This weekend sees the ‘other’ big European 24 hour race, and by many measures the biggest.
We all know about Le Mans of course, and the Spa 24 later in the year is also reasonably high profile (well it was when GT1 and GT2 were involved, jury is out on the changes this year but that’s for another post), but it seems to my eyes that the Nurburgring edition often gets overlooked by the English-speaking racing media. Thankfully this is changing.
So why should you care about a race you may not have followed or even heard of before? I mean if it were that big surely you’d know some of the winners, right? Well, here are some reasons.
– 206 cars have entered this year’s race. That is not a typo – two hundred and six! These range from GT2 and GT3 (and similar spec) Porsches, Audis and BMWs at the front right the way down to modified Renault Clio Cups and VW Polos. It used to go even smaller than that but they limited it for safety! There’s also an Opel Manta that has been coming back for 15 or 20 years and is still fast.
– If you follow Le Mans, ALMS, LMS, FIA GT, DTM or the GrandAm Rolex Series you will be familiar with many of the front-running drivers. I’ve had a scan of the entry list which you can find here (PDF): Marco Werner, Mattias Ekstrom, Olly Jarvis, Timo Scheider, Romain Dumas, Timo Bernard, Mike Rockenfeller, Lucas Luhr, Richard Westbrook, Jorg Bergmeister, Wolf Henzler, Andy Priaulx, Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller, Dirk Muller, Pedro Lamy, Uwe Alzen, Dominik Farnbacher, Peter Dumbreck, Tom Coronel… oh and Sabine Schmidt who you’ll have seen on Top Gear and other things. In the smaller classes you’ll find World Rally driver Jari-Matti Latvala.
– There is factory involvement or part-involvement in many entries, that’s how many factory-linked Porsche, Audi and BMW drivers are present.
– Radio Le Mans are covering much of it live, there is nobody better in the sportscar world. Okay so their comparison of 200 GT cars having more overtaking than 24 F1 cars is clearly utter lunacy and is extremely annoying, but if you are able to let that slide (I try hard, I really do) it is very much worth it.
– Read this preview by James at The Checkered Flag (also of the TMR Game).
– The place has lots of unique quirks, you’ll only pick them up by following it live. Things like having three starts, the leaders lapping the tailenders before those tailenders have completed a lap, and the top 20 fastest cars carrying a flashing blue light in the cockpit to warn lapped cars that the leaders are coming because they can’t see the blue flags in the dark..
– It is a 24 hour race on the Nordscheife, you shouldn’t need convincing. But in case you do, here are some videos from last year:
And at night..
Mattias Ekstrom, Oliver Jarvis, Timo Scheider and Marco Werner start the race on pole in their #100 Abt Sportsline Audi R8 LMS with a time of 8:24.753 – out to avenge their lap one DNF of last year – and sharing the front row a mere 0.815s slower over the 25 kilometres were Mike Rockenfeller, Mark Basseng, Frank Stippler and Hans-Joachim Stuck in the Phoenix Audi R8 LMS. The second row is also made of Audis before you find several Porsches and the Schnitzer BMWs crewed by a mix of sportscar and WTCC drivers. This whole group is the main interest of the race from a competitive standpoint.
The Manthey Porsches have won the last few editions but Schnitzer also have wins under their belts and the Audis are very very fast – as it stands before the race things look very open indeed.
The race starts at 2pm UK time. Unfortunately I am going to miss the first few hours as I’ll be fulfilling a prior commitment, but I’ll be hoping to follow along from the early evening and again on the Sunday morning.
The official site is here, but there’s limited timing and scoring, I hope something more substantial appears for the race.
Finally, if anybody finds a video feed please feel free to post the link here, I shall do the same. I plan to watch the feed on mute and listen to Radio Le Mans.
EDIT – Here is the top ten from qualifying courtesy of Planet Le Mans.
1 Ekström/Jarvis/Scheider/Werner (Audi R8 LMS) 8m 24.753s
2 Basseng/Rockenfeller/Stippler/Stuck (Audi R8 LMS) 8m 25.568s
3 Abt/Collard/Luhr/Mies (Audi R8 LMS) 8m 27.967s
4 Biela/Fässler/Hennerici/Kaffer (Audi R8 LMS) 8m 29.250s
5 Arnold/Menzel/Westbrook/Margaritis (Porsche) 8m 29.521s
6 Mamerow/Henzler/Hardt (Porsche) 8m 29.779s
7 Lieb/Bernhard/Dumas/Tiemann (Porsche) 8m 30.323s
8 Müller/Farfus/Alzen/Lamy (BMW) 8m 32.861s
9 Bergmeister/Lietz/Holzer/Ragginger (Porsche) 8m 34.427s
10 Alzen/Schwager/Jäger/Bert (Porsche) 8m 34.906s