Fast laps are one thing, but for some spectators the major attraction of the day is the Drift Challenge held in the afternoon. There may only have been two BMWs in the Tuner Grand Prix, but they made up for that by fielding eight of the 26 entries in the Drift Challenge for professional drivers. In addition, 15 of the 29 entrants in the Drift Competition for non-professional drivers were BMWs.
The Drift Challenge is traditionally an event that the BMW M5 tends to dominate, and from his first spectacular run, Nrburgring instructor Timo Kluck looked set to win the Drift Challenge in his E39 M5.
Not only did Timo pull off three perfect slides through Sachs Curve, he carried on sideways through the subsequent left and right bends that make up Opel Curve. The crowd went wild with approval, and the judges, including the legendary Walter Rohrl, gave him top marks for both style and his impressive 5.875-sec. drift through Sachs Curve.
If the Vath SL55 AMG and SLK200 did not fare too well against their opposition in the Tuner GP, Wolfgang Vath showed he still had a sense of humor by entering his company's Sprinter Pickup truck in the Drift Challenge. His driver, Markus Grossman, did pretty well, picking up a sixth overall, placing with a 5.775-sec. drift.
The best-placed Mercedes in the Drift Challenge came fifth overall when Open Class winner Wolfgang Kaufmann kept the Brabus CLK 6.1 sideways for 5.775 sec. Although his time was the same as Grossman's, he picked up extra points for style.
There were a few Porsches entered this year, two in the Drift Challenge for professional drivers and five in the Drift Competition for amateurs. In the former, well-known Porsche engine builder and 24-Hour Oldtimer racer Michael Irmgartz took joint seventh place with a 5.75-sec. slide in his 911E 2.4, while Sven Herberger finished 14th with a 5.675-sec. slide driving a 996 Carrera 2.
Porsche fared better in the Drift Competition with a solid third place from Angelo Perez Riemer, who drifted the TechArt Boxster 3.6 for a full 5.85 sec. The ultimate irony, perhaps, is that the longest slide of the day in either class lasted 5.975 sec., coming from Michael Kuke in his home-built and quite standard-looking 240-bhp classic VW Beetle!
For more photos of the 2003 Tuner GP and Drifting Challenge, log on to europeancarweb.com.