Over the weekend Rebecca was due to drive in the VLN six-hour race, which would qualify her for the Nurburgring 24h at the end of May. You can read about the qualification process here.
Rebecca got her permit B through online e-learning, a classroom session at the Nurburgring and eight laps on track. She spent some time behind an instructor before being let out on her own with intervention cars and instructor vehicles checking what she was doing the whole way round the Nordschleife.
Image by Jochen of Frozenspeed Motorsport Photography
During this test they’re looking for pace, awareness of other cars, safety on track and flag knowledge. For example, they waved double yellow flags while Rebecca was driving to check she reacted appropriately.
Rebecca’s consistency, pace and ability to keep safe on track meant she passed each portion of the test and walked away with her permit B. This allows her to drive in the VLN, including the six-hour race that would qualify her for the 24-hour.
During the Saturday, Rebecca and her two team mates qualified their BMW M235i third in class, a great achievement around such a challenging track.
Rebecca said: “The Nurburgring attracts a very high standard of drivers so to qualify third in our class was fantastic for the team.”
In the second qualification session, which took place on the Sunday, the team placed the BMW in P4. It was then onto the race with Chris Mealin out first.
The conditions were very changeable going from dry to hail stones to rain and back again very quickly. Because the Nordschleife is so big, there can be beautiful sunshine at one end and torrential rain the other. This is made especially tricky by the fact that the parts of the track in shade take a long time to dry.
Chris started really well, overtaking a number of cars. Then it started raining and he came in for a tyre change to wets. Once the track dried out, it was back to slick tyres. Chris then came into the pits a third time with a fuel issue. This meant the team had dropped down to seventh in class.
In hindsight this might have been an opportunity for a driver change but Chris went out again to try and regain some places. Unfortunately he lost the back end of the car coming round the Schwalbenschwanz – also know as the mini carousel – and hit the barrier side-on. There was damage to the car but he kept running despite the fact that the steering wheel was at a 45 degree angle while going in a straight line.
There was a loss of power steering fluid and the car had to be pitted, going out of the race within the first two hours. Rebecca and her other team mate, Guy Riall, didn’t get their chance to race.
Rebecca said: “Conditions were tough. I am so disappointed that I didn’t get the chance to drive. I pride myself on being a quick, safe driver and respect the limits of this challenging track and I was keen to show that off and qualify for the Nurburgring 24h. I know just how careful you need to be on the Nordschleife, its has a reputation for a reason.”
The whole team is very disappointed not to finish the race but this, of course, hasn’t dampened Rebecca’s spirits as she’s still got her season in the KTM X-Bow to come.
There’s also still a chance that Rebecca will get to drive in the 24-hour race too. There’s another VLN race that Rebecca could compete in to get her permit A. This means it’s all hands on deck to create a plan, see what drives are available to assess viability and likelihood to achieve those 18 race laps required to step up from a Permit B to A. Watch this space!
Another positive that can be taken from the weekend is the fact that Rebecca walks away with her permit B licence. This is a big deal in the racing world as it’s only a very high standard of driver that’s allowed to race in VLN at the Nordschleife, simply because the track can be so dangerous.
Rebecca said: “The calibre of instructors is amazing, some of them have been racing at this track longer than I’ve been alive!
“The disappointment of not being able to drive in this race doesn’t deter from my final goal. In fact, the instruction I’ve had here at one of the most dangerous tracks in the world will be extremely beneficial as I go on to the Le Mans 24-hour, which is one of the most prestigious.”
This weekend, Rebecca will take part in her first SRO European GT race in the KTM at Monza. You can follow her progress on Twitter.