Smudo vs. World Champions ad Le Mans winners

The ADAC Zurich 24h starting grid traditionally resembles a Who is Who of the motor-racing world. Current DTM aces vs. stars from the past. Le Mans winners, World Champions and Ex-F1 aces make for an international air. And in addition to all these top-class motor racers the field also features fast celebrities, such as Smudo, rapper of ‘Die Fantastischen Vier’ or Carlos Tavares, the Chairman of the PSA Group and consequently also Opel boss these days. Please find below some of the top stars and celebrities on the ADAC Zurich 24h Race grid.

Earl Bamber (#911)
The Porsche works driver from New Zealand won the 2015 24h Race with Nico Hülkenberg and Nick Tandy to add a second Le Mans win and his first WEC title to his tally.

Romain Dumas (#911)
Porsche’s jack of all trades. He contests everything from Le Mans through the Dakar to Pikes Peak – and wins more often than not. The Frenchman is two-time Le Mans winner, World Endurance Champion and four-time 24h-Race winner.

Connor De Phillippi (#99)
Last year’s winner switched to another brand. The US-American tries to repeat the success he celebrated last year with Land Audi as BMW works driver in a Rowe BMW.

Maro Engel (#4)
The Ex-DTM driver currently mainly races in Formula E. In 2015 he won the 24h Race, in 2014 and 2015 the FIA GT World Cup in Macau.

Augusto Farfus (#102)
BMW’s DTM driver is a regular on the 24h-Race grid. In 2010 he was the first Brazilian to win the prestigious race and he always is among the fastest at the Nordschleife.

Marcel Fässler (#25)
The Swiss is three-time Le Mans winner and was the World Endurance Champion in 2012 – but still is waiting for his first triumph in the Eifel.

Daniel Juncadella (#47)
After a one-year break the fast Spaniard is back in DTM, this year.

Nicola Larini (#831)
49 F1 races, but to the German motor-racing enthusiasts the 54-year old Italian mainly is known due to his successful days with Ala Romeo in DTM where he won the 1993 title.

Andre Lotterer (#17)
Former F1 test driver (one GP) but first of all three-time Le Mans winner and 2012 World Endurance Champion.

Lucas Luhr (#2)
Successes in the ALMS, in the 24h Races at Daytona, Spa and twice at the Nürburgring. Furthermore he was the 2011 FIA GT Champion.

Edoardo Mortara (#47)
The Italian born in Geneva currently races for Mercedes in DTM but also is really quick in GT cars. Multi-time winner in Macau.

Jörg Müller (#100)
The only driver who won in Macau both with a F3 single-seater and a touring car. 1996 Formula 3000 European Champion and Formula One test driver for several years. Two-time winner at the Nürburgring.

Rene Rast (#1 und #8)
It took Rast a long time to make it to DTM – but then, in 2017, he won the title in his debut season.

Mike Rockenfeller (#24)
Has been racing for Audi in DTM since 2007. Won the title in 2013. 2006 winner in the Nürburgring 24h Race, 2010 in Le Mans.

Bernd Schneider (#190)
DTM Record Champion (five titles). 1997 GT World Champion and has got 24h-race wins at the Nürburgring, Spa and in Dubai under his belt.

Smudo (#320)
The successful musician (Die Fantastischen Vier) is an enthusiastic hobby racing driver who opts for a sustainable and eco-friendly approach.

Volker Strycek (#120 und #202)
With 40 starts, the first DTM Champion (back in 1984) and long-term Opel Motorsport Director is the 24h Race record entrant. In 2003, he finished the race as winner. In his 41st 24h Race, Strycek once again will drive two cars: the iconic Manta and a KTM X-Bow.

Carlos Tavares (#119)
As Chairman of the PSA Group, the Portuguese is one of the most influential managers in the automotive world – but also a fast racing driver.

Martin Tomczyk (#99)
179 DTM races, seven race wins and the title in 2011. Today, the German represents the BMW colours in GT racing.

Markus Winkelhock (#24)
The son of Manfred and nephew of ‘Smoking Joe’ Winkelhock contested 49 DTM races and one F1 Grand Prix – here at the Nürburgring. Nonetheless, Winkelhock celebrated his biggest successes in GT racing – inter alia with the GT1 World Championship title in 2012 and three 24h-Race triumphs.

Balance of Performance adapted for the race

The technical committee around Norbert Kreyer opted for slightly readapting the Balance of Performance (BoP) for the 46th ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen.Following the significant time improvements of Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and Aston Martin in the Top-30 Qualifying on Friday evening, the classification for the GT´3 vehicles of BMW was altered for the race. The turbo engine of the M6 GT3 may be run with a slightly higher boost and the weight of the Audi R8 LMS may be reduced by 10kg, for the race.

As early as prior to the weekend it was agreed upon with the manufacturers involved that the committee would meet again after the Top 30 Qualifying. “We hope that we won’t be surprised in the race but we are confident,” reveals Kreyer. “We always make our decisions jointly.” The technical committee consists of three persons but the final decision is made by a five-person body that also includes the race control. To assess the competitiveness of the cars we compare parameters such as engine power, aerodynamics, efficiency, tyres, weight and top speed to then create the BoP for the 24h Race.

“We solely make our decisions based on facts, such as the lap and split times but also the qualifying race, the VLN rounds and last year’s 24h Race,” explains Kreyer. ”And while doing so we found out that BMW and Audi also improved and set their individually fastest lap times, in the Top-30 Qualifying, but couldn’t quite match the pace of Porsche and Mercedes-AMG.” The goal of the BoP is to make for the best possible balance between the manufacturers involved.

>> Further information

Action galore on and aloof from the track

The programme of the biggest race in the world does not only provide the fans with a huge dose of motor racing but also quite a lot of highlights aloof from the track. The multifaceted programme ranges from the Falken Drift Show on Friday evening at the Müllenbachschleife through the Red Bull FMX-Show that will be held there right afterwards – to the Stihl Timbersports Show contest in the historic paddock – also on Friday evening. There, the Falken drift team also wows the crowds several times a day in the Fan arena with a big stand.

“In the Falken Drift Show held on Friday evening at the Müllenbachschleife we entertain the crowds with about 20 cars and for nearly an hour with a spectacular drift show in the Dunlop Kehre. We thrill the fans on the grandstand with every conceivable kind of spectacular drifts: individual drifts, drifts with several cars in a row – or parallel drifts. But all this is just show, no competition,” says Dutchman Rohan van Riel who takes a Falken-BMW M5 to its very limits. “And we perform the same show – with four cars – from Thursday to Sunday and several times a day in the Fan Arena in the historic paddock.”

Right after the Falken Drift Show, the Red BULL FMX Show also will be held at the Müllenbachschleife. “Three FMX drivers, one of them Luc Ackermann, the reigning European Freestyle Motocross Champion, show a 15-minute freestyle programme with their motocross bikes, featuring stunning flights over two big ramps. On Saturday this programmed will be showed a second time, right before the start of the 24h race on the home straight, in front of the Mercedes stand,” says Chris Baur, the Red Bull Motorsport-Manager Germany.

Furthermore, the Timbersports sport lumberjacks will make for a lot of chopped wood in the historic paddock. “On Friday evening we hold a show contest in the Fan Arena, with the six fastest sports timberjacks battling it out with one another in six different disciplines. Furthermore, we present the fastest power saw of the world in action. It’s powered by a 290cc kart engine,” reveals Thorsten Schledorn, the Stihl Timbersports Series presenter.

Grid penalty for Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan

The Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini #10 will have to start into the race from the very end of the grid.

The Huracan GT3 was equipped with an air restrictor that didn’t meet the specifications of the latest BoP. The vehicle may contest the race, nevertheless. “We have cut the car back to the status of the old BoP,” said Team Principal Franz Konrad.

News and quotes the Top-30 Qualifying

The final round in the battle for the best positions on the grid for the ADAC Zurich 24h Race, the Top-30 Qualifying, was dominated by Porsche. Sven Müller stunned the crowds with the first lap in his Falken Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3-R but Laurens Vanthoor (Manthey Porsche) stole the pole on his second lap by being a few fractions faster. And Norbert Siedler secured third position on the grid wíth his Frikadelli Porsche.

4 – Engel / Christodoulou / Metzger / Müller (Mercedes-AMG GT3)
19:47hrs Maro Engel: “My lap was really good. I squeezed the maximum out of the car and on the first lap I made perfect use of the tyre peak. It’s a good grid position but the race will be long – and we are looking forward to it.”

7 – Martin / Sorenson / Thiim / Turner (Aston Martin Vantage GT3)
19:36hrs Nicki Thiim: “I’m really happy. We made it to the top five and that means we are among the front-runners. Being out on the Nordschleife all alone was huge fun. That’s something special for a racing driver. A dream comes true.”

10 – Di Martino / Brueck / Henkola / Konrad (Lamborghini Huracan GT3)
19:40hrs Christopher Brück: “My lap was good and I didn’t make any mistakes. I’d say that everything was perfect. I couldn’t match the front runners but that partly was caused by the car.”

24 – Winkelhock / Rockenfeller / Haase / Müller (Audi R8 LMS)
19:41hrs Mike Rockenfeller: “My lap was not too bad and doing better was impossible.”

33 – Dumbreck / Dusseldorp / Imperatori / Klingmann (BMW M6 GT3)
19:48hrs Jens Klingmann: “I’m happy with my lap. I was aware of the fact that we wouldn’t shine in the qualifying but our long runs were very consistent and that’s what will count tomorrow.”

Quotes 24h Pole Press Conference

Laurens Vanthoor / Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R #911:

“First of all: The Nordschleife is the most amazing and greatest racetrack in the world. There isn’t anything like it on the planet. And take a look at this Top-30 Qualifying… You drive like a madman and now we are on pole. This lap was the most fantastic thing I have ever done!!!
I made a small mistake on lap one but in the second I got my act together and did a virtually perfect lap. In the run-up to the race we could work with Porsche as we wanted to and that’s paying off, now. We already demonstrated in the VLN rounds one and two what we are able to do and if you had been able to check my pulse during the lap you would know that I was at the limit.”

Sven Müller / Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R #44:

“This was the absolute most amazing lap in my life,” said Porsche works driver Sven Müller after his lap in the Top-30 Qualifying for the 24h Race at the Nürburgring. The 26-year old was just 0.417 second slower than pole-sitter Vanthoor, on his lap at the 25.378km combination of the legendary Nordschleife and the GP circuit. In the afternoon, Müller had drawn the 1 in the starting-grid raffle and so, he was the first who could go out, in the 30-minute session.
“I was mega fast. I gave my very best, this was the absolute maximum,” he said proud and happy. “I used the warm-up lap top get my tyres to working temperature to be well prepared for the flying lap,” Müller revealed after the session. “I pushed like never before and it felt as if I breathed just twice, during the course of the lap. On the second lap I had nothing more to give. I was really happy when it was over.”

“Our car is good, we can be proud of it,” Müller optimistically added regarding the race and added: “Rain just is a part of the 24h Race. It just has to to make it special. Remarkable: the three Porsches on the first three positions on the grid are supplied by different tyre manufacturer. The manufacturers all are working well and highly focused. Everybody is taking their cars to the limit but in the wet, finding the limit at the Nordschleife is difficult.”

Norbert Siedler / Frikadelli Porsche 911 GT3R #31

“It wasn’t planned to come in after just one lap,” said Norbert Siedler. “we actually had planned to do two laps but the car oversteered and we realised that improving the time wouldn’t be possible.
“The fans are really great, we were out there on Wednesday evening to see what the people are doing. It’s really special and nice that we have got so many fans.
“Our opponents all are really strong. The first 15 or 16 cars are so close together – that’s really extreme. In the practice session everybody backs off slightly but tomorrow it will get serious.”

Laurens Vanthoor gives Manthey the pole

It was a true Porsche day at the ADAC Zurich 24h Race. In the Top-30 Qualifying for the main event, Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor took his Manthey Porsche #911 to pole position.
With a fantastic 8:09.105-minute lap, the Belgian clinched the pole and outqualified fellow Porsche driver Sven Müller (Falken-Porsche #44) by 0.417 seconds. Norbert Siedler completed the Porsche success by finishing third in the Frikadelli Porsche #31. The best non-Porsche driver was Maro Engel who took his Black-Falcon-Mercedes to fourth. The 46th edition of the tradition-rich race will be started on Saturday at 15:30 hrs. And 45 minutes prior to the start Vanthoor will be awarded the Glickenhaus Trophy for the fastest driver on the legendary Nordschleife.

Vanthoor prevails in the ‘Battle of the Egos’
“It was a fantastic lap. After the problems we struggled with yesterday the mechanics virtually worked throughout the night – and today the car was just fantastic. It’s just incredible to have this fantastic track for you alone and go for it without having to care for traffic. Pure madness but just marvellous,” Vanthoor raved after his amazing lap around the traffic-free 25.378-kilometre combination of Nordschleife and GP circuit. “On the first flying lap I made a minor mistake but the second was virtually perfect. Now I’m happy that it’s over. The pole is a great initial position for the opening hours – but nothing else. Today it also was – to a certain extent – a battle of the egos: the ones of the teams, the manufacturers, the tyre manufacturers and, of course, the drivers too. The race tomorrow will be long and everything can happen throughout the 24 hours. Today was fun, tomorrow things are getting serious.”

Sven Müller who had held the provisional pole at the end of lap one and was beaten by just a few fractions of a second, in the end, also was happy: “I was mega fast. The lap was rather incredible. I gave my very best, this was the absolute maximum. Being out there for these laps was big fun. I’m proud of having secured second position on the grid.” For Porsche it was the first pole since 2008 and in that year, they also won the race.

With Nicki Thiim (Denmark) who finished fifth with his Aston Martin #7 and Jesse Krohn in the Rowe-BMW #98, another two manufacturers joined Porsche and Mercedes-AMG in the top 10. “It’s so fantastic to be out there alone. That’s something really special for a racing driver – a dream come true,” said Nicki Thiim. The Wochenspiegel-Ferrari #22 followed in 11th, the best Audi was the one of the reigning 24h-Race Champions, the Audi Sport Team Land vehicle #1, in 15th position.

In the second qualifying session held in the afternoon, the hunt for the 15 positions still available for the Top-30 Qualifying was hampered by numerous accidents, resulting in Code-60 periods. So, the teams that hadn’t already qualified for the time trial, had just a few laps to do so. And one of these laps were used in the closing stage by Laurens Vanthoor who leaped to provisional pole by setting the clearly fastest lap time of the weekend and crossed the line with his Manthey-Porsche #911 in 8:14.504 minutes. Nonetheless, this time should be nuked just a few hours later.

Porsche one-two-three in the 24h Classic Race
Earlier in the afternoon, the programme featured the 24h-Classic Race. The race was won by the Porsche pairing Max Struwe and Sascha Schwalme from the Youngtimer Trophy grid that celebrated its 25th anniversary in the 24h-Race support programme. The classic drivers Daniel Schrey and Michael Kühe gave Porsche the second and third places in the three-hour race.

In the FIA Touring Car World Cup, WTCR, Sweden’s Thed Björk took his Hyundai to his second pole of the weekend and hopes to also celebrate his first win, in race two on Saturday. In race one on Thursday, he was pipped by his French team-mate Yvan Muller. Second on the grid will be Belgian Frederic Vervisch, followed by Hungary’s Norbert Michelisz.

Top-30 Qualifying starting order

In the starting order raffle for the Top-30 qualifying, the teams traditionally draw their positions themselves. The following starting positions were allotted in the raffle held in the ring°boulevard. The 30 fastest teams of the season will contest the time trials for the pole position (Friday, 19:00hrs) and for the Glickenhaus Trophy for the fastest Nordschleife driver of the year in the following order.

Qualifiziert bei
Qualified in
1#44Falken MotorsportsPorsche 911 GT3 RSven MüllerSP9Quali-Training
2#30FrikadelliPorsche 911 GT3RMatt CempbellSP924h
3#47Mann FilterMercedes-AMG GT3Daniel JuncadellaSP9VLN1
4#98Rowe RacingBMW M6 GT3John EdwardsSP9Quali-Training
5#17KÜS Team75 BernhardPorsche GT3 RMichael ChristensenSP924h
6#1Land AudiAudi R8 LMS GT3Christopher MiesSP924h
7#24Audi Sport BWTAudi R8 LMSMike RockenfellerSP924h
8#7Aston Martin RacingAston Martin VantageNicky ThiimSP9Quali-Training
9#12Manthey RacingPorsche 911 GT3 RDennis OlsenSP924h
10#911Manthey RacingPorsche 911 GT3 RLaurens VanthoorSP9VLN1
11#15Car CollectionAudi R8 LMS GT3Pierre KafferSP924h
12#31FrikadelliPorsche 911 GT3RNorbert SiedlerSP9Quali-Training
13#705Scuderia GlickenhausSCG 003cAndreas SimonsenSP9Quali-Training
14#10Konrad MotorsportLamborghini HuracanChristopher BrückSP924h
15#912Manthey RacingPorsche 911 GT3 RFred MakowieckiSP9VLN2
16#16LandgrafMercedes-AMG GT3Tristan VauthierSP924h
17#5Black FalconMercedes-AMG GT3Yelmer BuurmanSP9Quali-Training
18#99Rowe RacingBMW M6 GT3Jesse KrohnSP9Quali-Training
19#22WochenspiegelFerrari 488 GT3Jochen KrumbachSP9VLN1
20#25BWT MückeAudi R8 LMSMarcel FässlerSP924h
21#6Black FalconMercedes-AMG GT3Gabriele PianaSP924h
22#35GTronix mcchip-dkrRenault RS01Heiko HammelSP924h
23#4Black FalconMercedes-AMG GT3Maro EngelSP9VLN2
24#3Audi Sport PhoenixAudi R8 LMS GT3Frank StipplerSP924h
25#33Falken MotorsportsBMW M6 GT3Jens KlingmannSP924h
26#8Audi Sport WRTAudi R8 LMSRobin FrijnsSP9Quali-Training
27#48Mann FilterMercedes-AMG GT3Maximilian GötzSP9VLN2
28#102WalkenhorstBMW M6 GT3Augusto FarfusSP9VLN1
29#100WalkenhorstBMW Z4 GT3Peter PosavacSP924h
30#11AutoArena MotorsportMercedes-AMG GT3Raffaele MarcielloSP924h


News and quotes qualifying 2

For the major part of the second qualifying session for the 46th ADAC Zurich 24h Race, the Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 #98 held the lead – inter alia as numerous Code-60 phases prevented the field from setting fast lap times. In the closing stages of the session, however, Lauens Vanthor secured the provisional pole with the Manthey Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R #911. Rowe Racing dropped back to second position, with the Landgraf Mercedes-AMG GT3 following in third. The fastest Audi R8 LMS was the one of Audi Sport Team Land in fourth position.

12 – Klohs / Kern / Olsen / Frommenwiler (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
16:32hrs Dennis Olsen: “We probably already made it to the Top-30 Qualifying but we want to set another fast lap time – just to be 100 percent safe. I had a good stint but was hampered unfortunately by a Code-60 phase. But we should be able to now gain a few positions.”

14 – Aust / Bollrath / Saurenmann / Schmidt (Audi R8 LMS GT3)
16:44hrs Is booked for having ignored a speed limit

16 – Heyer / Asch / Sandström / Vautier (Mercedes-AMG GT3)
16:54hrs Third-fastest lap time set by Tristan Vautier: 8.18,686 minutes. This means that the Mercedes-AMG made it to the Top-30 qualifying at the very end of the session.

17 – Christensen / Cairoli / Bergmeister / Lotterer (Porsche GT3 R)
15:59hrs Der Porsche of the KÜS-Bernhard-Teams covers more kilometres than any other car of the front runners. In the two qualifying sessions so far, the 911 GT3 R completed 21 lap and holds – as best-placed Porsche – fourth position.
16:30hrs Cairoli: “The balance of the car is good and we are among the fastest. Driving here is huge fun. We hope for a position at the front end of the grid but the race will be long and anything can happen, at the Nürburgring.”

24 – Winkelhock / Rockenfeller / Haase / Müller (Audi R8 LMS)
16:03hrs Team Principal Peter Mücke: “After all the Code-60 phases we finally had the chance of setting a fast lap. But we still have to make some setup adjustments.”

25 – Mücke / Jöns / Fässler / Kaffer (Audi R8 LMS)
16:06hrs Pierre Kaffer: “Actually, the track is good but there were Code-80 phases all the time. I think the conditions are better than yesterday. So, it should be able to up the ante. I really am looking forward to the Top-30 qualifying.”

30 – Arnold / Müller / Henzler / Campbell (Porsche 911 GT3R)
15:51hrs Wolf Henzler: “Two laps at daytime – but Code 60 at the ‘Hohe Acht’ and this probably will last a while. The car was okay although I had a close encounter – two other cars arguably hadn’t realised that the Code 60 had been suspended.”

31 – Siedler / Seefried / Laser / Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3R)
15:56hrs Norbert Siedler: “Everything is fine, I just couldn’t go fast due to the Code-60 area. But we tried something regarding the setup.”

44 – Bachler / Müller / Ragginger / Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
15:30hrs Sven Müller: “I will contest the Top-30 Qualifying and want to do some laps, now, to find the perfect setup for the car. The atmosphere at the Ring is mega cool, the fans are standing at the fences and cheer for us. The loud music even can be heard in the car. This will be an amazing weekend.”

Ferrari showcase themselves in the paddock

Ferrari has been part of the ADAC Zurich 24h Race for a long time but this year, Ferrari Competizioni GT showcase themselves with a both in the paddock for the first time. And it goes without saying that the Italian sports-car manufacturer took along several true gems. Such as the current Ferrari 488 in its GT3 version, the 488 GT3.

Furthermore, the visitors also can take a close at the Ferrari 488 GTE. This car is the 488’s endurance-race version and contests in the WEC season. The third car on site is the 488 Challenge, that is used in Ferraris customer racing series (Ferrari Challenge). With their booth, Ferrari want to underline that the customer sport has got major significance for them.

News and quotes qualifying 1

In the three-hour session into the night, the Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS #1 secured provisional pole with a 8:18.914-minute lap, thus proving to be the fastest of the 150 vehicles that are about to contest the 46th ADAC Zurich 24h race at the Nürburgring. Some three tenths of a second behind the Land Audi, an AutoArena Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3 secured second position. And in the final 30 minutes of the session, the Audi Sport Team BWT Audi R8 LMS #24 passed the KÜS Team 75 Bernhard Porsche 991 GT3 R #17 for third position.

1 – Mies / van der Linde / van der Linde / Rast (Audi R8 LMS)
21:05hrs Reigning champion is the only driver to be faster than 8:19 minutes. His new fastest lap: 8:18.914minutes

2 – Jans / Böckmann / Slooten / Luhr (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
21:15hrs Loses it in the area ‘Großer Sprunghügel’, goers off to the right but avoids hitting any crash barriers

3 – Haase / Stippler / Vervisch / Müller (Audi R8 LMS GT3)
22:07hrs Frank Stippler: “We tried different tyre compounds but were hampered by the Code-60 phases. Nonetheless, our impressions gained in the VLN rounds were confirmed. I hope this will help us setting the car up for the proper set of tyres.”

11 – Assenheimer / Schmid / Bleekemolen / Marciello (Mercedes-AMG GT3)
23:38hrs Jeroen Bleekemolen: “The session start was delayed by five minutes and so we believed that it also would end five minutes later. But it didn’t. It ended exactly at 23:30 hours and this was annoying as we wanted to run in some brakes at the GP circuit.”

17 – Christensen / Cairoli / Bergmeister / Lotterer (Porsche GT3 R)
23:31hrs Jörg Bergmeister after having been replaced by Michael Christensen: “My Stint was rather unspectacular. It was just about accustoming to the conditions.

24 – Winkelhock / Rockenfeller / Haase / Müller (Audi R8 LMS)
21:13hrs Nico Müller: “This was fun. Unfortunately I hadn’t a clean lap due to a Code 60. We certainly have got more potential. In the dark the racing is even cooler as you have the impression to be faster.”
22:19hrs Markus Winkelhock: “I did my two obligatory laps and wanted to familiarise myself with the car. Now we have to go for it to qualify for the Top-30 Qualifying.”

31 – Siedler / Seefried / Laser / Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3R)
23:39hrs Weird incident for the Porsche. Norbert Siedler crosses the way of a rabbit – that loses the ‘argument’. The same applies to the 911 GT3-R’ front skirt.

41 – Dontje / Möller Madsen / He / Hofer (Audi R8 LMS GT4)
22:19hrs Phoenix Racing takes the SP8 lead: 9.05.874 minutes

44 – Bachler / Müller / Ragginger / Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
21:43hrs Dirk Werner: “Driving here in the dark is unusual for me. Last year we didn’t get that far. The track was in a good condition- Unfortunately I had to slow down due to a Code-60 period and consequently, my lap time wasn’t too good. ”

48 – Hohenadel / Dontje / Götz / van der Zande (Mercedes-AMG GT3)
22:03hrs Christian Hohenadel: “You have to adapt your style of driving to racing in the dark. For instance, the turn-in points differ as the vision is different. Driving in the dark felt great. We just have to make minimum changes on the car.”

55 – Putman / Espenlaub / Foster / Maassen (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup)
22:27hrs Technical problem in the area Hohenrain-Chicane.

57 – Hill / Shoffner / Klasen / Huisman (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup 991)
22:15hrs The quickest SP7 car: 8:44.103 minutes

59 – Berg / Hertenstein / Kodidek / Max (Porsche 991 GT3 Cup 911)
23:03hrs Spins in Veedol-Chicane area.

101 – Walkenhorst / Tresson / Oeverhaus / Ziegler (BMW M6 GT3)
21:30hrs Hits the crash barriers badly at the end of the Fuchsröhre, Car even catches fire – for a short moment. Driver Tresson out of the car – Code60.
21:46hrs Jordan Tresson is on the way to the Medical centre for a check-up. The crash obviously was caused by a collision in the Fuchsröhre depression.
22:21hrs All-clear for Jordan Tresson: he was discharged from hospital

705 – Mutsch / Mailleux / Simonsen / Westphal (SCG003c)
21:47hrs Cruises very slowly to the pits.
21:52hrs Following an extensive check, the car rejoined the race action. It arguably went over debris in the Fuchsröhre area.

911 – Estre / Dumas / Vanthoor / Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R)
22:28hrs Is pushed by mechanics into the paddock.
22:37hrs Fred Makowiecki: “We tried to use the first VLN rounds to learn to understand the car. I think we found a good setup. Due to the wet conditions in the practice session we couldn’t do too many laps. Driving in the dry is bigger fun and we now have to use the time for enhancing the car.”

Defending 24h-Race Champions on target

The first day of the ADAC Zurich 24h Race ended with the fastest lap time set by the Land Audi #1 in the Thursday-night qualifying session. The Audi R8 LMS that is raced by the defending champions Christopher Mies (Germany) and Kelvin van der Linde (South Africa) as well as their new team-mates, van der Linde’s younger brother Sheldon and DTM Champion René Rast (Germany), was the only vehicle that set a time below 8:19 minutes by crossing the line in 8:18,914 minutes. This means that they may hope for securing one of the still available 14 positions for the Top-30 qualifying session and one of the coveted blue lights in qualifying two (Friday, 14:55 to 16:45hrs). The time trials of the 30 fastest cars for the pole position will be held from 19:00 to 19:40hrs and represents the highlight of the Friday action.

Land-Audi benefits from a traffic-free track
“I’m rather happy. We went out early and therefore we were lucky and had a free track,” revealed Kelvin van der Linde who contested the final stint, last year, thus taking the chequered flag as race winner. Nonetheless, the team won’t rest on its laurels, stresses the South African. “After all, the lap times certainly will be improved if it doesn’t rain tomorrow afternoon,” added his team-mate Mies who set the fastest time in the Thursday-night session and revealed in the press conference on Thursday afternoon that he hoped – despite the not too promising weather forecasts – for dry conditions. “The Nordschleife in the wet is tricky and adds to the excitement. A fact that also represents a challenge for the tyre manufacturers.”

Second and third positions on the time sheets were claimed by the AutoArena-Mercedes #11 and another R8, the #24, entered by Audi Sport Team BWT. Altogether there still are 14 positions for the Top-30 Qualifying available and consequently, the action on Friday promises to be extremely thrilling. The fastest of the 16 cars already qualified was the Manthey-Porsche #912 in 10th position.

Flat out right from the start

The preparations for the 46th edition of the Nordschleife classic are virtually completed. Teams, cars – and the drivers too – are ready to charge through the ‘Green Hell’ in the 46th edition of the 24h classic from Saturday, 15:30hrs. But before the starting lights will go green, the competitors will have to go for it in the qualifying sessions. In the run-up to the race, four popular drivers talk about their preparations and describe what turns the race at the Nürburgring into a special motor-racing highlight.

The weather as unpredictable component
“The Nordschleife is tricky in the wet,” explains Christopher Mies who will race for the reigning champions who will contest the race with the car #1. “The weather adds to the excitement for teams, drivers and tyre manufacturers,” adds Mies who prefers to race on a dry track at about 25° C. As the conditions in the 24h Race usually tend to be wet, the proper tyre choice for the respective point in time is vital, underlines Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon’s Maro Engel. ”The Eifel weather turns the 24h race into an exciting and unique event. A true acid test for man and machine,” says Engel who will race a Mercedes-AMG GT3.

The smallest mistake can cost you dearly
“We try to prepare the car perfectly,” reveals Martin Tomczyk who will represent the Team Rowe Racing colours GT3 in the race held at the 25.378-kilometre combination of Nordschleife und GP circuit with a BMW M6 GT3. ”Coming back to the Nürburgring is a big pleasure and we hope to be able to demonstrate what can be achieved. We expect spectacular race action and the GT3 field to be well balanced.” Rowe Racing have been cooperating with BMW for several years and equipped the M6 with a new aero package, in the off-season. “We can be really happy and hope to be able to prepare the car perfectly.”

The goal: to secure a good grid position in the qualifying sessions
Falken Motorsports is one of five teams that will contest the race with Porsche-GT3 vehicles. Dirk Werner drives the Falken Porsche #33 and is confident: “We achieved good results, so far. The preparations for this year’s 24h Race also went well and our performance is really good.” It’s crucial, adds Werner, to secure the best possible result in the qualifying sessions. “It will be difficult if you don’t make it to the top 15 positions on the grid.”

This Thursday at 20:30hrs things will get serious with the night-qualifying session for the 24h Race. On Friday, the second qualifying session will begin at 14:55hrs and on 19:30hrs, the fight for the grid positions will climax in the Top-30 Qualifying.

Sports-Car World Champion plays an unfamiliar part

Porsche also are among the top favourites in the battle for this year’s ADAC Zurich 24h-Race crown. One of the spearheads of the Zuffenhausen based manufacturer is the team of 24-Race record winners, Manthey Racing, The team from the Eifel won the race five times an each of these wins was secured with Timo Bernhard being one of the drivers. This year, however, Bernhard returns to the Eifel as Team Principal. After 12 appearances as driver he is back in the Eifel with his KÜS Team 75 – but this time he will stay at the other side of the pit wall.

Timo Bernhard is back after a multi-year break and while coming back must feel like coming home, for the record winner, it will be a premiere for his team, KÜS Team 75. “I think it’s important that I’m at the helm,” says the German. “We have got a great driver line-up and so, I can provide the team maximum support. I also played this part in the Spa 24h Race.”

Motor-racing superstar: Two World-Championship titles and two Le Mans wins
When the moment arrived for Bernhard to ask himself: “Should I get behind the wheel or not?” it was not difficult for him to do without getting back behind the wheel. After all, the 2013 24h Race was the last had contested as driver and so, the temporal distance seemed to be big enough. In the years after 2013, the German was involved into the extremely successful Porsche Le Mans and World Sports Car Championship programme to an extent that he had to set his other activities aside. 2015 and 2017 World Champion, Le-Mans winner 2017 – and another one in 2010 with Audi: Bernhard is one of the motor-racing super stars. And although he raced the most sophisticated racing cars all over the world his heart still beats for the Nordschleife. “I was at the Nordschleife a few days ago and drove myself,” he reveals laughing. “Now I’m happy to have made the decision not to drive. Otherwise, making this decision definitely would have been more difficult.”

“Perfect timing also is crucial when it comes to the preparations“
Bernhard’s vast Nordschleife experience also was extremely important during the preparation weeks. “I attach major importance to the preparations,” explains the German. “Furthermore, we try to simulate different scenarios, I know, you can’t prepare for everything that can happen in the 24h Race but I had to cope with quite a lot of incidents. Furthermore, a good preparation makes you feel better.” The Nordschleife remains something special for him. “The circuit is unique and the regulations differ from the ones of other events, such as Spa or GT Masters. Here, many details and the timing are crucial and this also applies to the preparations. Therefore, the experience of my 13 appearances on the 24h grid can be important.” Nonetheless, Manthey’s goals are modest:”We haven’t set ourselves the goal to achieve a certain result. We want to have a clean, trouble-free race and achieving this will be difficult enough.”

That’s new in the 2018 24h Race

Typical 24h Race: Every year, the organisers come up with new innovations that are supposed to make the race even more attractive, more thrilling or cooler for the fans. And so, the 2018 race also is accompanied by quite a number of alterations. Some of them are basically simple but make for major progress, nevertheless. Please find below some of these changes.

Who is fast? Top-speed recordings at the Nordschleife
The installation of split-time checkpoints at the Nordschleife some years ago represented a major step forward for the race action at the Nordschleife. Since then, it’s far more transparent for teams and drivers which car is gaining or losing time in which sector. Now, these measurements have been made even more precise. Several metres before the checkpoints, new speed loops have been installed. Therefore, even the top speeds can be recorded at these points. Also planned for the 24h Race: an additional checkpoint at the end of the Döttinger Höhe. It may sound simple but represents a major technical effort – and will serve an important purpose: the data are necessary for determining the Balance of Performance, where the data analysis relies on more and more individual values.

Who is sitting at the wheel? Driver-ID
This innovation also sounds simple but represents a massive effort in a 600-driver field. From 2018, the cars have to be equipped with an additional transponder that transfers the ID of the driver just racing the car. During a driver switch the team has to press a small button in the cockpit and the signal is changed to the one of the driver who is going to drive the next stint. This driver-ID will be recorded by the time keepers every time the car crosses the finish line. This move does not only make the time sheets far more transparent but also will help to survey minimum break times and driving proofs, in the future.

Starting grid: homage to the endurance classic
The acid test already has been contested: the 24h Race will get a new starting grid. As early as on the grid for the 24h Race qualifying race, the first 30 cars didn’t stand staggered on the grid but individually, side by side and diagonal to the driving direction. A special sight and reason for a goose-bump moment – and even more so when the entire Nürburgring temporarily stops breathing during the National Anthem, before the fields rockets away to battle it out to the max twice around the clock. The grid was borrowed by the grand endurance-racing classic Le Mans and represents a small bow of the German 24h race to the French sports-car legend. Incidentally, this starting format also is well-known elsewhere: “I have known this kind of starting grid from the USA and therefore, I am particularly delighted that it now also will be commemorated by the Nürburgring,” said BMW-driver Martin Tomczyk.