South African Bentley driver Jordan Pepper was delighted with progress following his second Nurburgring VLN series 4-hour race on the notorious 21km Nordscheife on Saturday.
Pepper, sharing his yellow Abt Bentley Continental GT3 with German driver Christian Mamerow and Belgian Nico Verdonck, ended fourth following a strong run that saw the trio leading the race and dicing up front for most of the race as part of their preparations for the 24-hour race at the circuit next month.
“Overall it was a very good day,” Jordan reported. “Qualifying went well even though we could have been a little further up the grid – it’s always an issue when you catch traffic in the wrong places, but with 180 cars trying to qualify, sometimes that happens. “Still, we knew we had a strong car for the race.
“Early in the race, Nico kept within sight of the leader and made up a few places and then with some good pit stop strategy and with Christian in the car, we managed to get the gap down and eventually got into the lead. “We wanted to see what our ultimate performance could be, but I think some of the others were playing a Balance of Performance game, so it was a game of cat and mouse.”
Balance of Performance is a system of adjusting weight and other aspects of a car used to equalise the performance of different cars racing in GT3 in the interests of closest racing.
“I found myself in third after I took over and quickly managed to deal with the Mercedes for second – I felt really good and got into a good rhythm, but I was caught out by a code 60 (a safety measure when a sector of the track is limited to 60km/h to allow track marshals to deal with incidents) and the Manthey Porsche opened a bit of a gap. “After that I went for it and closed the gap down again.
“I was very happy in the car today – I think I have found a really good rhythm, I was able to push at a good speed, so the plan of getting me ready for the 24- Hour is working really well – I’m starting to get really comfortable in the car and with good speed too.
“In the end, the final pit stop strategy never worked in our favour – the Audis managed their fuel distance better and jumped us in the pits, but we were very happy with fourth overall – it was a great achievement. “It was also really good to run up front for so long and run with the winning Manthey Porsche and the works Mercedes.
“We still have a bit to do but we made big steps this weekend – I am really happy with the progress!”
Jordan’s next Nurburgring appointment is the 6-Hour in two weeks time, in preparation for the 24-Hour 27-28 May.