Warm-up for the Nordschleife thriller

The battle for the best grid positions at the ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring has begun: In the first two qualifying sessions of the weekend, the almost 130 teams started the hunt for the best times in changeable weather. While for the majority of the teams it was already about the pre-decisive grid positions in the 25 different classes, this first day of the endurance classic was primarily a warm-up for the first big showdown for the fastest GT3 cars of the day. This is because they will be battling for grid positions on the front rows in top qualifying late on Friday afternoon from 17:30 – 15 high-calibre GT3 cars will then fight for the five remaining places in the decisive Top Qualifying 2, before the final battle for pole starts: a dramatic climax to a day full of attractions and thrilling racing action. If you want to be there, you can get your ticket on site at the Nürburgring at the open ticket offices and at all entrances to the spectator areas on the Nordschleife. Even if you stay at home, you won’t miss anything: there is an info centre with live timing, ticker and detailed live stream at www.24h-rennen.de/live.

Dan Harper, who set the fastest time in the RMG-BMW #72 in the first qualifying session and improved it again in the second qualifying session, set the clearest exclamation mark in qualifying: His 8:17.236 minutes on Thursday were significantly faster than his rivals’ times. “It’s going quite well for us,” said the Briton happily, “We set the fastest lap, but its value is obviously limited. The conditions today were really challenging. On my fastest lap, the track was largely dry, but there were treacherous, slippery spots, especially where the rain has washed mud onto the track. In Q1, we concentrated on our mandatory laps, which every driver has to complete. In Q2, the focus was then more on putting in a few fast laps. In four GT3 starts at the 24h, I’ve yet to finish – that’s why this is the most important task for me. We’ve shown in the past that we’re really fast and I believe that if we finish the race, we can finish well up front.” The class leader set a clear time with his best time along the way: The second-placed brand colleagues in the Rowe-BMW #98 and the Mercedes-AMG #11 from Schnitzelalm-Racing only cracked the 8:21 mark on the 25.378 km circuit. What all three of the fastest drivers in practice have in common is that they are not yet guaranteed a grid position in Top Qualifying 2, where the best grid positions will be allocated on Friday.

Excitement ahead of Friday’s top qualifying
At the longest race of the year on the longest race track in the world, the position in qualifying is even more decisive for the position in the race than anywhere else. Accordingly, many of the more than 500 drivers competing in the ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring were tense – especially in the numerous vehicle classes, the preliminary decisions are made in the two Friday qualifying sessions, after which there is only a short third qualifying session on Friday afternoon.

The direction of travel in the GT3 class, which is capable of overall victory, was completely different, with the teams focusing on a concentrated testing and set-up programme. After all, the weather on the Nordschleife this weekend has been changeable and damp or wet, unlike in the preparation races. Slippery sections of the track therefore caused a number of slips with Code 60 phases, which often prevented fast laps. In addition, there was heavy rainfall in the second half of Qualifying 1, which meant that the best laps were more like scent markers for the two-part individual time trial on Friday, after which the polesitter and his pursuers will be decided.

Numerous highlights attract fans to the Ring
The programme on and off the race track is particularly full again this year at the 24h Nürburgring – no wonder that many fans have not been put off by the rather mixed weather forecasts and are enjoying the season highlight on the Nordschleife to the full. This is especially true from Friday onwards: Attractive support races, especially on the Grand Prix circuit, alternate with shows, autograph sessions and even a world premiere at the presentation of the new VW Golf GTI Clubsport on the covered ring°boulevard in the afternoon are on the programme. The evening will be particularly atmospheric and highly entertaining for visitors: after the spectacular top qualifying session, the pit lane and the home straight will open on the Grand Prix circuit. From 7.45 pm, visitors will be able to take a pit and track walk on the world-famous tarmac and meet the 24-hour teams in person at the big autograph session. At the same time, there will be hot tyres, smoky driving skills and full-throttle fun at the Falken drift show in the Müllenbachschleife. Here, too, many fans will spend an atmospheric evening from 20:00. The entire fan programme, timetables and visitor information can be found on the official homepage at www.24h-rennen.de.