Tim Schrick: a boxer in the ring

23.08.2018

Tim Schrick once hosted a TV show about cars, is now a Subaru STi Factory driver and has developed his own Subaru BRZ to belt around the Nordschleife during VLN races. Hang on - VLN…? What’s that?

 

 

 

Tim Schrick: a boxer in the ring

Tim, before we kick off this interview, what is VLN?

 

The VLN or Veranstaltergemeinschaft Langstreckenpokal Nürburgring – loosely translated as the Association of Nürburgring Endurance Cup Organizers – is a championship that is based purely on the Nürburgring Nordschleife track. It’s a very open racing series that allows any car to participate, from a Renault Clio or an old Opel Manta through to a full-on GT3 race car, all spread out over 20 kilometres of racetrack. The championship consists of eight races, ranging from a three-hour race to a six-hour race.

 

Is it a good idea to mix cars with over 500bhp with others who barely make 150bhp?

 

Not in theory, but on the track that’s all part of the challenge – both for the slower cars and the faster cars. The VLN is all about endurance and smart racing techniques. It’s not about top speeds – that would be impossible and downright dangerous. It’s about bringing your car home through all this carnage, in one piece, as fast as possible. Which unfortunately didn’t happen last weekend because some idiot went for a gap that just wasn’t there and pushed us into the wall, wrecking our front right suspension and ending our race.

 

 

 

Tim Schrick: a boxer in the ring

Why do you focus on VLN and the ring, rather than other championships?

 

I love to challenge myself. People often say I’m a bit crazy for building my own car for VLN, and for racing as much as I do on the hardest track in the world, when there are much easier tracks to race on. But that’s the point. The ring sorts the men from the boys. Many modern tracks are so forgiving. They have chunks of concrete around the outside of corners to make sure that the drivers, literally, have room for errors. Combine that with modern technology, like stability management and traction control, and racing on most tracks is almost easy. At the “Ring”, on the other hand, there is a big slab of concrete in the middle, which is the track, and if you make a mistake there is a thin strip of grass to make sure you don’t slow down as you collide with the wall located two metres further out. And my car doesn’t have stability management or traction control. But to be honest there have been some hairy moments out there, which have made me wonder what I was doing there in the first place.

 

The Nürburgring is scary enough when you’re driving around it on your own. I can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like during a race. What was your most hair-raising moment during a competition?

 

A few years ago there was a fatal crash on the Nürburgring, and after that the committee behind the Nürburgring decided to impose some speed limits on the track. In some places the limit is 200kmph and then 250kmph at the Dottinger Höhe. If you break those limits you’ll be penalized. The only problem for us was that our Subaru STi’s ECU only allows for two speed limits to be set on the steering wheel. We already had one set for 60kmph in the pit lane and the slow zones, and another one for 200kmph. So we had to manage the 250kmph with our right foot. At one point during the 24h-race I was racing over Dottinger Höhe on a very foggy night, focusing on my speedo to keep within the limit, and when I looked up saw a car which had a puncture or something and was driving around at 50kmph. I just missed it by about a centimetre. That would’ve been a 200kmph impact.

 

 

 

Tim Schrick: a boxer in the ring

How did you team up with STi & Subaru?

 

It all started when I was a journalist and was invited to a press launch for the new Subaru BRZ, the joint venture between Toyota and Subaru. I instantly fell in love with the car. It was perfect. A few years later I was racing in VLN with Opel Astra OPC touring cars and although I really wasn’t too fond of that car I was really fast in it. That was a surprise even to me. Our good results got noticed and through my earlier contacts with Subaru I suddenly found myself face-to-face with the team manager of STi, asking me if I wanted to race their WRX STi in the 24h race. Of course I said yes. I didn’t need any time to think about it. And when I was racing with them I started talking to Subaru Germany and was offered my own road-going Subaru WRX STi, but I declined and asked them for a BRZ. After I’d got the car, I looked it over very thoroughly and not much later I went back to get another one to build into a race car. We started looking for some partners, such as Motul obviously, but also the likes of Bilstein and many others. I built a bespoke engine for this car, which revs all the way up to 8.800rpm. I based it on a 2.0 litre WRX boxer engine as the standard engine. Although it was great on the road, it wasn’t perfect for conversion into a race car engine. Unfortunately, we discovered that on the test bank when the engine blew up. Again, I love the challenge that racing presents me with. Finishing a race in a good position in a car that you’ve built yourself is one of the best feelings there is.

 

 

 

Tim Schrick: a boxer in the ring

Pictures : @1vier.com

 

 

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