Let me take you back to the Nurburgring 24 hour race once more. Due to the trip both Allard van Grafhorst and myself made to the Le Mans 24 hours these photo’s have been laying around catching dust. Here is more on the Sunday of the race. As I returned to the pitlane it already was 03:00hrs. Allard and I had been enjoying a midnight schnitzel in the town of Adenau and after spending some time at the Breidscheid corner enjoying the atmosphere, it was now time for some photographic duties. The Hankook Team Heico SLS pulled in to it’s pits just when I entered the pitlane.
While it was deep into the night, the race was not even half way yet. Several cars had been involved in crashes, others failed due to technical difficulties. However the Swiss FT86 was steadily taking in it’s laps. Here it is making it’s way back into the darkness of the Eiffel after another stop.
While the drivers are out there conquering the Nurburgring, making sure that they get back in one piece while keeping up the pace, they are monitored through the many screens at the pit wall. All though the guys checking up on them still have plenty to do, I wonder how sleepy they might get sometimes from constantly keeping track of the screens.
Suddenly the #19 Schubert BMW Z4 GT3 pulled in to the pits. The pole sitting car had been fighting hard during the entire race and it was one of the favorites for the win. Due to issues with the drivetrain the team lost a lot of time getting the problems solved. Some 52 minutes later the #19 rejoined. Unable to compete for the win, the drivers still started to put down the fastest lap times of them all. How about that for a fighting spirit. After all the competition might suffer mechanical failures as well.
When I left the pitlane more and more cars were pulling in. Things can get really hectic as there are so many team doing work on their cars. As I was starting to feel the previous short night and the long day I already had, it was time for some refreshments. A strong sugar boost would surely get me going for some more hours. Fortunately the media center had just what I was looking for. Coca Cola and chocolate.
After a short brake and catching up with Allard for a 7TUNE update, I decided to get some sleep to renew my energy. While walking out of the building I noticed the beauty of the early morning light and decided to stay out longer. The best decision ever, as the light flooded the track with an awesome atmosphere. The cars emerged from the darkness, dirty and filled with battle scars, while roaring off into a light orange glow. Combine that with the engine sounds and the smell of racing and you are hooked on endurance racing for the rest of your life!
The #165 Gazoo Racing FT86 also survived the night. With it’s 200 BHP, the two liter engine proved to be a solid package. While the #165 would place 6th in class it’s sister car would end up on the top spot of the SP3 podium.
With the sun now rising quickly, the track was soaked in a golden glow, making it even more magic. It is hard to imagine that 10 minutes later it would start pouring with rain!
The WRT Audi on the move. Speaking of this team, I would like to give a shout out to Sean Klingelhoefer of Speedhunters. It was nice meeting you and your girlfriend in Germany. Hope to meet you at another event some time!
After an hour or two of sleep I headed towards the Carrousel. The outside of this corner had been on my bucket list of things to shoot for the last few years. This time I had my mind set to make the shots I have always wanted. It took me over 5 hours to get here and walk back to the rendez vous point with Allard but it was worth every single step. Just the view of these Audi’s blasting up the hill made my day right there.
The GTR Track Pack approaching it’s turn in point. Nissan entered this GTR with only slight modifications to allow it in to the race. Furthermore a lot of things were kept standard. The N24 race was one big test session for the GTR. Nissan wanted to see how it would keep up in race pace and what was needed to improve on the car for it’s customers. At 16:00hrs the car finished in 99th place but with plenty of parts that had been replaced. I am looking forward to see what changes Nissan will make after this experience and how it will improve the GTR.
The Subaru Impreza WRX claimed a class win in the SP3T class for the second year in a row. While the team grabbed an early lead, it still had it’s share of problems during the race. The repairs had cost the STI team quite some time but this was not enough for their closest rivals to catch up.
Besides two V12 Vantage GT3 machines Aston Martin also entered this V12 Zagato in to the race. With a 26th place overall the car took a second place podium in it’s class. A great result as the team has a 100% finishing result in this class since 2006.
This is by far my favorite angle of any corner on any racetrack. This really shows how steep and hard the Carrousel is on any car. Here the P4/5 and the Corvette are passing by a few hours before the finish.
Here the battle scarred 911 of the Manthey Team lifts a wheel on the exit of the Carrousel. The Manthey Outfit has won the race five times in the last six years but in 2012 the race ended in a tragedy. While the car was only a few seconds of the 24 hour mark, Romain Dumas braked to avoid running another fast lap. The Porsche did not have enough fuel onboard to finish an extra lap at race speed and it stalled after the finish line. A fast approaching Renault Clio ran into the Manthey Porsche at full speed. Due to the accident neither of the two cars could finish the final lap and were not qualified.
Unlike the #23 Nissan GTR, the Polyphony backed #123 GTR of Schultze Motorsport is a full race car. Like last year this car would go home with the title in the SP8T Class. (T stands for Turbo) Here is Kazunori Yamouchi making his way up to the Hohe Acht corner before handing over the car to, GT Acadamy winner, Lucas Ordonez for his stint to the finish.
Like the #166 FT86, the Gazoo Racing LFA achieved a class win. Gazoo Racing must have returned to Japan as a happy team.
One of the Nordschleife’s challenging sections is Brunchen. Can you imagine that, when there were still F1 races held here, there used to be a jump in the middle part of this corner.
I can not think of any other race track that gets to see so much spray paint from fans to cheer on drivers, teams and manufacturers as the Nurburgring. This is more the kind of writing that you would see in the Tour de France.
Besides the steep drops the Ring also has plenty of steep inclines. Add a couple of trees and a race car and you have a beautiful scene.
The P4/5 got lucky and finished the race. During a previous pitstop the car caught fire while it was being refueled. Fortunately the fire was quickly extinguished and the car could move on.
The clock kept ticking and the final hour had approached. This lone Porsche is moving up towards the small Carrousel and than would be off to the final laps of the race.
16:00hrs, Countdown 00:00, the race is finished. The Bilstein R8 LMS Ultra of Audi Team Phoenix crosses the finish line and wins the 40th edition of the Nurburgring 24 hour race.
When most cars had crossed the line, it was time to head back home. 24 hours of racing and 36 hours of fun had come to an end!!!
Like most teams Allard and myself are already looking ahead towards the 2013 edition of the race. See you then!
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Words & Photo’s – Mathieu Van Den Oever