgring, in the form of the Castrol Haugg Cup and the VLN. She used a Ford Puma in 2006 and for some 2007 races, before switching to a Fiesta. Her team-mate that year was Jutta Beisiegel. They scored one class win and several podium places, including one in the 24 Hour race. She continued in the VLN in 2008 in the Fiesta, as well as entering the Dubai 24 Hours in the same car. Jana, Jutta and Stefanie Manns were 43rd. The two drivers and the Fiesta returned to the VLN in 2009 as the “Frauenpower” team. Sadly, their car was destroyed in a crash part-way through the season. Jana returned in 2010 in another Fiesta, driving with Ernst Berg. They were second in class SP2, 84th overall and sixth junior team, and Jana was the Ladies' champion. Her car in 2011 was a Renault Clio. She was fifth in the VLN's Renault Speed Trophy, with a best finish of third, 43rd overall, and second-fastest lady. Her season was similar in 2012, with two fourths in the CUP3 class, one third in the overall Renault Speed Trophy, and two wins in her Trophy class. Using a different Clio, she took part in the Rundstrecken Challenge at the Nürburgring, earning two second places in her class. She was set to drive a Clio in 2014, but does not appear to have raced. She made a comeback in 2017, and did some testing in a Clio.

Friederike Moritz – German driver from a motorsport family. She is named as a crew member in the Max Moritz racing team in 2000. In 2001, she raced a Porsche in some historic events in Germany. In 2002, she raced in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a Porsche 996, with Wolf Silvester, Thomas Dill and Rainer Bitzer. They were seventh in class. After that, she made various appearances in the VLN, including a run in the 2004 Ruhr-Pokal in a Honda Civic Type R, as part of an all-female team with Anja Wassertheurer and Gaby Roosen. Between these two appearances, she raced a Porsche in GT-P events. In 2003, she made some guest appearances in joint GT/STT meetings, finishing in the top ten twice, with Wolf Silvester. Much later, in 2007, she made another attempt at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a Honda Civic with Anja Wassertheurer and Daniela Schmid. They did not finish, due to an accident.

Nicole Müllenmeister - races touring cars in Germany. She has taken part in several 24-hour races at the Nürburgring, with a best finish of 34th in 2006, although she won her class in 2007, coming 35th. Her 2007 car was a Honda Civic, run by the Honda Junior team. Previously, she raced in the Ford Fiesta ST Cup around Germany. Like many German racers, she has contested the VLN Trophy on more than one occasion. In 2006, she managed two class wins, in the Fiesta and an Opel Corsa. For some of the other races, she was in a Civic, partnered by Petra Beyrer. That year, she drove in Division 1 of ADAC Procar as well, in an Opel Astra, for a few races. She returned to her one-make roots in the SEAT Leon Supercopa in 2008. She was 17th overall after a truncated season. In 2009, she returned to the Nürburgring for the 24 Hours, driving a Honda Civic Type-R with Anja Wassertheurer, Daniela Schmid and Stefan Schlesack. They were 108th. She took part in the 24 Hours again in 2010, driving a SEAT Leon Supercopa, but did not finish. She also entered some VLN rounds, managing a few points finishes. In 2011, she drove in some races of the SEAT Leon Supercopa. In 2012, she drove in most of the VLN, using an Opel Astra. Her team-mates were Heinz-Otto and Jurgen Fritzsche. In 2013, she drove for the Camp David team, in an Opel Astra. Their best result was 71st, in the 250-Mile race.

Sabine Podzus – began racing in 2009, driving a BMW 318 in the RCN and scoring seven class wins. She continued through 2010 and 2011, picking up more class victories in the series, and participating in at least one Nürburgring 24 Hour race. In 2012, she moved into the VLN, and was third in her first race. Another season in the RCN followed in 2013, driving an Audi TT for the Pro-Handicap team with Jutta Kleinschmidt. She managed at least one class win. She continued to race the Audi for the team in 2014 and 2015, sometimes partnering Jutta Kleinschmidt. Prior to her four-wheeled activities, she raced motorcycles, with some success.

Claudia Pulver – Swiss driver who has been racing in the VLN since at least 2005, usually in a BMW E30 or 318. In 2014, she won her class in the Barbossapreis, driving a 318 with Fabian Sigwart, her usual team-mate since at least 2012. Previously, she drove with Mark Benz. Earlier, in 2008, she won her class outright in the championship. In 2013, she and Fabian Sigwart also took part in the RCN series.

Gaby Roosen - winner of many class awards and titles in German saloon racing, especially in the VLN Trophy. She won her class in the 2005 Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a BMW 325i to 32nd overall. In the 2001 VLN, she was the champion in the alternative fuel class, in a VW Golf. Volkswagen was her preferred marque between 1998 and 2004, although she also drove a BMW in 2001 and 2002. During this time, she scored many class podium finishes in the VLN. Her career began in Ford Fiesta one-make series in Germany and Eastern Europe, where she won the mixed team title. She retired after the 2007 season.

Eve Scheer - mainly Alfa Romeo driver from Germany. Her first races were in 2002, driving in the Alfa Romeo 147 Cup. She was a regular in VLN races at the Nürburgring between 2003 and 2005, using a Peugeot 306 in 2003 and Alfa Romeo models after that. In 2005, she was a guest driver for the works Alfa team in their GT Coupe. As well as the VLN and Alfa Romeo 147 series, she has taken part in one-make championships for the Mini, in addition to a German production car championship in 2005. This gave her her best finish: two second places at Hockenheim, at the wheel of a diesel Alfa 147. In 2006, she switched allegiances and did a season in the Porsche Cup. Later, in 2010, she entered some rounds of the Volkswagen Scirocco R Cup in Germany, and was twelfth in the championship, after a best finish of eighth. Her second season in Sciroccos gave her 19th overall, with a best finish of ninth. She now races historics. Her "day job" is being a TV actress.

Daniela Schmid - Austrian driver and team owner active in the VLN. She began racing in 2006, after years of karting, and won the Divinol Ladies’ trophy in her first year, driving an Alfa Romeo 147 Cup. In 2007, she and her team entered the Honda Civic Cup of the VLN, and were rewarded with ninth place. Daniela, Friederike Moritz and Anja Wassertheurer retired from the Nürburgring 24 Hours. The following year, Daniela improved her Civic Cup result to eighth, and was tenth in the Junior standings. Her best finish was fourth. The 24 Hours ended in an accident again. 2009 continued in the same vein: the Civic Cup. Daniela visited the podium this year and finished in the top five of the Civic standings. She also recorded her first 24-Hour finish, a class seventh after overnight problems. In 2010, she switched to a Ford Focus RS for the VLN, and won the SP4T class championship after five class wins. In the 24 Hours, Daniela, Anja Wassertheurer and Stefan Schlesack joined up with rally driver Jari-Matti Latvala. They were fifth in class. She carried on using this car in 2011, winning a second SP4T championship with six class wins. She was seventh in class in the 24 Hour race. In 2012, she remained active in the VLN, driving an Audi TT run by the FH Koln Motorsport team. They scored several good finishes in class. She carried on in 2013, driving an Opel Astra this time. Her team-mate was Maximilian Hacklaender and they were 45th in the championship. They also managed some top-three positions in class. She drove two different cars in the VLN in 2014: an Audi TT, and an Opel Astra. She scored one class win in the Audi, and was ninth overall in the championship, the best female driver that year. In the 24 Hours, she drove in both cars, and was class runner-up in both. She was 21st and 55th overall, with the Audi as the faster car. She also took part in the Dubai 24 Hours, and was sixth overall in a BMW Z4, driving with Claudia Hürtgen. In 2015, she was the highest-placed female driver in the VLN, placing tenth overall. She was racing an Audi TT for the LMS Engineering team, in the SP3T class. She drove a BMW Z4 again in 2016, and was fifth in the SP9 class, after a series of non-finishes. She won her class in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in 2017, driving an Audi TT with Ulli Andree, Christian Schmitz and Stefan Weininger. They were 24th overall. Daniela is a test driver for Alpina.

Susanne Schmitz - competed in the VLN in the 1980s and 1990s. She raced in at least three editions of the Nürburgring 24 Hours between 1987 and 1990. In 1987 and 1988, she drove two different BMWs, with different team-mates, and in 1990, she drove a Ford Fiesta XR2, with her sister, Sabine Schmitz. She is described as having raced alongside Sabine and her other sister, Petra, on different occasions, at the Nürburgring. Further details about her career, and her race results, have proved hard to find.

Ingrid Steger - active in the VLN and in German saloon racing in the 1980s and 1990s. She competed in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in an Opel Kadett in 1987 and 1988, with different team-mates each time. In 1990, she returned, in a Ford Fiesta XR2i, with Claudia Hürtgen, Dirk Ehlebracht and Michael Schmölders. The results for these races are not forthcoming. In 1991, she participated in the Ford Fiesta Mixed Cup with Torsten Martick, but they were not among the front-runners. She may have raced in the series in 1992, but entry lists are proving very elusive.

Lena Strycek - races in the VLN and won the V2T class of the 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving an Opel Astra. She was racing with her family team and it was her second attempt at the race. In 2015, she contested the Opel Astra OPC Cup in the same car. She was twelfth overall. In 2018, she returned to the VLN and qualified for the Nürburgring 24 Hours in a GT4 KTM X-Bow. This was as part of a four woman team of Lena, Naomi Schiff, Rahel Frey and Laura Kraihamer.

Maike Suhr - combines racing and rallying. She started out on the track in 2002, with one race in Austrian Formel Master. She spent a year in the German VLN Trophy in 2003, driving a Suzuki Ignis, with one class third, before changing to rallying in a Citroen Saxo. She used this car in the 2004 ADAC Rallye Junior Cup. She spent another year in the VLN in 2005, as well as the Toyota Yaris and Fun Cups. The Fun Cup gave her her best result—fifth overall, and second German driver. Again, she returned to rallying in an Ignis in 2006. She entered the Monte Carlo Rally and the German Suzuki Rallye Cup, in Germany. As well as tarmac events, she also found time for some more racing, in the shape of the Fun Cup and a run in the Nürburgring 24 Hours in the Ignis. Maike does not appear to have competed since 2006.

Christina Surer - German saloon racer and karter. She has raced in one-make series for the SEAT Leon, Alfa 147, Mini and Fiesta. Since 2004, her main championship has been the SEAT Leon Supercopa. In addition to this, she has driven four Nürburgring 24 Hour races and two VLN championships, using different cars each time and scoring good results in class. Her best overall finish was 33rd, in 2004, driving an Audi A3. In 2007 and 2008 she stuck with the SEAT Supercopa, after using the car in 2006 for a part-season and a run in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Her team-mates were Cathi Felser, Kati Droste and Kathi Konig. They were 62nd and third in class. In 2008, she also drove in the Mercedes SLR Club Trophy, in a 722 GT. She returned to the Supercopa in 2009, continuing to make guest appearances each year. In 2011, her best finish was sixth.

Sarah Toniutti – Swiss driver who competes in endurance racing. She got behind the wheel herself in 2014, after nine years as a mechanic for other drivers. Her 2014 activities were based around the Nürburgring, both in the VLN and the RCN. In the VLN, she shared a BMW M3 with Chantal and Martin Kroll, joining the championship mid-season. Their best result was a class third, in their first race, a six-hour enduro. Later in the year, Sarah won an RCN race. Away from the Nürburgring, she did her first 24-hour event, in Barcelona, with Chantal Kroll and three team-mates. They were seventh in class, and 35th overall. In January 2015, she went one better, winning class A5 in the Dubai 24 Hours, with Chantal Kroll, Martin Kroll, Hal Prewitt and Bernd Küpper. They were 34th overall. She stayed in the 24-Hour Series, and drove a Renault Clio in the Barcelona event, with the Presenza team. They were 45th overall. In the same car, for the same team, she was 28th in the Paul Ricard race. She won her class in the 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours, driving a Renault Clio for Stanco&Tanner Motorsport. She and her team-mates were 96th overall. 

Anja Wassertheurer - competitor in the VLN since at least 2006. Initially, she drove a Honda Civic. In 2007, she teamed up with Daniela Schmid and Friederike Moritz, still using a Civic. They were ninth in the Honda Civic Cup, but did not finish the 24-Hours. The same team went out of the 24-Hours again in 2008, but were eighth in their class for the VLN proper. In 2009, she recorded her first finish, driving a Civic Type-R with Daniela Schmid, Nicole Müllenmeister and Stefan Schlesack. They were 108th, sixth in class. There was another change of team-mate in 2010, when rally driver Jari-Matti Latvala took the place of Nicole Müllenmeister. Their car was a Ford Focus RS prepared by students. They were 117th after engine trouble. Anja and Daniela also scored five class wins in the VLN. In 2011, Anja drove a MINI in the 24 Hours, and was eleventh in class SP3T. She also drove an Aston Martin in the GT4 Challenge, based in the UK. She and Jethro Bovingdon scored some top-three positions in their class. In 2012, she was reunited with Daniela Schmid in the VLN. They drove an Audi TT run by the FH Koln Motorsport team, scoring several good finishes in class. She works in press and PR for Porsche, having held a similar role at Daimler.

Tanja Wegeler - German long-distance specialist. She normally races a BMW M3, sometimes with her husband Nicki. She competed in the Nürburgring 24 Hour race in 2004 and 2005, finishing 33rd in 2005. Her team-mates were Nicki, Daniel Zils and Benjamin Weidner. They were second in class. In 2004, they did not do as well, but managed to take four class wins in the VLN series as a consolation. They have also entered club events in the BMW and scored class wins.

Ingrid Wirtgen – raced in the VLN in the 1990s. She seems to have done the full season in 1998, driving a Peugeot 106 and a VW Polo, both for the Auto Häckel team. In 1999, she returned to the championship, driving the Peugeot. During her time in the championship, she scored six class wins. She also competed in the Nürburgring 24 Hours.

(Image from http://oppositelock.jalopnik.com/)

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