The race of the year at the Nürburgring

The same procedure as every year: the 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h Race once again will be the race of the year, for the visitors. And as usual, this title – awarded in the reader poll of an internet portal – suits the event perfectly. After all, the spectators that make the trip to the legendary Nürburgring Nordschleife will be provided from 26th to 29th June four days of enthralling action. Some 160 vehicles on the 24h-race grid will battle it out for the prestigious win in the greatest race of the year, with about three dozen of them having to be regarded as serious race-win contenders. The stunning GT3 vehicles entered by Audi, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche meet the challenge represented by the international competition: among them super cars entered by Aston Martin, Bentley, Lamborghini, Lexus and Nissan or the spectacular Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus prototypes. Never ago, the 24h-race featured such a top-class field and so, making a prediction regarding the outcome is more difficult than ever. Furthermore, the World Touring Car Championship, WTCC, will contest two championship rounds on Saturday noon 28th May), thus providing the crowds another special highlight prior to the 24h-race start.

With a one-two-three in the third round of the 2016 Endurance Championship Nürburgring, VLN, held two weeks prior to the 24h race, BMW underlined their ambitions to become a major force in the battle for the win in the endurance classic. In this final acid test prior to the season highlight, three BMW M6 GT3 racers and their-top-class driver line-ups made for a podium lock-out – and for a lot of happy faces in the BMW camp. Afterwards, Jörg Müller – who won the race together with 2014 DTM-Champion Marco Wittmann and Finland’s Jesse Krohn – was beaming and talked about “A perfect race.” With this triumph, the BMW teams secured the first VLN race of the brand-new car.  “Making it to the podium always is great„” said former DTM Champion Martin Tomcyk, “Although this wasn’t one of our main priorities in this preparation race.” The German contested the race together with Lucas Luhr and John Edwards (USA) to finish second, in the end. “We wanted to optimally prepare for the season highlight and the final test went really well for us. Now we are curious to find out in the 24h race where we are standing compared to our opponents.”

Well-balanced situation in the preparation races
The careful scepticism of the BMW drivers seems to be justified. After all, other competitors also succeeded in shining, in the preparation races. Two of the VLN rounds were won by an Audi R8 LMS and in the Qualifying Race 24h Race, the Mercedes AMG Teams HTP and Haribo celebrated a one-two. Always close behind were the Porsche teams, with reigning World Endurance GT Champions being the spearhead. They will contest the 24h classic with two 911 GT3 R on behalf of Porsche. For the fans, this virtually favourite-less situation means that they may look forward to a particularly thrilling race in the Green Hell.

What a programme: attractions galore from Wednesday to Sunday (all the times CEST)
On Wednesday, 25th May, even before the motor racing programme gets going, the visitors will be provided a first highlight: from 16:00hrs, fans and competitors will meet during the Adenauer Race Day, held  in the heart of Adenau. And with a special permit, numerous vehicles of different competitors also will drive in a parade from the circuit down to Adenau’s city centre. And from Thursday, it’s time for the days of thunder at the Nordschleife. Highlights of the day are the first practice session, from 15:4hrs) and the night qualifying (from 20:00hrs) for the 24h race. And on Friday, the grid positions will be determined. Following the second qualifying session in the morning one will know which competitors made it to the Top 30 Qualifying, the spectacular time-trial session at the Nordschleife that will determine the positions on the first 15 rows on the grid.  And in the afternoon, at 12:45hrs, the WTCC racers will battle it out for the grid positions. In the evening, the crowds will be wowed by the Stihl Timbersports Show in the Fan Arena (Historic paddock) and the Falken Drift Show in the Müllenbachschleife. If you don’t want to miss any bit of the Saturday action you have to get up early in the morning. The day will begin with the 24h-race warm up (08:15hrs) that will be followed by the two WTCC races (from 11:25hrs). And at 15:30hrs, the 24h race will be started.

Glickenhaus-Trophy for the fastest lap on the legendary Nordschleife

The Nordschleife and the ADAC Zurich 24h Race are birth attendants for legends: here, myths are born while drivers, team members, fans and organisers again and again fall for the magic of the legendary ‘Green Hell’. In the future, those who achieved something special at this unique motor-racing venue will be honoured with a special reward: from 2016, the ‘Glickenhaus-Trophy’ will be awarded as challenge cup year by year to the driver who proved to be the fastest of the fastest – but has to be returned to then be awarded to next year’s fastest of the fastest. That driver who set the fastest Nordschleife lap time in the respective Top-30 Qualifying for the 24h-race.

The trophy has been donated by James Glickenhaus who has fallen for the special magic of the circuit and its greatest race many years ago. With his Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, the American car collector is contesting the race himself in the SP-X category with three beautiful prototypes. “If you are coming to the Nürburgring and walk to the paddock, you are standing in front of a wall with names and that’s the moment when you realise that you are entering sacred ground,” he says, “It is a very special and wonderful place.” He appreciates the special regulations that allow for thrilling battles between different types of vehicle. “Here, we as a small Italo-American team have the chance of competing with manufacturers tat can look back on an incredible tradition and history. We are so lucky that the organisers created these regulations.”

Award ceremony within the framework of the Top 30 Qualifying
To honour those men who meet the challenge represented by the most difficult racetrack in the world, Glickenhaus donated the trophy on which the driver who secured the pole and his lap time will be engraved, from this year. A move that was enthusiastically welcomed by the race organisers, ADAC North Rhine. “This idea says a lot about the outstanding attractiveness of both the race and the circuit,” says Race Director Walter Hornung. “We embraced the idea with delight and are happy about this initiative.” To underline the meaning of the new trophy and stimulate the drivers for their crucial kilometres, the Glickenhaus-Trophy will be showcased prior to the Top 30 Qualifying. When Walter Hornung waves his flag so send the drivers out for their two flying laps, the trophy will be placed on a special podium at the home straight. And right after the Top 30 Qualifying, within the framework of pole-position press conference, the winner will be presented with the trophy by James Glickenhaus himself.

The Nordschleife: Racing without Limits

The shock was big and the measures were drastic: in 2015, the racing at some sections of the Nordschleife was partially slowed down by speed limits that were introduced in the 2015 qualifying race. These speed limits became necessary due to a massive crash in the 2015 VLN season opener that questioned the safety of both competitors and spectators at the Nordschleife. Consequently, the German motor-sport authority DMSB opted – in cooperation with the VLN and 24h-race organisers – for extensive instant measures. Measures that made sure that holding motor-racing events at the longest, most beautiful and most challenging circuit of the world remained possible at all. And now – exactly a year later – many decisions have been realised: new regulations, new requirements that have to be met by drivers and vehicles respectively, rebuilding measures at the track, additional safety facilities: all this makes sure that the 24h qualifying race again can be held without speed limits in force.

In the past year, several task forces developed the measures that now come into force and rarely in the past, so many parties worked on the regulations of a motor-racing venue. “The package was based on a process many experts were involved in,” confirms DMSB President Hans-Joachim Stuck, who does not only know the Nordschleife as former racing driver like the back off his hand but also loves it. “The DMSB experts cooperated with the circuit operators, the series and race organisers, representatives of the Nürburgring track safety, driver representatives and manufacturers to make use of as much know-how as possible and find a broad agreement at the same time. And we achieved the joint goal to make motor racing at the Nordschleife safer without reducing the attractiveness of the races for drivers or visitors.” Among the results are – first of all – the improvement of the visitor safety in different track sections and a significant performance reduction of the top vehicles. Furthermore, the driving regulations also were modified.

Additional safety zones at the Nürburgring
As early as in autumn 2015, the excavators arrived at the Norisring. As soon as the last racing car had left the track, the measures developed by the circuit operator in cooperation with the safety experts and agreed upon with the circuit commission of the World Motor Racing Association, FIA, were realised. By doing so it was made sure that track license also remains valid for top categories such as the GT3 class. These measures comprised – in addition to the elimination of bumps – the installation of additional safety zones as well as of additional crash barriers and FIA fences at certain spots. “Racing on the Nordschleife still is big fun – even after the modifications,” said Dirk Müller (Mercedes-AMG GT3). “The new section at the airport is not half bad. It was turned into a truly challenging corner. Completely different than before the modification Currently, the grip is limited, there, but this will change over the course of the coming races. And the angle of the plateau up there was changed.”

Vehicles: thrilling sport despite performance limitation
Meanwhile, a task force that comprised – inter alia – the ADAC technology experts and representatives of the car manufacturers targeted the performance of the cars racing in the top categories. In the classes SP7, SP-9/GT3, SP-Pro and SP-X, the engines’ horsepower output will be reduced by 10 percent compared to the beginning of the 2015 season. At the same time, the aerodynamics of these cars also will be limited. These measures comprise the air vents in the front wheelhouses and the definition of a minimum ride height. The attractiveness of the cars, however, isn’t reduced by these measures. During the VLN season kick-off, the motor-racing enthusiasts witnessed thrilling motor sport without speed limits – and the drivers also were delighted. “It’s great that the speed limits are history,” said – for instance – Maro Engel. The 2015 FIA GT Champion von 2015 underlines what worried many drivers and fans. “Quite obviously, a racetrack and speed limits are antithesis per se and I’m convinced that all the drivers are happy about their abolition. A big praise for all those involved. The changes proved their worth in the VLN season opener and we may look forward to a fantastic 24 Race.”

‘Nordschleife license’ will be revised
In 2015, the conditions at the Nordschleife that are unique in global endurance racing resulted in the introduction of the ‘DMSB Permit Nordschleife’ (DPN) – a kind of driving license featuring a multi-step structure for different kinds of events. The basic principle – advancement to a higher category only following the proof of a certain dose of experience – now was refined. Exceptions for the entry categories on the one hand and the professional racing drivers on the other were clearer defined. “We defined clearly more detailed than in the past which preconditions are necessary for a driver to obtain the steps A and B of the Permit,” said DMSB President Stuck. “For all those involved it was important that every racing driver – no matter if beginner or experienced – has to intensively come to grips with the special Nordschleife conditions. The big number of cars, the different performance levels of the different categories, the unique track layout and last but not least the signals in the case of dangerous situations: every driver has to prove that he is well informed on these special characteristics.” To achieve this goal, the DMSB Academy installed a free E-learning tool every licensee has to use to prepare for racing at the most difficult racetrack in the world.

Drivers develop new Code-60 regulations
Should an accident have occurred at the Nordschleife, the marshals are showing the code-60-signal during the rescue and cleaning-up works. Compared to the previous practice, the regulations have significantly been changed. From 2016, double waived yellow flags mean a maximum speed of 120kph. In the cases where the safety-car would go out on other circuits, the marshals show the yellow flag and in addition a code-60 flag: this means 60kph. The green flag annuls speed limits and overtaking bans. This two-step speed-limit system is supposed to reduce the risk of rear-end collisions and at the same time, the number of Code-60 zones is clearly reduced as Code-60 only is activated when marshals are busy on the track or the circuit is really blocked. Like his colleagues, Frank Stippler (Audi R8 LMS) got to know the new regulations during the first VLN round and confirms: “The new Code-60 regulations with the two-step speed reduction is really good. Now you haven’t to decelerate from top speed to 60 kph right away but decelerating to 120kph is enough, for the beginning.”

The 24h prologue lures teams, drivers and fans to the Nordschleife

In the run-up to the ADAC Zurich 24h Race held on the Corpus Christi weekend, the teams now are entering the hot phase of the preparations for the prestigious event: for the teams, the season opener of the Endurance Championship Nürburgring, VLN, represented the first clash and just two weeks later, they now are about to contest the next test in race conditions. The ADAC Qualifying Race 24h Race (16th to 17th April, 2016) provides teams and drivers more than nine hours of track time – including the six-hour race – on the legendary Nordschleife. In the season opener Audi proved to be in great form: the one-two of the Phoenix Audis R8 LMS represented a clear sign for the competition: the brand that won last year’s 24-h Race once again represents the benchmark. But the brand-new Mercedes-AMG GT3 also is a race-win contender: Black Falcon secured the third position on the podium, in the season kick-off. In addition, competitive squads racing for BMW, Bentley and as well as exotic vehicles, such as the Scuderia Glickenhaus prototypes, will add to the excitement. Advance booking tickets for the 24h Qualifying Race can be purchased at, with the info and ticket hotline being available at +49 (0) 800 2083200 (free of charge from the German landline).

In the 24h Qualifying Race it’s not about points and therefore, teams and drivers can fully focus on preparing for the 24h Race. And with two qualifying sessions, a six-hour race as well as additional test and adjustment runs they are offered a lot of possibilities for doing so. An opportunity the top teams just can’t forego. So it comes as no surprise that the two Phoenix Audis R8 LMS that came first and second in the VLN season opener also will be involved. Audi Sport Team WRT also will enter two vehicles – they won last year’s 24h Race with a similar line-up. “I couldn’t have been happier with the car, in the season opener”, beamed Phoenix driver Frank Stippler after having won the first race in the season. “And I hope we will be able to tie in with this performance, in the 24h Race.” At the same time, ‘Stippi’ is well aware that many competitors also are keen on winning the prestigious endurance classic at the Nordschleife. “The competition will be extremely tough – just as it was the case in the recent past,” he underlines. „Mercedes and BMW are making huge efforts to shine in this event. Therefore, the battle will be fantastic.”

Maro Engel: “The competition will be tougher than ever”
And indeed, other top manufacturers also will enter new GT3 racers together with customer teams: the new Mercedes AMG GT3 made it to the podium by finishing third behind the two Phoenix Audis right away. It was the car’s only third outing at the Nordschleife but Team Black Falcon was able to prove the vehicle’s potential, nevertheless. “This year we will have to cope with a competition that’s tougher than ever,” confirms Maro Engel who finished third together with Bernd Schneider, Manuel Metzger and Adam Christodoulou. ”All the major manufacturers will be there and we will race the new Mercedes-AMG GT3. Driving the car on the Nordschleife is huge fun. We use the VLN for preparing for the 24h Race. That’s our main goal: to be a factor in the battle for the win and possibly secure the trophy for AMG.”

Competitive teams promise thrilling race action
At the 2015 IAA, BMW launched the new M6 GT3 that will be raced at the Nordschleife from 2016. The debut in the VLN season opener, however, was mediocre: Walkenhorst Motorsport finished seventh, thus securing the only top-10 result for the Bavarian manufacturer. With ROWE Racing and Walkenhorst Motorsport, two competitive squads will contest the quali race with BMW’s new GT racer. And Schubert driver Lucas Luhr is convinced: “The new BMW M6 GT3 is fast and competitive. That’s just normal when you race a new car: we haven’t covered a lot of kilometres and the Nordschleife is something very special. There are some things that still have to be sorted.” And this also applied to the VLN season kick-off: “There, a power steering failure forced us into the pits for 20 minutes. Fortunately we still have got some time – and those knowing BMW are sure: we will get a grip on it.” At the same time, the Porsche teams also didn’t quite meet the expectations, with Manthey racing, running two new 911 GT3 R, just making it to the top 10. No doubt: they also have got more potential. After all, both Porsches dropped back due to punctures. Meanwhile, Bentley Team Abt proved to be well prepared and finished sixth, in the first VLN round of the year. The Germans run the Bentley Continental GT3 for the first time, this season, and therefore, the squad needs every single kilometre of testing it can cover. Right after the first VLN race, Nissan announced to compete in both the 24h Qualifying Race and the 24h Race. The Nissans will be run – inter alia – by Team Zakspeed. And Toyota also will use the 24h Qualifying Race as preparation and will take several cars along.

A lot of excitement for the fans
But the 24h Qualifying race does not only promise excitement as the fans can witness many of the 24h Race protagonists at closest range. The action also makes straight impact on the 24h Race, as the five best placed cars of the Qualifying Race secure a position for the Top-30 Qualifying. And there’s even more for the fans, on the weekend of the Qualifying Race: simultaneously to the test and adjustment runs at the GP circuit, a regularity rally will be held at the Nordschleife. Afterwards, from noon, the RCN will start into a performance examination. The first qualifying session for the 24h Qualifying Race will take place on Saturday afternoon, the second on Sunday morning. The six-hour feature race will be started at 12:00hrs. Particularly attractive: the ticket price includes paddock access. There, the Falken power-slide artists will entertain the visitors. And from 10:50hrs, all the spectators with valid ticket may promenade along the starting grid. Tickets for the 24h Qualifying Race are available from €15 (day ticket Saturday or Sunday), with the price for the weekend ticket amounting to €25.

06th April, 2016

Extra category for TCR touring cars planned from 2016

From 2016, ADAC Nordrhein is going to announce an extra category for the new TCR touring cars for the ADAC Zurich 24h-Race (26th to 29th May) and the 24h qualifying race (16th to 17th April). This new category will be contested with racing cars that are ideal for both professional teams and weekend racers: inexpensive, rugged 320bhp cars that guarantee exciting motor racing for those involved and the fans. With this move, the organisers of the Nordschleife highlight open the grid for teams from all over the world. After all, there are numerous national and regional TCR series’ about to follow the path paved this year by the international series held according to the TCR regulations.

Marcello Lotti, CEO of WSC, the promoter company of TCR International Series, says: „It is with great satisfaction that we welcome ADAC Nordrhein’s decision to introduce a new category for the TCR cars in the ADAC Zurich 24h-Race. The simple fact that a race that is universally praised for its tradition and fascination, and which takes place on one of the most celebrated and demanding racetracks in the world, is opening the door to a brand new category is a tremendous recognition of the soundness of the TCR concept. In their maiden season, TCR cars have already proved the perfect combination of providing close and exciting sprint races with reasonable running costs. Their participation in the ADAC Zurich 24h-Race will prove that they are both reliable and have the performance to appear in long distance races as well.“

By announcing the TCR category for the 24h Race, ADAC Nordrhein abides by a long-term tradition: “We always were open for new categories and concepts,” underlines Race Director Walter Hornung, “No matter if the diesel vehicles in the 1990s or the alternative-drive concepts in the following years. In the 24h race, they all found a platform where they could test, prove and – last but not least – present themselves.” A few years later, this applied to the category that features the win contenders, today. “A short time after their definition as a category by the FIA, the GT3 cars already were allowed to also compete in the 24h race.” And now, in 2016, the year after the TCR vehicles contested their debut season in an international series, they also will be offered the chance of contesting the ADAC Zurich 24h Race. The big interest of teams and drivers in the new category doesn’t come by chance: with their price of less than €100,000, the turbo-charged 2-litre touring cars are comparatively inexpensive and very attractive, nevertheless. In addition, there is a broad range of cars available. The 2015 starting grids of the newly created International Series features the Honda Civic, Ford Focus ST, Opel Astra OPC, Seat León, Subaru STi and VW Golf. And according to the plans, they all may contest the 2016 ADAC Zurich 24h Race without any additional redesigns being necessary.

September, 23rd 2015