Up until 2005, victory in the GT and Open Classes was usually down to either Gemballa or TechArt. However, in 2005, a rain-swept Hockenheim produced a new winner, Cargraphic, whose 435-hp GT3 RSC 3.8 was better able to deploy its power than the more powerful turbocharged 911s.
Just to prove the point that the superior-handling GT3-based car is also faster in the dry, the same Cargraphic car, again piloted by Marc Basseng, won in 2006 too.
Cargraphic continued its winning streak until 2008, when their car was pipped to First place by the TechArt GT Street S. To their chagrin, history repeated itself in 2009 when the GT Street RS, again driven by Jorg Hardt, the 1999 German Formula Ford 1800 Champion, and Carrera Cup regular, won again.
Until the 2009 event, a fastest lap was the clincher for a class, or overall, win. The major change in 2009 was the averaging of five flying laps for the contestants' representative time, thus putting consistent speed ahead of one blinding lap.
Anyone who saw Hardt drive the 700-hp GT Street RS witnessed an exercise in restraint and consistency behind the wheel. He was line perfect, and smooth on throttle and steering to the point where the car looked quick but rather unspectacular. The timing clocks said otherwise, and his 1:08.037 average with a best lap of 1:07.709 in the 700-hp GT2-based Porsche on street legal rubber was simply awesome.
But in 2010, for the first time a Porsche did not win the Tuner GP. TechArt didn't enter because they had nothing new to field and felt that entering the same car again would be pointless. In their absence, Cargraphic felt they would not have a worthy opponent and so did not come either.
So victory went to the 318-hp MTM X-Bow, driven by MTM mechanic and German Seat Cupra ace Florian Gruber. Proving that light weight and an advanced chassis can beat much more powerful but heavier cars, Gruber turned in a stunning 1:07.080 average and a 1:06.705 fastest lap, making this the quickest road-legal car in the event's history.
The afternoon sees track action of a quite different kind with the Drift Challenge. Drifting is a very popular motorsport in Japan and England, and the drivers in the Drift Challenge come from all over Europe. As noted, BMWs are a favorite make for the entrants here and you'll see M3s from the original E30 to the latest E92 taking part.
Three years ago, the organizers decided to make things a bit livelier with the winners of the first round tandem drifting as a pair. This drew even bigger applause from the crowd.
One of the best drifters is Werner Gusenbauer, who actually runs the drift school at Hockenheim. Werner always drives the MKB drift car. This used to be a CL 55 AMG, but for the last two years it has been a CLK 63 AMG. Indeed, as we saw from exhibition drifts from the Geiger Corvette and Arden Jaguar XKR Cabriolet, a big, torquey V8 makes drifting so much easier!
The Sport Auto Tuner GP and Drift Challenge is a great day out for car enthusiasts, where you can see road cars driven to their limits and beyond. They can also walk the pit lane and speak to real people without the hassle you get with the officialdom at FIA races. It's a car lover's heaven.