Podium on GT3 debut in the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring

Vote of confidence for sterling effort in the ADAC GT Masters: Jeffrey Schmidt was selected by his team to contest the third round of the VLN Endurance Championship. The Swiss 23-year-old and Michael Ammermüller of Germany shared the cockpit of the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport entry in the third round of the 2017 VLN. Schmidt repaid the team for the faith they had shown in him by securing an impressive podium on his GT3 debut at the track which Jackie Stewart famously called the Green Hell.

For much of the race, it looked as if the number 28 Audi R8 LMS might be on course for a P2 finish. However, a technical problem on the final refuelling cost the team a lot of time. In an impressive final sprint, Schmidt caught up with the third-placed Renault R.S.01, but there was insufficient time left to make the decisive pass. Fortunately for Schmidt and his team, the third-placed car was subsequently handed a time penalty, which meant that the Montaplast duo found themselves making a podium appearance after all.

Jeffrey, a podium in your first GT3 race at the Nürburgring. Congratulations!
Many thanks. This is a fantastic result, and I’m very happy to have helped the team to a further podium after their victory in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. Montaplast by Land-Motorsport put their faith in me with this selection for the third VLN race, and I’m very grateful. It’s a great feeling to be standing on the podium after such a gruelling race on my favourite circuit.

How did the race go from your perspective?
Michael and I drove an immaculate, error-free race. My stint was a lot of fun. Obviously, it’s a disappointment not to be on the top rung of the podium. After all, that was our stated objective. But after my team took the victory in the 24-hour race, the Balance of Performance was adjusted, which did not help us. That’s why we stood no chance in this race against the Ferrari and the Porsche which significantly benefited from the change in the BoP.

Despite that handicap, though, you were in fantastic form and for much of the race were even up to second place.
We were aiming to stay in close touch with the leaders right from the start. We intended to take advantage of the stage at which we caught up with first lapped vehicles to slip past our opponents. The plan worked well, and we overtook the second-placed car. We easily maintained that position up to the closing stages of the race. The car felt great, and I also coped well with the new tyres.

The runner-up spot looked assured until your final pit stop for refuelling, but it wasn’t to be. What happened there?
The pit stop itself went smoothly, but when I was ready to leave, the engine wouldn’t start. Because of this technical issue, the emergency procedure was activated. We lost a lot of time as a result. That ultimately cost us what would otherwise certainly have been second place. I emerged onto the track in fourth position and once again gave it everything I’d got. Until shortly before the end of the race, I was in striking distance of third place. Because of a time penalty against our opponents, we fortunately won the well-deserved podium after all. In the circumstances, it was the maximum we were going to get. My thanks go to the team and to my good friend Michael for the great job they did over the whole weekend. I hope to return to the Nordschleife very soon.