Sensor failure costs Lidsey podium finish
Sensor failure costs Lidsey podium finish

Brett Lidsey made his long-awaited return to competitive track action during the opening round of the rescheduled Nurburgring Endurance Series in Germany on Saturday, where a luckless VVT sensor failure cost the him a likely class podium on his debut in the category. 

While understandably very disappointed to have been forced to retire from the four-hour race, his first piloting a rear-wheel drive BMW M240i, the Northfleet racer has nonetheless taken away a lot of positives from his maiden weekend at the fearsome 24-kilometre Nurburgring-Nordschleife.

Sharing driving duties of the No.694 Gerri Limonade Sorg Rennsport BMW with Germany’s Kevin Wolters and Russia’s Ivan Berets, Lidsey produced a fantastic account of himself and underlined his position as one-to-watch as the series unfolds during the second half of 2020.

As a result of the coronavirus lockdown over the last few months, prior to this weekend’s debut in the Nurburgring Endurance Series the Liftout and Dornack backed driver’s last competitive run was back in October at Brands Hatch during the finale of the 2019 Renault UK Clio Cup.

“Overall, the race was mega”, said the 28-year-old, “We couldn’t have asked for any more from ourselves, everyone did a great job – from the guys in the team to the drivers. Everything was so well organised and relaxed, and the approach paid off. I really can’t wait to do it all again in two weeks for the double-header.” 

Berets qualified the No.694 BMW fifth fastest in the Cup5 class, able to get a quick lap in the book early during Saturday morning’s session before rain arrived. The race began at midday local time and featured a combined grid across all classes of an incredible 140 cars.

Lidsey took the opening stint of the race, on a damp track initially, and had a great battle over fourth but the scrap enabled his pursuers to close in. When the significantly faster GT3 cars came through to lap the Cup5 contenders, Lidsey was elbowed back to seventh place in class in among the traffic.

Hitting back strongly, he passed for sixth and fifth in quick succession on the Döttinger Höhe Straight and by his seventh lap he was catching fourth again. When Lidsey entered the pits to hand over the car to Berets, the two cars were almost nose-to-tail.

During the pit-stop the Sorg Rennsport squad did a great job and Berets was able to assume fourth, but slipped back to fifth under refuelling. Able to catch and pass for fourth place on his first lap, the Russian progressed strongly and climbed to second place in class before slipping to third.

Wolters got behind the wheel for his stint and entered the race in third position, but as he approached Flugplatz on the BMW’s 15th lap the car went into limp mode and eventually ground to a halt. Post-race, the team identified the issue as an extremely rare VVT sensor failure. 

“One of our mechanics and a BMW motorsport engineer went down to where the car was to try and fix the issue, but they had no luck so we had to retire”, explained Lidsey, “It was such a shame as we were on for a top five finish at least, maybe a podium, in our first race in the Nurburgring Endurance Series. It’s disappointing, obviously, but I’m so pleased with the level of competitiveness we had.”

In terms of the level of pace, Lidsey, Berets and Wolters came away from the first race of the season with the fifth fastest lap in the Cup5 class, a time of 9m20.063 seconds – just five seconds shy of class podium pace around the 24-kilometre lap.