There is no doubt about it: Nico Bastian and Hendrik Vieth are true motorsport professionals. Barely a week after Bastian was crowned the new MINI Challenge Germany champion and Vieth finished runner-up, the duo finished third overall alongside Edward Sandström amongst a field of 160 cars at the season finale of the VLN Endurance Championship as guest drivers for Need for Speed Team Schubert.
Their start was part of a cooperation between MINI and BMW. "At BMW Motorsport we always have an eye on the MINI Challenge. Especially at the top the performance of this series is quite good," says Daniel Schmidt, Head of Sport and Business BMW Motorsport. "That is why we were very pleased to welcome last season's two top drivers, Nico and Hendrik, who now had a chance to show their abilities with the BMW Customer Racing."
Instead of their MINI John Cooper Works Challenge, Bastian, Vieth and Sandström drove one of Schubert Motorsport's 480 horse-powered BMW Z4 GT3 and immediately felt at home in their new car. "I could never have dreamt that I would find my feet so quickly with the BMW Z4 GT3 on the Nordschleife," said Vieth after the race. "To finish on the podium on my first outing for Need for Speed Team Schubert is obviously fantastic."
After crossing the finish line, the MINI Challenge Germany champion also was elated. "Many people would have thought that impossible before the race – me included. This third place is a huge success for Hendrik and me, as well as for Need for Speed Team Schubert, to whom I am very grateful," said Nico Bastian. "The podium finish is also a good way of thanking BMW Motorsport and MINI Motorsport for the faith they have shown in us. In my opinion, this just goes to show how good the drivers are in the MINI Challenge."
During the race, Vieth was able to improve his lap times by a stunning eight seconds compared to qualifying and even take the temporary lead, while Bastian was also fast. Stefan Wendl, Team Manager of Need for Speed Team Schubert, was full of praise for the drivers. "Nico and Hendrik produced a sensational performance alongside Edward," said Wendl after the race. "To immediately be that fast with such a powerful car as the BMW Z4 GT3 is truly amazing. It says a lot about the education that the MINI Challenge drivers get."
Do MINI Challenge Germany fans need to worry that their stars will turn their backs on their exciting series? Especially after Bastian and Vieth were very successful with the new MINI John Cooper Works Coupé at the Nürburgring 24 Hours at the end of June? No, although both enjoyed their latest outing. "It shows the potential," says Vieth. "I would be delighted if I were offered another chance to drive for the team next year."
Before this can happen, however, the new MINI Challenge Germany season will already be underway. Vieth has high hopes for 2012, his biggest goal being to reclaim the title - from Nico Bastian that is.
At the final race of the VLN Endurance Championship at the Nürburgring, Nico Bastian and Hendrik Vieth finished third overall as guest drivers of the Need for Speed Team Schubert.
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