Come March I always feel a bit excited! The racing season is kicking off and and it is great to see all the new cars, liveries and teams through all the divisions of the Motorsport calendar.
While March get’s the excitement going, it’s May and June that will really get my blood pumping. With both the 24 hour races at the Nurburgring and Le Mans approaching, it is the right season for the endurance race fan. Well; the first countdown is over and the 40th edition of the Nurburgring 24hour race is in the pocket. Like last year I will show you my experiences from around the track. Fortunately I also had 7TUNE buddy Allard van Grafhorst with me on this episode so we have enough to show you of this fun filled event.
Early Friday afternoon I arrived in Nurburg and picked up my media vest and passes. As the 2011 edition of the race was my last visit to The Ring, I could not wait to get back behind the guardrail to start shooting all the action. Normally I walk around the paddock first to check what is going on and to spot all the cars and teams. However this year my attention was drawn straight to the track as there were plenty of great classics going round, like this Ford Escort.
As the race with the classics was about to finish and the rain started to come down again it was time to head for the paddock. Fortunately this train of cars passed just before I left, making me wonder if there is any car that does not look good in Gulf colors.
The first thing I went to check out in the pit area were the FT86’s of Gazoo Racing. As I only knew the streetspec of the car from internet photo’s, I was more than happy to see the cars in racetrim as a first encounter. Gazoo made it very clear how they feel about their business as I passed their truck to meet the cars.
With practice and qualifying sessions on the Thursday and Friday prior to the race, all the teams were busy checking up on their cars. Seeking what more they can squeeze from it’s potential to go faster. The FT86’s even looked better than I had expected and the added vinyl made the cars look so much more aggressive.
Another car that I was looking forward to see in the flesh was the newly developed GT3 version of the GTR. As the GTR is already a strong contender in the FIA GT1 Championship I was more than eager to witness it’s performance in the GT3 category. In the run up to the big race there were plenty of other races and the British GT Championship was also part of the action. With three GTR’s on the grid, the weekend was off to a great start!
The GTR’s surely did not disappoint. This is the lead of the Nissan PlayStation Academy GTR after the first lap. As you can see in the back of the photo, the competition is not showing up with just some toys but with heavy artillerie. This GTR would later drop back to a 5th place finish but it was great to finally see it in action.
As the British GT race came to an end, Allard had arrived at the track as well. With more rain clouds gathering around the castle’s towers, it was time to get settled in the media center and to plan the busy night ahead.
After watching the top 20 qualification runs for the big race it was time to head to the Mullenbachschleife for the Falken Tire drift show. The possibility of rain did not stop hundreds of fans showing up and even the pinguins of Madagascar escaped from the zoo to witness the Eiffel getting smoked.
After getting a lift on to the track from Danny den Teuling of Remmo Autosport, Allard and I were just in time to see all the cars line up and prepare for the show.
Although Alan Green had not driven his car until this event he was destroying the place! The noise and the power coming from his Tomei engine was highly appreciated as were his high speed entries, angles and clouds of smoke.
Camera’s were flashing, the crowd’s were cheering and it seemed like people of all ages like drifting. Besides having the skills to clean up the mess after a crash or helping drivers when they get stuck, the marshals will probably have some of the best photo’s as they are always close to the action!
This year Remmo Niezen was not only showing why his is one of the best drifters out there, he also organized the whole show. To make sure that everybody would enjoy the Falken Tire demonstration Remmo also invited drifters with other tire sponsors to maximize the variety in cars and crowd favorites. How about some Old School vs New School battles?
Talking about Remmo Niezen, here is the man himself appearing out of a cloud of smoke.
After the demo had finished we jumped back onboard with Danny. As we followed the drivers leaving the track, it was clear that most of them were enjoying themselves to much to end the show.
Straight from the demo the Falken team drove their rides to the Lindner Eifeldorf Hotel behind the GP Track. As there was no valet parking present the guys decided to give an extra demo for all the guests of Falken Tire at the hotel.
Matt Carter was one of the guys that cam all the way from the U.K. so he sure was not going to waste time! With the loud noise of his engine he had the crowds on their feet in no time.
Before heading back to the Falken Paddock, Remmo added a photo he was still missing in his collection and had some fun with the local law enforcement.
After returning to the campers the guys set up a big BBQ party which went on until deep in the night. As both Allard and myself were camping in our cars we got invited to stay with the team.
An offer we could not refuse. With plenty of great stories, cold beers and warm sausages an awesome Friday came to an end but not before we took some night shots of the cars.
More on the Nurburgring 24 hour race itself is coming soon!
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Words & Photo’s – Mathieu Van Den Oever