“The suspension is the be-all and end-all on the Nordschleife if you want to be fast.”

Max Kruse racing driver Andreas Gülden on the 2019 VLN season

Together with the soccer professional Max Kruse, the Duisburg racing driver Benjamin Leuchter founded the “Max Kruse Racing” team last year. After a successful year in the ADAC TCR Germany, the team wants to attack in the VLN this season. In addition to Benjamin Leuchter, another Nordschleife ace, Andreas Gülden, will be at the wheel.

This driver pairing is a strong one: In 2017, Leuchter/Gülden won  the TCR classes in the Golf GTI TCR 24-hour race at the Nürburgring, and with five victories in nine races also in the VLN. The creative fans at the Ring honoured both of them with their own namesake: Both drivers and their VW Golf GTI TCR were quickly known in the German motorsport scene as the “Güldener Leuchter” (golden candlestick, derived from the meaning of their surnames).

In 2019, the two buddies get together again. Much to the delight of Andreas Gülden, who with a broad grin on his face states: “We’re both similarly nuts and just mega well-rehearsed. At our first team meeting this season it was like we’d never been apart.”

“The whole team has a super spirit, everyone is on fire for the VLN and wants to rock the Nürburgring,” says the chief instructor of the Nürburgring Driving Academy. After the experienced pilot was able to win the TCR class in the VLN in 2018 as well, there can only be one goal for 2019: “We have a reasonable clearly formulated goal: To win the championship. For me it would be the triple, for Max Kruse Racing the first title,” says Andreas.

Because Benjamin Leuchter and Sébastien Loeb Racing will also compete in the FIA WTCR with a VW Golf GTI TCR in 2019, Andreas Gülden will have a lot of work and cockpit time to do. Benjamin Leuchter will not be able to compete in all VLN races. Andreas Gülden will therefore be competing alone in one or two races in the VW Golf GTI TCR equipped with BILSTEIN shock absorbers. But this will not be the only challenge for Max Kruse Racing this year.

A total of 2.5 kilometers of freshly applied asphalt of the Nordschleife is still unknown to most drivers in the VLN. “I’ve already been allowed to test the new asphalt a bit,” reveals Andreas Gülden. “So far only in wet, humid conditions. And that was a lot of fun. There is really good grip, we don’t have to drive a special rain line. It’s much nicer to drive now. Even if it’s a bit of a pity for me because I had a few tricks for the rain line.”

Another unknown variable: The tyres from the new tyre partner Dunlop. Andreas Gülden: “Of course, we have to look first and foremost at how the tyres manage over the distance. It’s also a bit of a secret about a TCR car that we can stay out for a long time.”

In view of the numerous challenges it is good to have a strong partner like BILSTEIN on your side. “The suspension is the be-all and end-all on the Nordschleife if you want to be fast,” Andreas Gülden is convinced. “The suspension must simply work perfectly, it must be able to fully take the jumps on the track and steal over the curbs. Apart from that, a good suspension has to always give you a good feeling for the car”.

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