Thrilling overtaking maneuvers, happy-go-lucky talents, experienced legends – the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup season opener at Hockenheim produced the grand spectacle it was expected to be. The winner of the first out of ten races in 2012 was Ola Nilsson. In brilliant sunshine and in front of stands filled to the brim the Swede prevailed against the Finn Mika Salo, the best driver of the Legend classification who was driving with unbridled determination, and the German Jann-Hendrik Ubben.
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director: "Thousands of spectators got to enjoy a thrilling Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup opener. The many overtaking maneuvers that came about not least thanks to the updated push-to-pass system were always fair – which is one of the hallmarks of the world's most eco-friendly one-make cup. We got a taste of a great 2012 season here. All the people who are involved in the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup can be proud of the fact that the Cup has been a success right from its first year and is getting better from year to year.”
As last year's overall runner-up and after the departure of the 2011 champion, Mateusz Lisowski, Ola Nilsson had automatically started into the third season of the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup as the top favorite for the title. And the Swede lived up to his role as early as in qualifying at the Hockenheimring. With a healthy ten-second lead, he secured the first pole position of the year in front of Jann-Hendrik Ubben. The second row was occupied by the American Dennis Trebing and ex-Formula 1 racer Mika Salo, who was running in the Legend classification together with two other former Formula 1 racers, Marc Surer and Eric van de Poele.
In the race Ola Nilsson, who like all 25 entrants was racing the near-285-HP sport coupé, made good use of his starting advantage versus his competitors and defended his top position. The main winner of the start was Mika Salo, who overtook Dennis Trebing and advanced to third place. Marc Surer had a moment of shock on lap two. The Swiss, co-commentator on Sky TV, slipped into the track barrier after a collision but suffered no injuries.
At the front of the field, Nilsson initially distanced himself by a few seconds from his immediate rivals. Yet this buffer was short-lived as Mika Salo showed that he had not lost any of his skills despite his advanced age as a racer. After two laps he first overtook Jann-Hendrik Ubben and then started to chase front runner Nilsson. Towards the end of the race Nilsson and Salo fought a duel that was ultimately won by Nilsson and Salo took a fantastic second place – the best position achieved by a Legend since Johnny Herbert finished the 2010 Hockenheim finale as the runner-up. The best driver in the Junior classification was the Pole Jakub Litwin in seventh place. Eric van de Poele scored a respectable 14th place after eleven race laps.
# 23 Ola Nilsson
Qualifying: 1 – race 1: "A fantastic season opener. I had a superb start and fortunately managed to keep Mika Salo at bay all the way to the finish. One reason no doubt was the fact he had used up his pushes early on so that I had one more left on the last lap. It was a tremendous fight with him. Prevailing over such great drivers makes you feel proud. There are several drivers in the field who are in contention for victory this season. But it's also clear that my aim is to win the championship.”
# 27 Mika Salo
Qualifying: 4 – race 2: "I practiced a lot of starts in the practice session, which immediately paid off in the race when I gained one position. As the race progressed I made up one more position thanks to the push-to-pass system. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough to beat Ola in the end. I still tried to reach his slipstream – but there was no chance. I was amazed about how much I enjoyed my first race in a car with front-wheel drive. If I had the chance to run in another Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup race I think I'd be able to win.”
# 18 Jann-Hendrik Ubben
Qualifying: 2 – race 3: "I'm happy with third place. Mika Salo was quicker and I also didn't try to force the issue with him because as a Legend driver he's not taking any points from me in the overall classification. Keeping Dennis Trebing at bay was more important for me. It was a fierce battle with him, but in the end I won. I wouldn't mind the season continuing this way.”
# 25 Eric van de Poele
Qualifying: 20 – race 14: "The great thing about the R-Cup isn't just the race itself but the whole atmosphere. The whole organization is marvelous and very family-like. The young drivers become friends for life here. That's totally different than everyone working by themselves in their pits. The Cup is a very good school for young drivers. For us legends it's huge fun. And even though with my experience of having driven almost 90 different cars in racing events I personally prefer cars with rear-wheel drive, I can only recommend this series and a guest run in it to anyone.”
# 20 Oshan Kothadiya
Qualifying: 21 – race 16: "I'm simply happy to have finished. After 16th place there is certainly room for improvement. But in my first R-Cup race it was important for me to gather experience and to become more familiar with the car. The atmosphere is incredible for someone who is coming from India. I was warmly welcomed – by the drivers and the staff of Volkswagen and Volkswagen Motorsport. I'm very thankful for this. I'm already feeling at home.”
# 26 Marc Surer
Qualifying: 11 – retirement in the race: "Too bad. I'd have loved to fight more. I was really looking forward to the race. Unfortunately, I didn't have a good start, was bumped in the commotion and then had no chance of avoiding the excursion.”