Hail makes for a difficult 24h-Race start

The red flag came at 16:20hrs: Some 50 minutes after the start into the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race the race control had to red flag the event. Torrential rain and massive hail turned parts of the circuits within minutes into a slide. Following the start in dry and sunny conditions, a big number of the cars shod with slicks skidded helplessly of the track. At certain places, the drivers had to cope with a real traffic jam as driving on the glassy track proved to be absolutely impossible. Therefore, the race control felt impelled to temporarily red flag the 44th edition as getting all the cars back to the pits otherwise would have been impossible. The race control currently is discussing the possible point in time for the restart – that definitely won’t take place before 18:00hrs. Despite numerous incidents, not a single driver was injured. The 24h-Race action can be followed throughout the event at RTL NITRO as the Cologne based station covers the entire race live. Meanwhile, the event’s official website. www.24h-rennen.de, provides video live stream, live ticker, the race callers’ comments and live timing.

“That’s how the Eifel is, sometimes,” said Race Director Walter Hornung after having red flagged the race. “To continue the race in these conditions was absolutely unthinkable. At first we will have to clear the track and get an exact overview of the consequences of this thunderstorm. First of all it’s important that nobody was injured. Now we have to tidy up, offer the teams to the possibility to repair their damaged cars – and then we have to return onto the starting grid. The restart won’t take place before 18:00hrs – and we will communicate the time for the re-start in time.” Meanwhile, the 24h-Race time is ticking on. The race will end as scheduled tomorrow at 15:30hrs.

Pole sitter held the lead when the race was red-flagged
Prior to the red flag, Mercedes-AMG and BMW had been the leaders. Maro Engel (Germany) won the start for AMG-Team Black Falcon in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #9, with the Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 #18 that had been second on the grid following close behind. The two leading cars raced at high speed and lap by lap, they opened a bigger gap on the rest of the field. The fastest of the pursuers was DTM driver Maximilian Götz in the dark black Mercedes-AMG GT3 of the Haribo Racing Teams – AMG – but with three laps completed, he already was 10 seconds behind. But when the race was red-flagged at the end of lap five, Götz and fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Christian Hohenadel (#29 / AMG-Team HTP-Motorsport) also had opened a gap on the next group of GT3 cars. Fifth and sixth positions were held by Klaus Graf (#22, ROWE Racing) and Frank Stippler (#5, Phoenix Racing).

Big top-star contingent on the 24h Race grid

Half a DTM grid, old hands, the second generation of famous names plus several record hunters and series switchers – the grid for the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race looks like a Who is Who of motor racing. Among the 600 drivers that are about to meet the adventure ‘Green Hell’ are numerous drivers the fans usually witness racing in other series.

Since the big manufacturers Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz have defined the 24h-Race win as one of their season goals, the DTM drivers represent a big and important part of the starting grid. This year, nearly half the DTM field will be contesting the legendary endurance race. While BMW’s Timo Glock’ only’ works twice around the clock as TV expert for the race’s new TV partner RTL NITRO and Mercedes driver Daniel Juncadella only contested the 24h Classic Race, 11 of their 22 colleagues also will race in the main event.

BMW has got the biggest DTM line-up
And BMW are the leaders, in this area. At total of five DTM drivers have been assigned to the 24h Race. Augusto Farfus, in 2010 the first Brazilian ever to have won the Eifel marathon, will race the Schubert BMW M6 GT3 #18 together with Marco Wittmann. Martin Tomczyk will contest the race in the sister car with the anniversary #100. Belgian Maxim Martine who was defeated in last years 24h Race by just 40 seconds makes another effort to secure the overall win – with Rowe Racing. While Briton Tom Blomqvist will contest his first race for Walkenhorst.

Audi has got only four DTM drivers on site but only one of them, Italy’s Edoardo Mortara – hasn’t got a 24h-race win under his belt. 2015 winner Nico Müller will contest the race for Audi Sport Team WRT in the Audi R8 LMS #1. The two former DTM Champions Timo Scheider (winner 2003) and Mike Rockenfeller (winner 2006) will alternate in the cockpit of the Land-Audi #28. Mercedes driver Maximilian Götz even is going to contest the race in two cars: und the two Haribo-Mercedes AMG GT3 vehicles #8 and #88 Gas. While his young fellow Mercedes-Benz driver Christian Vietoris will contest his first 24h home race in the HTP-Mercedes #29.

DTM Record Champion Bernd Schneider, 24h-race winner in 2013, also is back on the grid and the same applies to Portugal’s Pedro Lamy. With five wins under his belt, the former Formula One and DTM driver is the record winner at ‘The Ring’. Also part of the Eifel inventory is Volker Strycek. The 1984 DTM Champion and former Opel Motorsport Director will contest the race not only in the iconic Opel Manta but also – together with his children Lena and Robin – in an Opel Astra.

The second generation
Meanwhile, the Zakspeed Mercedes #75 will feature the second generation of famous names. Luca Ludwig and Sebastian Asch, the reigning ADAC GT Masters Champions, alternate in the cockpit – inter alia – with Kenneth Heyer. Their fathers Klaus, Roland and Hans entertained the motor-racing enthusiasts with thrilling battles many years ago. And the name Lauda also can be found on the entry list. Niki Lauda’s son Mathias, a former DTM driver and a GT racer today, will race the Aston Martin #27. Markus Winkelhock, the son of Manfred Winkelhock, hopes to secure his second overall win with the Phoenix-Audi #6 – at the motor-racing venue where he also contested his only Formula One race.

The 24h Race also is particularly attractive for other motor racers and part-time racing drivers. The former Word Rally Championship ace Armin Schwarz, for instance, is contesting the race for the second time with a Subaru called Horst. “’Alles auf Horst’ relates to a movie dealing with a lot of self-irony and the fact that you needn’t to always be the one who wins. It’s about being part of a real happening – and this applies to the 24h Race like to no other. Winning only represents the second priority,” reveals Schwarz.

Also again on the grid is rapper Smudo, member of the iconic rap formation ‘Die Fantastischen 4’ who once again contests the race with an ecofriendly vehicle – this time the Porsche Cayman GT4 #112. And the race also fascinates a lot of drivers from abroad. The Briton Chris Harris, for instance, the new Top Gear presenter, will be one of the drivers who race the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus #703.

Lifetime achievement award for Michael Schumacher

When Sabine Kehm accepted the new lifetime achievement award for Formula One Record World Champion Michael Schumacher on Friday evening as representative of the German, the 300 guests rose from their seats in the ring°werk cinema to honour the German with standing ovations. Schumacher was one of the three winners in the first Nürburgring Award ceremony held in the run-up to the 24h Race. Furthermore, musician and racing driver Smudo received the ambassador of the year award while Mercedes was honoured as brand of the year for their successes in the 2015 season in DTNM and Formula One.

Nonetheless, the award ceremony for Michael Schumacher who also is the record winner in the Eifel with five GP wins at the Nürburgring took centre stage. Norbert Haug, former Mercedes-Benz Motorsport Director and long-term Schumacher companion gave a very emotional laudation on the 47-year old who has to be nursed at home, two and a half years after his bad skiing accident. Afterwards Haug presented Schumacher’s manager Sabine Kehm with the award, accompanied by standing ovations

Sabine Kehm thanked for the award
“A lifetime award is something really special. In Michael’s case you just have to say: he deserved it as he did everything right, as motor racer. This award is a confirmation of his will power, his motivation and – of course – his amazing talent, his extraordinary discipline and his work enthusiasm,” the former journalist said in her acceptance speech. “But one thing is clear: We all would feel better if he was standing here tonight to thank you instead of me. But unfortunately this isn’t possible and we all have to accept the situation and learn how to deal with it. Nonetheless, we all will keep on hoping and do everything what we can that could help thing to perhaps change, some day. What I really like in this award and what made Michael’s family happy, too, is the fact that this lifetime award dignifies Michael’s motor racing career, thus letting it take centre stage again. It was high time that these topics are moved back to the centre of the public interest. Therefore, I have to say a special thank you that this is achieved by this prize.”

The laudation for the environmentally aware and German rapper Smudo of the band ‘Die Fantastischen 4’ – and motor racer – was given by German actress Sophia Thomalla. Dr Michael Illgner, Chairman of ‘Deutsche Sporthilfe’ recognised the Mercedes-AMG’ successes in the 2015 season and presented Mercedes-AMG CEO Tobias Moers with the award.

The jury of the new Nürburgring Award comprised – in addition to Norbert Haug – the former Formula One ace and today’s BMW DTM driver Timo Glock as well as RTL Formula One pit-lane reporter Kai Ebel. Ebel sent a video message from the Formula One GP in Monaco t – together with four-time Formula World Champion Sebastian Vettel who also keeps an eye on the 24h Race, from the Principality. A race he only knows as spectator, to date. “It’s contested at the Nordschleife and so, the 24h Race is a race for real men and with an outstanding atmosphere. Everybody should contest this race some day,” said Vettel who also has fond memories of the Nürburgring beyond the 24h Race. “Yes, of my first home win in Formula One,” he explained. “The Nürburgring is a very special place for every racing driver. And to race with Formula One at the Nordschleife would be the real hit.”

Partystimmung in der Müllenbachschleife

Die Müllenbachschleife war am Freitagabend für die Fans des ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennens traditionell Anlaufpunkt Nummer eins. Zahlreich fanden sich die Rennbesucher am tiefsten Punkt des Grand-Prix-Kurses ein, um bei der Falken Drift Show, dem Red Bull Freestyle und bei Livemusik im DSK Zelt ordentlich für Stimmung zu sorgen.

Im Anschluss an das Top-30-Qualifying machte die Falken Drift Show den Anfang. Unter anderem sorgte das hauseigene Drift-Team des japanischen Reifenherstellers sorgte für Furore. Die Quertreiber rund um Remo Niezen, Rohan van Riel und Rick van Goethem begeisterten das Publikum mit gewagten Driftwinkeln. Wenn gleich mehrere Fahrzeuge im Formationsflug durch die 180-Grad-Kurve flogen, dann hielt es niemanden auf seinem Sitz.

Als sich die Rauchschwaden der Drift-Show gelegt hatten, schlug die Stunde von Trial-Ass Julien Dupont sowie den Freestylern Luc Ackermann, Petr Pilát und Davide Rossi. Mit waghalsigen Flugmanövern heizten die Zweirad-Akrobaten den Fans mächtig ein. „Der Nürburgring ist echt ein Highlight“, sagte der Franzose Dupont. „Hier sind massenweise Fans, Autos und einfach packender Sport. Yvan Müller kommt aus meiner Heimatstadt Lion – ihm drücke ich für das WTCC-Rennen besonders die Daumen.“

Im Anschluss an die Drift- und Freestyle-Show startete die große Party im DSK-Zelt. Die Band ‚Skybagg’ aus der Eifel brachte mit ihrem abwechslungsreichen Repertoire schnell die Partygäste zum Tanzen. „Jahr für Jahr ist die DSK-Party am Freitagabend ein wichtiger Programmpunkt für die Fans“, sagte DSK-Präsident Dr. Karl Friedrich Ziegahn. „Sie bildet nicht nur den krönenden Abschluss eines langen Trainingstages, sondern ist gleichermaßen Einstimmung auf die Party, die an den folgenden zwei Tagen rund um die Nordschleife stattfindet.“

Pole press-conference quotes

Following a tumultuous Top 30 Qualifying, the three fastest drivers attended the pole press conference to answer the questions of the media representatives. Please read below what pole-sitter Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG), second-placed Augusto Farfus (BMW) and Maximilian Götz (Mercedes-AMG, third position) had to say.

Maro Engel (Mercedes-AMG), pole position: “Two free Nordschleife laps combined with a light car and a fresh set of tyres – that just fantastic. A thank you to the team, the car was perfect. I couldn’t have wished for more. The key factor for our success was the tyre preparation, our plan worked perfectly. On my first lap the tarmac wasn’t dry and I jack-knifed badly. But the second lap was extremely good. A 24h race is very long but the pole is the best position to start from, nevertheless. It always is an advantage to stand at the front end of the grid. It means that you possibly will have free vision and a free track for quite a while. But as I see it, there are far more cars than the ones here on the podium that could and want to become a factor in the battle for the win.”

Augusto Farfus (BMW), second position on the grid: “We have made it to the front row on the grid for the second consecutive time. Last year it was the pole, this year we didn’t quite make it. But being second on the grid also is a really fine result. The Top 30 Qualifying always is great and this time it also was extremely challenging as the dry line was very narrow and so, making a mistake was extremely easy. Our new M6 ran really well and the grid position represents another extra boost for our confidence. And although the conditions arguably will become extremely difficult if the weather forecasters are right, consistency will be the key factor if you want to win the 24h Race. The car must be easy to drive and feature a high basic speed. And I think that’s exactly what we have got with our M6. Of course, there always are some question marks if you are racing an all new car but in 2010 we contested the race with our M3 GT2 that also was new, then. And we won the car’s first 24h race right away. It would be great if we could repeat this feat with the M6, this year.”

Maximilian Götz (Mercedes-AMG), third position on the grid: “First of all a big thank you to Haribo-Racing. They gave us two great cars that allowed us to set virtually identical lap times. We will try to race both cars as long as possible. On my out lap I familiarised myself and tried to imprint the still wet spots on my memory. It was quickly clear that my second lap would be clearly faster as the track dried more and more. And the fact that both our cars, #8 and #88, qualified for the second row on the grid is just great. I didn’t take the car to its absolute limit in these conditions as we have seen that losing it was easy. That’s why I am particularly happy with third position. At the scene of the Porsche accident, every driver had to be extremely focused. The decision to only show the yellow flag was absolutely correct. This session was solely contested by the Top 30 drivers and they know how to deal with such a situation.”

Maro Engel secures the pole

Maro Engel secured the prestigious ADAC Zurich 24h-Race pole position for the AMG-Team Black Falcon. Engel who was lucky in the draw and consequently was the first to go out for his two flying laps in the Top 30 Qualifying on Friday evening. And on his second flying lap, Engel and his Mercedes-AMG GT3 #9 crossed the line of the 25.378-kilometre combination of Nordschleife and GP circuit in 8:14.515 minutes, thus outqualifying the entire field. This means that he and his team-mates Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman and Dirk Müller will start into the tradition-rich Eifel marathon from pole position. And although the pole isn’t of particular significance in a 24h race, it still is a minor psychological success in the battle of the top-class endurance-racing teams.

The position in the first row next to the Black Falcon squad on the grid for the legendary race will be held by Augusto Farfus, Jesse Krohn, Jörg Müller and Marco Wittmann. With a lap time of 8:16.146 minutes, Brazilian Farfus in the Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 was 1.6 seconds slower than Engel. Third and fourth positions were secured by the two Haribo-Mercedes racers that will contest the race with the same driver line-up. Uwe Alzen secured third position on the grid with car #88 with an 8:18.380-minute lap and his team-mate Maximllian Götz in the #8 was just 15 hundredth of a second slower (8:18,530 minutes).

According to Engel, tyre preparation was the key factor
“A big thank you to Team Black Falcon,” Engel said after his amazing lap. “The car was just perfect. I think, the key factor for today’s success was the fact that we prepared the tyres perfectly. As you could see due to the numerous off-track moments, the conditions were really difficult. I also had a moment of shock on my out lap and jack-knifed massively. Now we will have free vision at the start.” The race will be started on Saturday at 15:30hrs and the fans who couldn’t make the trip to the Eifel can watch the 24h-Race action live on the free-to-air TV station RTL NITRO – and in addition it is streamed live at www.24h-rennen.de.

Bad luck for the reigning champions and car #1.
Pierre Kaffer who contested the Top 30 Qualifying for reigning champions Audi Sport Team WRT in the Audi R8 LMS #1 had to return to the pits due to a tyre puncture, could complete only one flying lap and had to settle for finishing 22nd. And the hopes of Porsche driver Kevin Estre in the Manthey-Porsche #911 and Christian Mamerow in the Twin-Busch-Audi #16 came to an even earlier – before the hunt for the best lap times really had begun. Both hit the crash barriers as early as on the out lap. Later in the session, Luca Ludwig in the Zakspeed-Mercedes #75 and Nicky Catsburg in the Rowe-BMW #2 also lost it and hit the crash barriers, with Catsburg’s time set on his first flying lap being good enough for seventh position on the grid, nevertheless.

Mercedes AMG one-two-three in Q2

In the second qualifying session for the ADAC Zurich 24h Race, the fastest Nordschleife teams provided the crowds thrilling motor racing. In the end, the Haribo Racing Team-AMG secured the top position on the time sheets: the Mercedes AMG GT3 #88 raced by the German quartet Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz and Jan Seyffarth outqualified the entire field, with its 8:16.311-minute lap. And another two Mercedes-Benz vehicles followed in second and third position: the Mercedes-AMG GT3 #29 of AMG-Teams HTP-Motorsport raced by the three Germans Christian Vietoris, Marco Seefried and Christian Hohenadel as well as Dutchman Renger van der Zande was just 0.180 seconds slower than the provisional pole sitters, with #14 (Black Falcon) coming third. And now, with the combined results of Q1 and Q2, we also know which teams have made it to the Top 30 Qualifying that will be held tonight from 19:50hrs in the individual time trial format. 13 positions for the battle for the positions on the first 15 rows still were available. And this final battle can be followed not only by the crowds on site alone: all the Nordschleife action is streamed live by the Vodafone live stream at www.24h-rennen.de. And on free-to-air TV, RTL NITRO will begin its 24h-Race coverage at 19:30hrs.

In the second qualifying session, held on Friday morning, the times dropped quickly. While the major part of the second qualifying session was contested in the wet, the teams had the chance of going for it in dry conditions, in Q2. So, the times set by the cars were improved again and again and in the second hour alone, the provisional pole was stolen eight times. In the end, DTM ace Maximilian Götz took the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the Haribo bear on the bonnet to provisional pole position. “I had a rather free lap with nearly no traffic,” he beamed afterwards, “And there also weren’t any yellow-flag periods. So I have to admit that I also had a dose of luck. There car isn’t quite where Id want it to be. But it handles and drives well. Let’s see what happens in the Top 30 Qualifying. I expect the Audi and Porsche teams to up the ante.“ For nearly all the top teams, securing the coveted positions for the individual time trial for the best positions ob the grid represented the No1 priority.

Fire on the Adenauer Forst camping ground

  • Nine spectators injured – no visitor in life threatening danger
  • Party tent burned down, loss of property in the four-digit area
  • Firefighters from Adenau and the Nürburgring in action

During a bad accident on a camping ground on Thursday evening, 26th May – within the scope of the 24h Race – several spectators were injured. On the camping ground at the Adenauer Forst, a party tent caught fire. The fire-fighters were alarmed at once and extinguished the fire quickly but nonetheless, six persons had to be taken to the hospital, with another three needing ambulant treatment. Two men were flown by helicopter to hospitals in Cologne and Koblenz respectively. The spectator flown to Cologne already was allowed to leave the hospital again while the other still is getting hospital treatment. From the four persons treated in the Adenau hospital, two already were let go, too. The other two are slightly injured. None of the injured passengers was in life threatening danger at any time. The families have been informed. The tent burned down completely, a light truck was slightly damaged. According to the police, the fire was caused by improper handling with fuel and an electric generator. For the rescue and fire-fighting operations, fire engines from Adenau and the Nürburgring, five ambulances, two emergency doctors and two rescue helicopters were in action and made sure that the persons involved were attended to right away.

Provisional pole for last year’s winners

In the first qualifying session for the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race, the winners of the legendary event’s 2015 edition – Laurens Vanthoor, Christopher Mies and Nico Müller plus the team’s new signing, old hand Pierre Kaffer – secured the provisional pole. In early sessions of the session, in dry conditions, the quartet crossed the line with the Audi R8 LMS of Audi Sport Team WRT in 8:21.951 minutes, thus setting the fastest lap time, with a 1.215-second lead over their fellow Mercedes-Benz drivers racing for Twin Busch Motorsport. The gaps on the following positions were really close, with the interval between second and ninth position amounted to less than a second.

The first qualifying session for the Eifel classic was started in dry conditions bit from the second hour, the race action was hampered by partly heavy rain. A situation that offered the teams the opportunity to prepare for the changeable conditions in the forthcoming 24h race. After all, changeable conditions have been forecasted for the race itself that will be started on Saturday at 15:30hrs. Due to the rain, improving the lap times in the second half of the session proved to be possible.

1 – Vanthoor / Mies / Müller / Kaffer (Audi R8 LMS)
21:31hrs Sets the new fastest lap: 8.21,951 Min. Despite a slight drizzle!
21:50hrs Drives slowly in the Döttinger Höhe area.

2 – Leonard / Frijns / Sandström / Vervisch (Audi R8 LMS)
20:59hrs Loses it and ploughs through the meadow at the Adenauer Forst.
21:52hrs Visits the Adenauer Forst meadow a second time .

3 – Abbelen / Schmitz / Huisman / Siedler (Porsche 991 GT3 R)
20:34hrs New fastest lap: 8.29,163 minutes.
20:53hrs Patrick Huisman: “The first lap still was slightly wet and slippery but I could keep the tyres on working temperature and, consequently, the right pressure. On the second lap I could really go for it but I had a lot of traffic.”
21:04hrs Sabine Schmitz smiling on her qualifying time: “I drove extra slowly to not butcher my style of driving for the WTCC races.”
21:25hrs Stands in the pits – the brakes are changed. .
21:58hrs Technical failure in the Yokohama-S.
22:01hrs According to Klaus Abbelen the race is too heavy. His Frikadelli-Porsche 911 GT3 R was pushed into the garage. Should the weather improve, the Frikadelli-Porsche could go out again for the final obligatory lap.
22:32hrs The Porsche is standing jacked up in the garage. Klaus Abbelen: “it’s to wet out there. We had a minor failure, that’s why I pitted. Should the rain decrease we will go out again.”

5 – Stippler / Fjordbach / Mortara / Meyr-Melnhof (Audi R8 LMS)
23:20hrs Nicki Meyr-Melnhof: “We tried something in the early sessions. Then came the rain and we weren’t able to improve our lap time. But the car works fine and we were able to develop a good wet-weather setup.”

6 – Haase / Rast / Winkelhock / Stippler (Audi R8 LMS)
21:28hrs 8.23,318 minutes: new third on the time sheets, just slightly behind the fastest time of the Twin-Busch-Audi (8.23,166 minutes).
21:39hrs Team Principal Ernst Moser: “We currently aren’t taking the car to the very limit as we don’t want to take unnecessary risks, in these conditions. We word on the setup, adjust the lights for the dark – and our drivers are supposed to complete their obligatory laps.”
23:09hrs Rene Rast: “It’s difficult on the wet track. The conditions change lap by lap, and you never know how heavy the aquaplaning will be you will have to cope with in a moment. But the Audi handles well and we don’t take any risks. The fourth place we secured in the dry is a good position.”
8 – Alzen / Arnold / Götz / Seyffarth (Mercedes AMG AMG GT3)
22:27hrs Maximilian Götz: “We each complete at least one lap in the wet and the darkness to familiarise ourselves with these conditions.”

11 – Ohlsson / Bollrath / Oeverhaus / Hackländer (Audi R8 LMS)
21:37hrs The fastest lap time is disallowed due to pit-lane speeding.

12 – Klohs / Dieter Schmidtmann / Richter / Renauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
20:52hrs Schmidtmann replaces Renauer. “The first two laps were extremely wet but the third was good. At the Döttinger Höhe the track is dry. I hope we will be fast enough to make it to the Top 30 Qualifying.”
14 – Al Faisal / Gerwin / Dontje / Huff (Mercedes AMG AMG GT3)
20:13hrs Accident at the GP circuit – continues.

18 – Farfus / Krohn / Müller / Wittmann (BMW M6 GT3)
20:30hrs BMW’s DTM driver Augusto Farfus drives the first qualifying stint.
20:57hrs Driver swap: Marco Wittmann for Farfus.
21:18hrs Driver swap: Jörg Müller for Wittmann.
21:22hrs Wittmann after his two-lap stint: “Now I have completed my obligatory laps. On the first lap I was hampered by a lot of traffic but on the second it was better.”
21:57hrs Jesse Krohn prepares for replacing Müller at the wheel of the BMW M6 GT3.
22:09hrS Jörg Müller: “The conditions are as difficult as you expect them to be at the Nordschleife. There are wet sections and sections with light fog right above the track surface as the tarmac is rather warm and the rain vaporizes.”

21 – Weiss / Kainz / Krumbach / Stursberg (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
20:54hrs Is shown the so-called fried-egg flag and consequently has to pit.
21:01hr Olaf Manthey: “The position diodes apparently were mounted too low. This will be checked.”
22 – Graf / Westbrook / Catsburg / Palttala (BMW M6 GT3)
20:36hrs Klaus Graf: “It still is rather slippery and in the sections up to the Flugplatz area you have to be particularly careful. In the falling dawn detecting the wet spots is particularly difficult.”

23 – Sims / Eng / Martin / Werner (BMW M6 GT3)
22:27hrs Alexander Sims: “The conditions change from section to section. Currently it’s rather difficult out there.”
23:01hrs With 10:11.064 minutes the currently fastest car on the track.
23:26hrs Driver swap: Dirk Werner replaces Philipp Eng.
23:27hrs Philipp Eng: “It’s extremely wet out there but it was big fun.”

33 – Ziegler / Saurenmann / Schmidt (Audi R8 LMS)
22:57hr Driver swap: Saurenmann for Ziegler. Andreas Ziegler: “The vision is extremely poor but currently there aren’t many cars on the track.”

37 – Jöns / Kane / Holzer / Brück (Bentley Continental GT3)
21:05hrs Driver swap: Christer Jöns for Steven Kane.

42 – Cate / Dr. Kamelger / Turner / Guelden (Aston Martin Vantage GT8)
23:13hrs Pole for the Aston Martin in the SP8 category..

44 – Dumbreck / Henzler / Ragginger / Imperatori (Porsche 991 GT3R)
21:45hrs Peter Dumbreck: “We still try to find out how we can get faster. In these lighting conditions the slow drivers drive even slower. A fact that hampered me again and again while I tried to set a fast lap time.”

56 – Shoffner / Hill / Klaasen / Huisman (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup)
20:57hrs The team works on repairing the right rear.

88 – Alzen / Arnold / Götz / Seyffarth (Mercedes AMG AMG GT3)
20:34hrs Steal’s the Frikadelli Porsche’s pole with a 1: 8.28,259-minute lap.
20:47hrs Maximilian Götz: “The Mercedes handles well. At the beginning you had to be careful as the GP circuit still was wet. But I didn’t take any risks. We still want to qualify for the Top 30 Qualifying. We virtually have completed our setup work and only need some final touches.”

9 – Haupt / Buurman / Engel / Müller (Mercedes AMG AMG GT3)
20:51hrs Now fastest with an 8.23.553-minute lap.

100 – Edwards / Klingmann / Luhr / Tomczyk (BMW M6 GT3)
21:23hrs Martin Tomczyk: “I now have completed my two obligatory laps and we used these laps to check the car. Let’s see what we can do tomorrow in Q2.”
21:58hrs Lucas Luhr gets behind the wheel.
22:05hrs John Edwards: “My first laps this weekend – in the dark and the wet. This was rather exciting.”

101 – Henkola / Yamauchi / Sandritter / Richardson (BMW M6 GT3)
20:51hrs Braking mistake in the Dunlop Kehre – goes off into the gravel but continues without help.
20:57hrs Drives slowly In the Adenauer-Forst area.
21:11hrs Technical failure at the GP circuit.

122 – Beckmann / Strycek / Hass / Schulten (Opel Manta)
22:03hr In category SP3, featuring 10 competitors, the iconic car currently is the fastest with a 10:13.603-minute lap.

701 – Lauck / Mailleux / Bleekemolen / Laser (SCG SCG003C)
21:29hrs Has to pit after having been shown the so-called fried-egg flag.
21:40hrs The race control called the car in as its GPS eye didn’t work.
21:42hrs James Glickenhaus: “We hope for a lot of rain in the race as this would increase our chances due to the high amount of downforce we produce.”

911 – Tandy / Estre / Bamber / Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
20:17hrs Patrick Pilet, 2015 IMSA Champion, will drive the first stint for the team.
20:23hrs Patrick Pilet: “Going out in these conditions is big fun for me. I love it when it gets slightly slippery. But setting a top time will be impossible in threes conditions
20:54hrs Driver swap and ride-height check. Le Mans winner Earl Bamber for Pilet.
20:57hrs Pilet: “I didn’t take any risks and tried to familiarise myself with the circuit. The conditions are extremely difficult.”
21:14hrs Nick Tandy for Bamber.
21:27hrsd Earl Bamber: “I came right from testing in the USA to the Eifel and used my laps to adapt to the circuit. I just drove on the lower part of the GP circuit for the first time with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. . I still have to find my racing line, there.”
21:48hrs Nick Tandy: The conditions out there are changing all the time. Detecting the dry and the wet spots is really difficult. Driving on a completely wet circuit would be easier. But as we possibly will have to cope with the same situation in the race it was good that we had the chance of accustoming to them.”

912 – Lietz / Bergmeister / Christensen / Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
20:18hrs Jörg Bergmeister gets ready for the first stint.
20:29hrs Jörg Bergmeister has gone out. First of all he will run in the brakes.
20:51hrs Put stop with brakes change. Jörg Bergmeister continues.
21:22hrs Jörg Bergmeister informs via radio on oil on the track in the Adenauer Forst area.
21:37hrs Driver swap: Richard Lietz for Jörg Bergmeister
21:46hrs Jörg Bergmeister: “I completed my two obligatory laps and apart from that I focused on running in the brakes. We already are qualified for the Top 30 Qualifying and therefore there’s no need for taking any risks.”

The reigning champions once again the hunted

The reigning champions are back on top: in the first qualifying session for the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race at the Nürburgring, the four drivers racing for Audi Sport Team WRT – last year’s winners Laurens Vanthoor (BEL), Christopher Mies (Germany) and Nico Müller (SUI) who will be supported by Pierre Kaffer (Germany), this year – took the Audi R8 LMS #1 to provisional pole by crossing the line in 8:21.951 minutes. But it has to be admitted that the hunt for fast lap was hampered by heavy rain that began to fall in the second hour of the session.

“It definitely is nicer than being 35th on the time sheets,” Pierre Kaffer said when Laurens Vanthoor had set the fastest lap time. “But the competitiveness level on this year’s grid is extremely high and due to the rain, the time sheets don’t really reflect this situation. Laurens Vanthoor was the last driver to have crossed the line on a dry track and so, our rivals certainly will be able to also up the ante. At the Nordschleife it doesn’t matter if you have to cope with light or heavy rain – you always have to be careful. But it goes without saying that it’s nicer for us and the fans when it’s dry.”

Audi and Mercedes-AMG the fastest rivals
Second and third positions on the time sheets were secured by the Twin Bush Motorsport Audi R8 LMS #16 raced by Marc and Dennis Busch (Bensheim), Christian Mamerow (Waltrop) and Rene Rast (Stolzenau) who crossed the line in 8:23.166 minutes as well as Kenneth Heyer (Viersen), Sebastian Asch (Ammerbruch), Luca Ludwig (Bornheim) and Daniel Keilwitz (Villingen-Schwennigen) with the Mann-Filter-Team’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 #75 that completed the 25.378-kilometre lap on the racetrack consisting of the GP circuit and the legendary Nordschleife in 8;23.300 minutes.

When the torrential rain began to fall this meant the end for the hunt for fast lap times. On the other hand, the teams now had the opportunity to already gather experiences in these difficult conditions. On Friday morning, from 09:30 to 11:30hrs, the race action will be continued with the second qualifying session that will determine who will be the last 13 teams to join the 17 that already made it to the Top 30 Qualifying in the first three VLN rounds and the 24h Race Qualifying Race. And in the Top 30 Qualifying, on Friday evening from 19:50 to 20:30hrs, the 30 fastest teams will fight for the positions on the first 15 rows of the grid for the race on Saturday (Start at 15:30hrs) in the individual time-trial format.

The coming 24h-Race action in the ‘Green Hell’ can be followed live and at close range even by those motor-racing enthusiasts who haven’t got the opportunity to make the trip to the Eifel. RTL NITRO will cover both the Top 30 Qualifying on Friday and the entire race live – the latter in a 26-hour non-stop coverage. Furthermore, everything important on the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race including live timing, live ticker and video streams from 13 different perspectives at www.24h-rennen.de.

Black Falcon the quickest in the first clash

On Thursday afternoon, the protagonists of the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race went out for the first time to complete their preparations. In brilliant sunshine at the 25.378-kilomtere Nordschleife, the AMG-Team Black Falcon’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the drivers Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman, Maro Engel and Dirk Müller crossed the line in 8:20.018 minutes, thus setting the fastest lap time of the session. The lead over the second-placed Haribo Racing Team-AMG – also Mercedes-Benz – amounted to 2.118 seconds. Third place on the time sheets was secured by the Audi R8 LMS of Montaplast by Land Motorsport. The fastest works Porsche, (#912 of Manthey Racing) finished seventh, the best BMW was the Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 #22 in 12th position.

The first qualifying session will begin at 20:00hrs and end late in the night at 23:30hrs but only the Top 30 Qualifying on Friday evening, from 19:50hrs, will determine the positions on the first 15 rows on the grid.

6 – Haase / Rast / Winkelhock / Stippler (Audi R8 LMS)
16:49hrs Christopher Haase: “We use the practice session to keep on improving the car and working on the setup. But over the years it became a kind of usual that you start pushing as early as in this session.”

9 – Haupt / Buurman / Engel / Müller (Mercedes AMG AMG GT3)
17:31hrs Dirk Müller: “Maro Engels will complete the final laps for us. In the qualifying session we still have to secure the blue light for the Top 30 Qualifying. Apart from that we will focus on the preparations for the race.”
17:34hrs As comparison: the fastest lap time of today – 8:20.018 minutes – still is about 10 seconds slower that the pole time and lap record for this track version set by Kevin Estre in 2014: 8:10.921 minutes.

11 – Ohlsson / Bollrath / Oeverhaus / Hackländer (Audi R8 LMS)
16:52hrs Driving slowly in the Schwalbenschwanz area.
17:01hrs Reason for the limited speed: a tyre puncture at the right front wheel. .

23 – Sims / Eng / Martin / Werner (BMW M6 GT3)
17:18hrs Philipp Eng: “In the early stages we drove only on the GP circuit as we still had to execute some checks on the car. This was the scheduled approach. I’m just back from my first two laps on the Nordschleife. The huge crowd that is already here is pure madness. There was a lot of traffic at the GO circuit but it was okay on the Nordschleife.”

24 – Gassner / Strauß / Coronel / Still (Nissan GT-R Nismo GT3)
17:35hrs Technical failure short before the Klostertal area.

25 – Zoechling / Konrad / Farnbacher / Stolz (Lamborghini Huracan GT3)
16:52hrs Spins in the Ravenol-Kurve area.

67 – Bugs Bunny / Kvitka / Scholze / Schiller (Porsche 991 GT-3 MR)
17:22hrs technical failure and is pushed off the track in the GP-circuit area.
17:25hrs Continues.

77 – Hertenstein / Preacher / Lungstrass (Aston Martin Vantage V8)
16:46hrs Stops due to technical problems at the exit of the Ford-Kurve.

911 – Tandy / Estre / Bamber / Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
16:03hrs The team practices changing the brakes. Kevin Estre stays behind the wheel.
16:19hrs The Porsche stands in the garage, with the team working on the setup.

912 – Lietz / Bergmeister / Christensen / Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
16:34hrs Driver change: Richard Lietz for Michael Christensen.
16:37hrs Michael Christensen: “Our 911 GT3 R handles well. Everything works as it should.”
16:55hrs Driver swap: Jörg Bergmeister for Lietz.

Welcome press-conference quotes

During the welcome press conference of the 44th ADAC Zurich 24h Race, last year’s winner Nico Müller (Audi) as well as Marco Wittmann (BMW), Thomas Jäger (Mercedes-AMG) and Martin Ragginger (Porsche) answered the questions of the media representatives and looked ahead to the things to come.

Nico Müller (Audi): “I already completed a Nordschleife lap on a bicycle and detected a lot of Swiss flags and heard a lot of Swiss voices while doing so. The race also is very popular in my home country and the reason is clear: it has got a unique atmosphere and represents a huge party for the fans. And we drivers hope to be able to entertain them appropriately. This year’s race definitely will be contested on an extremely high level, thus providing a lot of action and excitement for the fans. When it comes to the reliability it certainly won’t be a disadvantage that we already contested one or two 24h races, with our car. We are very confident, already know the car very good and know that it is fast. It will be a very close race with enthralling battles. That’s what we are looking forward to. At Audi, we drivers may mention our preferences although there are quite a lot of factors that have to be considered regarding the driver choice for the 24h Race. Quite obviously, it is an advantage if you have got some Nordschleife experience under your belt. These guys are slightly favoured. I feel really honoured that I was offered the chance of being part of the project last year and the fact that I also made it to the driver line-up for the 2016 edition is even nicer.”

Marco Wittmann (BMW): “Coming to the Nordschleife always is great. It’s something special, a true classic. The competitiveness on the grid is high, the racing will be really close and so, we have to face a true challenge. The weather conditions also arguably will be extremely difficult, thus making the race even more thrilling. Just getting behind the wheel and pressing the pedal to the metal won’t be enough. It also is important to help enhancing the car. We have reached a good performance level and in the third VLN round we proved that this is the case. I’m very confident – but with a little question mark regarding the 24h Race. With a new car there always is a dose of uncertainty but we are fast. We will race to win.”

Thomas Jäger (Mercedes-AMG): “Yesterday when I arrived I realised that a lot of fans already are on site. I expect a thrilling race as all the brands will be strong. The top cars are delivering on the same competitiveness level and all the driver line-ups feature extremely good drivers. I think the drivers will be a key factor in this race. But of course you also need a good team. A team has to well deliberate about weather it should sign a driver or not. After all, it takes not only pace but also routine if you want to succeed. We have got a rather good mix of fast DTM drivers and experienced endurance-racing experts. To make the lives of the different customer teams easier, we at Mercedes-AMG opted for supporting the teams with some of our guys.”

Martin Ragginger: “We are the only team contesting the race on Falken tyres and so, the tyres and the tyre development were an important factor during our preparation. But I think we are on a good way and succeeded in making consistent progress, over the course of the VLN rounds and the qualifying race. The switch from the 997 to the 991 also represented a big step. The car is better in every respect, from the brakes through the acceleration to the grip level. We can be happy with the entire development and even more so as we had the opportunity to compare our performance with the one of the works Porsches all the time. I also have to say a huge thank you to Porsche who are really supporting us a lot. I don’t care about the Balance of Power – I just get behind the wheel and go for I as that’s what I can do. The car is a really huge step forward but the others also are strong. Therefore, making it to the top five would represent a top result for us.”