29th/30th June 2019: Dunlop Saloon Car Cup 2019 – Legends of Brands Hatch (GP Circuit) (GB)
Steffan Irmler: “The Dunlop Saloon Car Cup at Brands Hatch – that’s been the race of my life!”
English weeks – this is what the motorsport industry calls racing calendars, where every few days is spent from event to event. Steffan Irmler from Drebber in the Diepholz district is currently going through such english weeks. Having just returned from Donington on the British Isle, he and his usual three-man team stayed home for just one weekend to focus on the next outing. In Brands Hatch, it was even better for the German guests in the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup than in the previous two appearances.
“That’s been the race of my life!”, summarizes the 50-year-old Opel racer and owner of a medium-sized company for precision mechanics and CNC testing technology. “I’ve won my class twice – and after the second heat together with the full professional Michael Lyons, I was on the podium of the three best overall results – much more is hardly possible!” For the third time this year, Steffan Irmler with the 1998-built Irmscher Opel Vectra STW, which features a two-liter four-cylinder engine, appeared on the British island. In the grid of the Dunlop Saloon Car Cup, also several Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth occured, whose four-cylinder turbo engines gave way more than 500 hp 30 years ago – almost twice as much compared to the Opel Vectra, which unbroken popularity in the UK as a Vauxhall Cavalier pleased.
With Michael Lyons, who just returned from the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring with the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 by Franz Konrad from Gütersloh, also a current professional racer stood at the start. With Dave Coyne, who moved from Formula Ford to Group C2 in the mid-eighties, a veteran top driver piloted another “Cassie”, as the English Ford performance tuner and ex-racing driver Andy Rouse used to the primeval times. In addition, Steffan Irmler mixed again with his brand colleagues Tony Absolom and Darren Fielding. The trio of Opel drivers had delivered a heart-warming three-way fight at Donington 14 days earlier. The practice showed that the suspension tune-up taken in the run-up to the second round at Donington also worked out on the Brands Hatch roller coaster. “We have made only minimal changes in the 14 days between the two races,” reflected Steffan Irmler, “that fits very well here as well.” He also found it remarkable that “the atmosphere here is simply unique – many spectators settle in the meadows and slopes like at a historic festival, bring their picnic baskets, their blankets, and then simply enjoy good motorsport. It does not matter, if a few cars less compete as here.”
The practice showed that the suspension tune-up taken in the run-up to the second round at Donington also worked out on the Brands Hatch roller coaster. “We have made only minimal changes in the 14 days between the two races,” reflected Steffan Irmler, “that fits very well here as well.” He also found it remarkable that “the atmosphere here is simply unique – many spectators settle in the meadows and slopes like at a historic festival, bring their picnic baskets, their blankets, and then simply enjoy good motorsport. It does not matter, if a few cars less compete as here.”
In qualifying, the racer from Lower Saxony achieved the sixth place overall in the first appearance at Brands Hatch. His immediate rivals in the category of the two-liter supertourers, Darren Fielding and Tony Absolom, took him into the sandwich. Darren Fielding came in fourth with the former development chassis of domestic touring car legend John Cleland, followed by Tony Absolom in seventh spot. For the big surprise, Steve Dance provided a Ford Capri. Steffan Irmler and his colleague from the paddock were happy to say, “infernal-going car from the time of the group 1b and the Transeuropa trophy,” besides, a real feast for the eyes – it looks so beautiful, that car!”
In the first race, there was a body contact between Irmler and Darren Fielding, which is typical of the driving style on the British Isle. “I actually turned him around”, admitted the obviously adaptable guest from Germany, “a little bit like we did on our kart track in Holdorf before and he was not mad at us either, we talked openly after the 20-minute sprint. ” Steffan Irmler achieved his first class victory in the category ST1, on top of which he finished fourth overall. Classified ahead of him: the three Ford drivers Michael Lyons, Steve Dance and Dave Coyne. In the second heat, Dance and Coyne did not start anymore, but Carey McMahon took second place overall behind the quite convertible Michael Lyons with another Ford Sierra RS 500 Cosworth.
Overall third and again the class winner: an overjoyed Steffan Irmler, who received the honors for the first time in his English career section on the winner’s podium. “For me the race of my life,” he rejoiced, “now we also want to look really good at the fourth and final race in Oulton Park. Therefore, we put everything on a map and refrain from a planned start in the Motorsport Arena Oschersleben in early August, We do not want to risk anything and, above all, we do not want to jeopardize our sensitive, but so far quite durable engine.” The consequence: Only in October, Irmler will show at the Nürburgring again to the local audience.
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Photography: PSP Images