Turbulent starting period in the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race

The 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race made for a lot thrilling motor racing as early s in the first hour. At 15:30hrs, a total of 156 vehicles started in brilliant sunshine into the race twice around the clock.  

US-American Jeff Westphal in the Glickenhaus racer #704 of Traum Motorsport that sensationally secured the pole position for its squad defended its lead during the flying start and also was the first car to enter the Nordschleife. The Land Audi #29 that also started from row on the grid that was raced by Kelvin van der Linde lost three positions on lap one, with fellow Audi drivers René Rast (#9) and Nico Müller (#10) moving up to second and third.

When the front runners approached the cars to be lapped as early as on lap two, DTM driver Rast made no compromises and used his first chance of passing race leader Westphal when the latter braked behind a slower car

On lap four, however, following a first Code-60 zone  caused by two minor accidents Westphal regained the lead. This time he was the one to surprise Rast – who also had to cope with a slower car ahead of him  when he accelerated earlier at the exit of the speed-limited area.

With seven laps and an hour respectively contested, Westphal still is holding the lead. As Rast already pitted for the first time, the positions two to four now are held by the Audis #10. #29 and #5 with Frank Stippler behind the wheel, followed by the second Glickenhaus-SCG003C, #702, raced by Felipe Laser. The latter four vehicles pitted on lap seven – just as the Wochenspiegel-Ferrari #22, the best-placed AMG #3 with last year’s winner Maro Engel at the wheel, the best Porsche, #911, with Fred Makowiecki and the fastest Bentley #38 with Christian Mamerow  in the positions six to nine. Best BMW – in 16th position – was the Rowe Racing M6 GT3 #98 that pitted for fresh tyres as early as on lap three.

Manthey-Porsche #911 the fastest in the warm-up

On Saturday morning, the Manthey-Porsche # 911 set the fastest lap time in the warm-up for the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race. The quartet Romain Dumas, Fred Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz crossed the line in 8:24,329 minutes and were slightly faster than the Glickenhaus racer #704. The pole-sitters – Jeff Westphal, Franck Mailleux, Andreas Simonsen and Felipe Laser – finished second with their 8:24.576- minute lap. 

About a quarter off the entire field set at least one timed lap in the 60-minute session, while some of the other squads used the session for a final performance check.

The race twice around the clock will be started on Saturday at 15:30hrs CEST. The fans can watch the action live throughout the race on the Free-to-Air TV station RTL NITRO or – with numerous additional onboard camera perspectives – via the live stream at www.24h-rennen.de.

Heinrich / Schrei win with a BMW M1

The ADAC 24h Classic featuring racing cars of the 1970s and 1980s provided fair and thrilling motor racing – a successful kick-off  of the 24h-Race weekend for all the visitors at the Nürburgring Nordschleife. In the end, Achim Heinrich and Michael Schrey prevailed in battle for the overall win and crossed the line with their BMW M1 as race winner and with a clear lead over the rest of the field.   . 

So, their opponents had no chance of winning the race. The gap of Heinrich / Schrei on the fastest of their rivals temporarily amounted to more than three minutes and when they crossed the finish line to 2:03.352 minutes. Second place was secured – in the closing stages – by Maximilian Struwe / Sascha Schwalme with a Porsche 911 RSR, followed by Michael Küke who contested the race with an identical car. No doubt, the competition never was a threat for the M1 squad. Heinrich / Schrei dominated the feature race at the 25-kilometre race throughout the three-hour distance. Meanwhile, Daniel Schrey (#506, Porsche 935 K1) who held second place for quite a while was forced into early retirement by a technical problem with just half an hour to go.

The quotes after the ADAC 24h Classic feature race 

Maximilian Struwe (#500, Porsche 911RSR): “We are really happy with having finished second as we were third on the grid. In the race, my team-mated unfortunately was forced to drop back but he battled hard and when I replaced him, the car was in perfect condition. Tyres, brakes – everything was fine. It was virtually hopeless as the lead of the others over us amounted to nearly two minutes. But I pushed hard and in the end we did it. A really pleasing result – just perfect.”

Michael Küke (#504, Porsche 911 RSR): “In the opening stages I was able to follow Daniel Schrey. In the first half of the race we were faster than in the second. In the closing stages I just wasn’t able to keep Maximilian Struwe at bay.”

Achim Heinrich (#303, BMW M1): “I have to admit that this really looked superior but when you are sitting in the car things look completely different. To finish first you have to finish first. And the car often had it quirks. It was rather hot inside and the race was tough. I really can’ t remember when I witnessed this kind of good conditions at the Nürburgring for the last time. Usually, the weather here is bad.”

Action at close range: the Fan Arena experience

Roaring engines, burning rubber and the smell of action and excitement: that’s what the motor-racing enthusiasts will witness in the Nürburgring Fan Arena. The show programme in the historic paddock has got what it takes to thrill everybody – from the power-slide fan to the wood-chopping or motorbike enthusiast. From Thursday to Sunday, the programme features the most different shows – with national and international protagonist that will thrill the crowds with their skills. And this year, several never witness acts will even add to the fantastic atmosphere. 

One of the new acts in this year’s programme is Lithuania’s Arūnas Gibieza with his action-packed Red-Bull motorbike stunt show that takes the spectators’ breath away. “I am slightly excited but truly look forward to my first appearance at the Nürburgring,” Gibieza said a short time before his show in the historic paddock, “I never have been here, to date, but I heard a lot about the circuit. Now I finally am here and look forward to my first appearance at the Nürburgring.” Furthermore, Gibieza raves about the great atmosphere among the spectators on the stands and the really great support of his Red Bull Team that gives him encouragement and turns his stay in Germany into a particularly pleasant experience.

A very special stunt

Also unique is this year’s appearance of the Red-Bull Drift Brothers Joe and Elias Hountondji who are going to perform their first drift-run on the Nordschleife. “It is really, really unique that we will be drifting around the Nordschleife prior to each trace,” said  Joe Hountondji with a touch of pride in his voice. “That’s something never witnessed in the past.” Two weeks ago the brothers drove their first laps on the Nordschleife: at first two hours for learning the track and then a drifted lap. “Unfortunately we can’t complete a full lap drifting on one set of tyres – what means we hat to incorporate a tyre change,” the brothers revealed. Then, the lap with tyre change halfway around the Nordschleife also was practiced. The Hountondjis underline that it’s very important for them that nothing goes wrong and that the circuit isn’t damaged as they are well aware that the 24h-Race drivers are the main attraction of the event and can’t and won’t accept any delays of the race at the Nordschleife. “The biggest difference is that the run-off areas at the Nordschleife with the distance between track and crash barriers being extremely small,” the brothers explain. “Usually we perform our show at tracks with run-off areas with gravel traps. Here, a single mistake will result in a broken car and in a delayed race – what must be avoided by all means.”  The drift brothers explain that they love their sport, think that it has got lot of potential and that they hope to be able to bring the sport nearer to a bigger target group.

“Inter alia, we also will co-comment in the live stream and talk about what we have done and how the drifting sport works and that this represents a huge chance for us.” The brothers have been coming to the 24h Race for three years, now, and this year, they finally have got some tine for visiting some of the fans and enjoying the Nürburgring atmosphere as they aren’t in action all the time. “Pure madness what the fans have organised here. Some of them even have got pools in the woods,” the pairing said smiling.

But not only the new acts find their place in the Fan Arena as the well-known shows also once again can be admired in the historic paddock. Attractions such as the Falken Drift Taxis that represent real crowd pullers year by year as the spectators who love power slides and burning rubber even can apply for a ride in the passenger seats of the cars.  Rides that can represent a hard test for the passenger’s stomach. For 10 years, now, Dutchman Rohan van Riel has been a member of the team and once again contributes to the show with ardour, this year. “I’m really delighted to once again be a part of the show,” he said. “It’s just great that we are so successful with what we are doing. In these sunny conditions the spectators are in an even better mood and driving in these conditions consequently is even bigger fun.”

Wood-chopping sport for and with the fans

In addition, the extraordinary Stihl Timbersports wood-chopping shows will entertain the crowds several times a day in the paddock, with the athletes thrilling the visitors with their fascinating and exhausting sport. In their first demonstrations they show how a trunk is trenched manually or with different motor saws and pique the curiosity for the great show competition in the evening.

A competition the sportsmen love to integrate the spectators into. Here, the fans also may demonstrate their skills on a saw. To date, the squad has been absolutely happy with their appearances and also enjoys the nice weather – also the higher temperatures mean more sweating for the athletes. “Tonight we will have modified saws on the stage, with more than 70bhp and 140 decibels – what should delight every motor-sport enthusiast,” said team-member Leonard Schäfer who massively looks forward to the show and the atmosphere in the evening.

Top-30 Press Conference quotes

After the thrilling Top 30 Qualifying, the three fastest drivers, Jeff Westphal, Connor de Phillippi and Robin Frijns, answered the questions of the media representatives in a press conference.

Jeff Westphal (#704, Traum Motorsport): “Sitting here feels just great. That’s the deserved reward for the hard work the team has been executing in all these years. We changed the brake balance short before the session and this move obviously paid off. At the beginning of my lap I had slight understeer and had to really take the tyres to their very limit. And in the closing stages of the lap I tried to stay at the limit.”

Connor De Phillippi (#29, Audi Sport Team Land): “We really all can be proud of our achievements. Team Land that is contesting the race for the first time with works support and did a really great job. A great debut as works team. I haven’t been driving a lot behind the Glickenhaus vehicles but I think that they have a particular advantage compared to us in the areas aerodynamics and top speed. On the other hand, our Audi R8 LMS seems to be better on the brakes and in slow corners. On my first lap I stressed my tyres extremely and the result was my fastest lap. But I possibly could have opted for another strategy and save my tyres for the second lap.”

Robin Frijns (#9, Audi Team WRT): “I was really happy with my first lap. I could improve at the beginning of my second but then the car suddenly felt weird. I didn’t want to risk an accident and just cruised back. The grid position is nice but it’s a 24h race and everything can happen. I know the atmosphere created by the fans from last year but every lap around the Nordschleife is just fantastic.”

Westphal secures pole position for the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race

With a superfast second lap US-American Jeff Westphal sensationally secured the pole position for the 45th edition of the ADAC Zurich 24h Race. Westphal crossed the line in 8:15.427 minute, thus setting the fastest lap time in the Top 30 Qualifying and consequently, the SCG003C #704 will be the pole sitter when the race twice around the clock will be started on Saturday at 15:30hes CEST (14:30hrs BST). Westphal will share row one with his compatriot Connor de Phillippi (8:16.102) who was just 0.675 seconds slower, with his Audi.

“I was really at the limit and had a lot of oversteer,” admitted Westphal. “This was a make-or-break lap. The first lap also was rather good but at some sports it could have been even better.” By setting the fastest lap Westphal also secured the Glickenhaus Trophy. The challenge cup was donated in 2016 by the American movie director James Glickenhaus who also created and established ‘Team Traum Motorsport’. So, the Team Principal had the pleasure to award the trophy to one of his own drivers. “The Nürburgring 24h Race is like Woodstock,” said Glickenhaus. “A Festival of motor racing. And I’m proud that our team becomes a part of this legend, with our pole position.”

The positions on the second row of the grid were secured by Robin Frijns in the WRT-Audi #9 and the Wochenspiegel-Ferrari #22 driver Jochen Krummbach. In fifth and sixth positions, DTM drivers Nico Müller (#10) and Mike Rockenfeller (#5) completed the great manufacturer result for Audi.

Last year’s winner Maro Engel who didn’t drive the Black Falcon #1 but #3, finished seventh in the Top 30 Qualifying, thus being the best Mercedes-AMG driver. Sven Müller was the fastest Porsche driver and finished eight, while Augusto Farfus took the fastest BMW to 10th place. The best Bentley, driven by Christian Mamerow, qualified 13th.

The race twice around the clock will be started on Saturday at 15:30hrs CEST. The fans can watch the action live throughout the race on the Free-to-Air TV station RTL NITRO or – with numerous additional onboard camera perspectives – via the live stream at www.24h-rennen.de.

Top 30 Qualifying: The competitors

The starting order for the 45. ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen is ready.

Pos. Kl. Competitor Driver Car St.-No.
1 SP9 Audi Sport Team WRT Robin Frijns Audi R8 LMS 9
2 SP9 Falken Motorsports Martin Ragginger Porsche 911 GT3 R 44
3 SP9 ROWE Racing Philipp Eng BMW M6 GT3 99
4 SP9 Haribo Racing Team Mercedes-AMG Maximilian Götz Mercedes-AMG GT3 8
5 SP9 Manthey Racing Fred Makowiecki Porsche 911 GT3 R 911
6 SP9 ROWE Racing Alexander Sims BMW M6 GT3 98
7 SP9-LG Bentley Team Abt Christian Mamerow Bentley Continental GT3 38
8 SP9 Falken Motorsports Stef Dusseldorp BMW M6 GT3 33
9 SP9 Black Falcon Daniel Juncadella Mercedes-AMG GT3 4
10 SP9 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Maro Engel Mercedes-AMG GT3 3
11 SP9 Audi Sport Team Land Christopher Mies Audi R8 LMS 28
12 SP9-LG Bentley Team Abt Maxime Soulet Bentley Continental GT3 36
13 SP9 Schubert Motorsport Jens Klingmann BMW M6 GT3 19
14 SP9 Audi Sport Team Land Connor De Phillippi Audi R8 LMS 29
15 SP9 Phoenix Racing Mike Rockenfeller Audi R8 LMS 5
16 SP9 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Adam Christodoulou Mercedes-AMG GT3 1
17 SP9 AMG-Team HTP Motorsport Christian Hohenadel Mercedes-AMG GT3 47
18 SP9 BMW Team Schnitzer Marco Wittmann BMW M6 GT3 42
19 SP9 Manthey Racing Sven Müller Porsche 911 GT3 R 59
20 SP9 Manthey Racing Mathieu Jaminet Porsche 911 GT3 R 12
21 SP9 Audi Sport Team WRT Nico Müller Audi R8 LMS 10
22 SP9 Mercedes-AMG Team HTP Motorsport Maximilian Buhk Mercedes-AMG GT3 50
23 SP9-LG Bentley Team Abt Christopher Brück Bentley Continental GT3 37
24 SP-X Traum Motorsport Jeff Westphal SCG003C 704
25 SP9 Wochenspiegel Team Monschau Jochen Krumbach Ferrari 488 GT3 22
26 SP9 BMW Team Schnitzer Augusto Farfus BMW M6 GT3 43
27 SP9 Schubert Motorsport GmbH Jesse Krohn BMW M6 GT3 20
28 SP-X Traum Motorsport Felipe Fernandez Laser SCG003C 27
29 SP9 MANN-FILTER Team HTP Motorsport Indy Dontje Mercedes-AMG GT3 48
30 SP9 Frikadelli Racing Michael Christensen Porsche 911 GT3 R 31

News and Quotes second qualifying session

In the final seconds of qualifying session two, Daniel Keilwitz set the fastest lap time with his Wochenspiegel-Ferrari #22. With his 8:14.591-minute lap, the German who alternates in the Cockpit of the Ferrari with Georg, Oliver Kainz and Jochen Krumbach (all Germany) was the absolutely fastest and qualified for the Top 30 Qualifying in superior style. “I really had luck as there was no traffic on my fast lap,” said Keilwitz. “But we know that we are fast and can match the pace of the front-runners. We wouldn’t mind if we could continue like that.” 

The reigning champions – in the Black Falcon Mercedes AMG GT3 #1 – finished second but already were qualified for the Top 30 Qualifying. And earlier, Maro Engel (Monaco) who contests the race in two cars, already qualified the sister car #3 for the time-trial battle for the pole with the third-fastest lap time. In this car he will alternate with Dirk Müller, Thomas Jäger and Jan Seyffarth (all Germany), in #1 he is teamed up with  Adam Christodoulou (UK), Manuel Metzger (Germany) and Yelmer Buurman (Netherlands).

Altogether, there still were 12 positions for the Top 30 Qualifying available and these 12 positions were assigned after the session according to the times set in the two qualifying sessions. The 30 cars that will contest the Top 30 Qualifying also will be equipped with a blue light that will be mounted behind the windscreen and helps the drivers of the slower cars detecting them in the rearview mirrors. The starting order for the Top 30 Qualifying traditionally will be publicly drawn on Friday from 15:00 to 15:40hrs CEST (14:00 to 14:40hrs BST) in the ring°boulevard. And at 19:50hrs CEST, the battle for the pole will be kicked off. The fans can witness the action live at the free-to-air station RTL NITRO or – with numerous additional onboard-camera perspectives – via the live stream at www.24h-rennen.de.

1 – Engel / Christodoulou / Buurman / Metzger (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

09:57hrs First improvement of the fastest lap time by on Friday morning – by last year’s race winners: 8:21.491 minutes.

3 – Müller / Jäger / Engel / Seyffarth (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

10:24hrs New leaders: 8:18.943 minutes

11:29hrs Maro Engel: “I was lucky and found a free lap. The car is really well prepared.”

4 – Haupt / Al Faisal / Stolz / Juncadella (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

10:59hrs Hubert Haupt: “We are really happy. Daniel Juncadella set a very good lap time. We really hope for making it to the Top 30 Qualifying.”

22 – Weiss / Kainz / Keilwitz / Krumbach (Ferrari 488 GT3)

10:49hrs Oliver Kainz: “We are totally happy with the car. But we just were out on the wrong tyres. Now we will change them and then it’s Daniel’s turn.”

33 – Dumbreck / Imperatori / Dusseldorp / Seefried (BMW M6 GT3)

10:48hrs Marco Seefried: “The track feels good and we will have a fast race, We still will sort several bits and bobs out as we arguably will get a really warm race. In all the previous races it was clearly cooler than now and this definitely will be a factor.”

34 – Saurenmann / Rocco / Koch / Slooten (Audi R8 LMS)

09:48hrs Stops just a few metres after having exited the pit-lane due to technical problems.

43 – Farfus / Lynn / Felix Da Costa / Scheider (BMW  M6 GT3)

10:05hrs Schnitzer regains the lead: 8:18.992 minutes

10:34hrs Augusto Farfus: “We still have to qualify our car for the Top 30 Qualifying. And to do so represents our No 1 priority for this session. I hope that the lap time set by us today will be fast enough to do so.”

11:29hrs Martin Tomczyk: “We haven’t driven the car with these tyres in these temperatures. Therefore we want to gather some experiences over the distance, learn more about the tyre’ and what it does if it is taken to this limit. That looked rather good to date and according to the forecasters it will be even warmer, on the coming days.”

99 – Eng / Sims / Martin / Basseng (BMW M6 GT3)

10:00hrs The BMW force strikes back: new fastest lap time: 8:20.893 minutes, 0.598 seconds faster

100 – Krognes / Di Martino / Henkola / Menzel (BMW M6 GT3)

10:38hhrs Crashes into the crash barriers in the area between Metzgesfeld and Kallenhard.

News and quote qualifying one

August Farfus gave BMW Team Schnitzer the provisional pole for the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race at the Nürburgring. In the BMW M6 GT3 #43, the Brazilian set the fastest lap time by crossing the line in 8:22.307 minutes. Second position, with a gap of 0.948 second to the quickest, was secured by the Bentley Abt Team #39, followed by the pole-sitters’ sister car, the Schnitzer BMW #42, 1.565 seconds behind the fastest.   

1 – Engel / Christodoulou / Buurman / Metzger (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

21:36hrs Manuel Metzger: “It was a good session and we had fun. The first lap was somewhat difficult as the position of the sun was very low. The situation was better on lap two but now I was hampered by a lot of traffic. Therefore, my first lap was faster. The car felt good . Anything i9s running as planned. We want to make it to the top 30 and should we fail to do so this would be a disappointment.”

4 – Haupt / Al Faisal / Stolz / Juncadella (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

23:01hrs Luca Stolz: “We still had some problems in the free practice session and our main goal was to solve them. Furthermore, we still have to qualify for the Top 30 Qualifying and currently, the situation looks quite promising. But tomorrow we will have to push again to make sure that we really make it.”

20:39hrs The quickest with a 8:29.260-minute lap. Slightly faster than the team-mates in car #1.

5 – Stippler / Rockenfeller / Busch / Moller Madsen (AUDI R8 LMS)

22:37hrs Mike Rockenfeller: “There still is a lot of traffic, out there. Apparently a lot of teams are looking for the racing line in the dark. Our car feels good and we are working on completing our programme.”

8 – Alzen / Arnold / Götz / van der Zande (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

23:17hrs Uwe Alzen: “I completed the two laps I needed to qualify. The track is in a good condition. There were no accidents. We now focus on our preparations for the Top 30 Qualifying as we already are qualified.”

22:18hrs Lance David Arnold: “Our car has been repaired and it’s running well. We now have to adjust the lights and test several other things at night.”

21:16hrs Maximilian Götz on the open bonnet in the closing stages of the session. “This was the result of a minor rear-end collision Uwe Alzen had with a Porsche, a misunderstanding on the GP circuit during an overtaking manoeuvre. The car was slightly compressed and the bonnet opened.” But it wasn’t a major damage and was quickly repaired.”

19 – Klingmann / Müller / Edwards / Onslow – Cole (BMW M6 GT3)

22:10hrs John Edwards: “I didn’t drive in the afternoon and so I drove my first laps at dawn. In these conditions, the Nordschleife is even more special. Altogether, everything was fine. Finally, the preparation time is over and the action is on.”

20 – Krohn / Müller / Spengler / Wittmer (BMW M6 GT3)

22:47hrs Bruno Spengler: “I first of all I had t to carefully approach to racing at night. There was quite a lot if traffic, several yellow flags and Code 60. It was good that I could gather so much night experience.”

22 – Weiss / Kainz / Keilwitz / Krumbach (Ferrari 488 GT3)

22:55hrs The team works on the jacked-up car.

21:54hrs With a 8:23.737-minute lap Jochen Krumbach sets the second-fastest time.

21:06hrs Daniel Keilwitz: “A lot of traffic out there. I think I lost 10 seconds on the GP circuit alone. Now the cars will be spread all over the circuit and so, we all should be able to go faster.”

29 – De Phillippi / Mies / Winkelhock / van der Linde (Audi R8 LMS)

21:30hrs Kelvin van der Linde: “The conditions currently are really nice. Okay, the low position of the sun is slightly disturbing but the track is in a good condition and the temperature is dropping. This means that the tyres will get into a good working frame. We currently are working our race setup and only tomorrow we will go out for a fast qualifying lap.” We made some setup changes that proved to be real improvements. This race with all the fans and camp fires is truly incredible.”

30 – Abbelen / Schmitz / Ziegler / Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R)

21:28hrs Driver swap: Andreas Ziegler is replaced by Sabine Schmitz.

33 – Dumbreck / Imperatori / Dusseldorp / Seefried (BMW M6 GT3)

23:34hrs The Falken BMW doesn’t meet the minimum height that has been stipulated for this year. The result: a 10-position grid penalty after the qualifying.

37 – Brück / Menzel / Verdonck / Jöns (Bentley Continental GT3)

22:54hrs Christopher Brück: “The conditions aren’t perfect. There is a lot of dirt on the track. Therefore we are slower than in previous races. Tomorrow we should be able to faster as the circuit slowly is getting cleaner.”

21:15hrs Driving slowly at the Döttinger Höhe area

38 – Jöns / Mamerow / Pepper / Brück (Bentley Continental GT3)

21:16hrs Christer Jöns: “I now completed my first multi-lap stint. The conditions were interesting as the sun is just setting. We still have to improve some details.”

42 – Wittmann / Blomqvist / Tomczyk / Farfus (BMW M6 GT3)

21:04hrs 8:23.872 minutes – new fastest lap time Min.

43 – Farfus / Lynn / Felix Da Costa / Scheider (BMW  M6 GT3)

23:29hrs Augusto Farfus has set a new fastest lap time (8:22.307 minutes) that is a 10th of a second faster than the one previously set by his team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa.

23:28hrs Timo Scheider: “We basically are happy with our position. As we have not yet qualified  we now really have to go for it.  And the fact that we did so in the dark is particularly nice. But I think that we will witness several changes in Q2. Antonio set the time on soft tyres. A very good feat for a Nordschleife rookies.”

23:17hrs Takes the lead with an 8:22.402-minute lap.

47 – Asch / Baumann / Hohenadel / Mücke (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

22:19hrs Christian Hohenadel: “We adjusted the headlights and checked if everything is fine. It’s perfect! I now will drive a lap in the dark to prepare myself for the night stints.”

21:53hrs Baumann after his stint: “Unfortunately our right front tyre lost pressure. We still have to find out what happened. We have to adjust the headlights as soon as it’s dark out there.”

48 – Heyer / Schneider / Dontje / Assenheimer (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

22:00hra Kenneth Heyer: “Actually the session was quite good. We are testing two things in today’s qualifying session and one of these two changes already worked really well. We clearly improved our pace and everything is running as scheduled.”

50 – Baumann / Buhk / Mortara / Sandström (Mercedes-AMG GT3)

22:22hrs Edward Sandström: “Driving on the Nordschleife in the dark is really big fun. It’s a privilege to have the chance of driving such a fantastic car on the Nordschleife- Everything went fine in my stint.”

704 – Westphal / Mailleux / Simonsen / Laser (SCG SCG003C)

23:06Uhsr Felipe Laser: “We had to come in for a short unscheduled stop. We currently are trying different brake pads and had to pit to change them, But we will go out again right away

911 – Dumas / Makowiecki / Pilet / Lietz (Porsche 911 GT3 R)

23:15hrs Richard Lietz is replaced by Romain Dumas and say: “Things are running well, so far but it goes without saying that we want to improve consistently. Currently we are still working on the setup – but only on details, After all, every driver is supposed to feel comfortable in the car. Everything making a driver’s life easier is very important.”

Schnitzer BMW # 43 the quickest in qualifying session one

On Thursday evening, BMW Team Schnitzer set the fastest lap time in the first qualifying session for the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race. With his BMW M6 GT3 #43 and with just few more minutes to go, Augusto Farfus, in 2010 the first Brazilian to have won the 24h Race, crossed the line in 8:22.307 minutes, thus being a 10th of a second faster than the previous fastest lap time set by his team-mate Antonio Felix da Costa (Portugal). The quartet of 24h-Race record winners Schnitzer that also comprises Timo Scheider (Germany) und Alex Lynn (UK), was nearly a second faster than the Abt Bentley #38 with line-up war Christer Jöns (Germany), Christian Mamerow (Germany), Jordan Lee Pepper (South Africa) and Christopher Brück (Germany) who needed 8:23,255 minutes for their lap.

“Today’s times don’t really mean a lot,” said Farfus. “We now are the fastest with #43 and #42 also is among the fastest. This is okay for today but tomorrow we have to make sure that we will make it to the Top 30 Qualifying what will allow us to battle it out for the pole position.”

With their results, the two fastest cars set course to the Top 30 Qualifying. To date – after the first two VLN rounds and the 24h qualifying race – 18 of the coveted positions for the time-trial battle for the pole and the best grid positions already have been assigned. And one of these cars is the Schnitzer BMW #42 that finished third, tonight and will be raced by reigning DTM Champion Marco Wittmann (Germany), Tom Blomqvist (UK), Martin Tomczyk (Germany) and Augusto Farfus who will drive both Schnitzer coupes. In addition to the right to contest the Top 30 Qualifying, the 30 fastest cars also will be provided a blue light – mounted for the race behind the windscreen – that will help the slower cars detecting them in their rearview mirrors.

On Friday morning, from 09:30 to 11:30 CEST (08:30 to 10:30 BST), the teams will contest the second qualifying session and afterwards, the times set in the two qualifying sessions will be used to determine the order that is needed to assign the positions still available for the Top 30 Qualifying. The starting positions for the Top 30 Qualifying traditionally will be publicly drawn on Friday from 15:00 to 15:40hrs CEST in the ring°boulevard. And then, at 19:50hrs, the 30 fastest cars begin the chase for the pole. The fans can watch the action live on the Free-to-Air TV station RTL NITRO or – with numerous additional onboard cameras – via the live stream at www.24h-rennen.de.

Quotes pre-event press conference PK

Just a short time to go to the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race and the pleasant anticipation of the drivers is increasing. This applies in particular to last year’s winner Maro Engel who is going to contest the race in the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 #1 and already got the goose bumps when travelling to the Nürburgring, this year. “If you leave the Autobahn, come here and see all the camp sites it makes you remember last year. The win in 2016 was the most emotional experience in my motor-racing career,” Engel said at the pre-event press conference on Thursday.

Apart from Engel, who made his DTM comeback, this year, the former DTM Champion and 24h-Race rookie Bruno Spengler (Schubert-BMW M6 GT3 #20), two-time 24h –Race overall winner Christopher Haase (Land-Audi R8 LMS #28) and Sven Müller (Manthey-Porsche 911 GT3R #59) also talked about their preparations for the race and their goals. “I had to learn a lot and this still is the case,” admitted Spengler. “You firstly have to contest a race, here, to really be able to match the pace of the fastest. Meanwhile, Haase is about to contest his 10th 24h Race and also knows the special requirements you have to cope with in a 161-vehicle field. “Finding the balance between overtaking and being patient is difficult,” he said. Müller who was born in Bingen but lives in Mainz looks forward to a lot of support. “I already feel at home in the Eifel and a lot of people from my hometown will come here to watch me racing.”

The press-conference quotes at a glance:
Maro Engel (#1, Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon): “The 24h Race has boosted my career. I got the chance of making my DTM comeback. This demonstrates the significance the race has got in the motor-racing world. The big advantage at Mercedes is our consistent driver line-up. The agreements and the driver swaps in general work really well. Racing together with the colleagues is big fun. For us drivers, assessing the balance of power is extremely difficult – it’s extremely close, this year. To have the chance of winning you have to deliver a perfect race. It will be extremely thrilling.”

Bruno Spengler (#20, Schubert Motorsport): “For me, this year will be a kind of a learning year. But I have got very competitive team-mates who help me to learn well and fast. I’m looking forward to this race and the new experience. Already yesterday the atmosphere was really great, witnessing the enthusiasm of the fans is just fantastic. Therefore, contesting this race will be even bigger fun. Our first goal: to make it to the Top 30 Qualifying. It definitely is an advantage to previously have driven a smaller car on this racetrack as it helps learning to watch your rearview mirrors. I think it’s a good regulation that you have to learn the track within the framework of the Nordschleife Driving Permit.
Switching from a DTM car to a GT vehicle is not so easy. In the beginning, you always brake slightly too late. So, it takes some time to find the rhythm.“

Christopher Haase (# 28, Audi Sport Team Land): “I have contested nine 24h Races and have experienced quite a lot but the weather conditions last year when the race had to be red-flagged for three hours due to torrential rain and hail were new even to me. .
Therefore I hope for nice weather, this year. To learn racing on the Nordschleife you have to begin with smaller cars. With these cars you partly have got a clearly different racing line than with the GT3 racers. Furthermore you also accustom to the partly huge speed differences between the two car categories. To date, I won the race twice, with the old Audi R8. Not I want to make it to the top step for the first time with the new R8. But achieving this goal won’t be easy as the competition is strong.

Sven Müller (#59, Manthey Racing): “I truly am looking forward to the Nürburgring 24h Race. Thanks to the preparations in the VLN races and at Daytona our team has developed very strong bonds and we are able to really depend on one another. As the Nordschleife is really special and I already raced GT3 cars in the VLN, adapting wasn’t particularly difficult for me. I’m coming from Mainz and feel really at home, in the Eifel. And there are lot of people from my hometown who will travel to ‘The Ring’ to watch me racing. But I wouldn’t call the 24h Race as my home race. There are a lot of other drivers who have covered far more kilometres at the Nordschleife. I’m really proud of being part of such a successful team as Manthey Racing.”

Free practice session: Land Audi R8 LMS #29 sets the first fastest lap tim

On Thursday afternoon, the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race  was officially kicked off with the first free practice session. The first fastest lap time on the combination of GP circuit and Nordschleife was set by the Land-Audi R8 LMS #29.

On their fastest lap, Connor de Phillippi (USA), Christopher Mies (Heiligenhaus), Kelvin van der Linde (South Africa) and Markus Winkelhock (Berglen-Steinach) crossed the line in 8:19.006 minutes, thus being more than six seconds faster than their second-placed fellow Audi drivers in the R8 LMS #1, entered by Audi Sport Team WRT. Nico Müller (Switzerland), Rene Rast (Frankfurt/Main), Frank Stippler (Bad Münstereifel) and Frederic Vervisch (Belgium) set a lap time of 8:25.143 minutes. Third place on the time sheets was secured in 8:26.440 minutes by the Falken-Porsche #44, raced by Laurens Vanthor (Belgium), Martin Ragginger (Austria), Jörg Bergmeister (Langenfeld) and Dirk Werner (Würzburg).

“I still opted for a relaxed approach as it was just the free practice session,” said van der Linde who set the fastest lap time with the Audi #29. “Now I hope for a good result in the qualifying session.” From 20:05hrs to 23:30hrs CEST (19:05hrs to 22:30hrs BST) the teams will go out for the first qualifying session and on Friday morning, after the second qualifying session ( 09:30 to 11:30hrs CEST) the last 12 competitors for the Top 30 Qualifying will have been found. And in this session, the 30 participating vehicles will battle it out for the pole and the positions on the first 15 rows on the grid.

BMW Schnitzer: Comeback of the record winners

The 2017 ADAC Zurich 24h Race will bring back a tradition-rich battle: Team Schnitzer makes its 24h-Race comeback as BMW works squad and will have to compete with Manthey-Racing, one the most tradition-rich Porsche squads. Both teams have won the legendary endurance race five times, to date and so, another win would mean to take the sole lead in this ranking. For five years Schnitzer was absent but now the Bavarians are back at the Nordschleife to contest the race with two BMWs BMW M6 GT3: a combination that makes every pundit click his tongue. But following their win in the two VLN races held in the run-up to the 24h Race, Manthey are among the top favourites. And so, the 2017 24h Race also will be the battle of the titans. 

Schnitzer celebrated five Nürburgring 24h-Race wins to date, the first back in 1989. To remind of this triumph, one of Schnitzer’s M6 GT3 vehicles will contest the race in the striking livery featuring of those days, featuring three coloured stripes. And the drivers of the car represent a mix of drivers with a lot of Nordschleife experience (Augusto Farfus, Timo Scheider) and Nordschleife rookies (Antonio Felix Da Costa and Alex Lynn). ”The car looks just great,” beamed Farfus, “When I was a little boy and saw a car with this livery I  knew it’s a BMW racing car.”

The BMW M3 E30 – small but competitive

Charly Lamm already was the Schnitzer Team Principal when the squad secured its maiden 24h-Race win and he loves to remember the BMW M3 E30 the team raced with in those days. “It was a small car with a small engine but a true driving machine,” he said. “When it comes to the horsepower we were inferior to our rivals, such as Ford, Volvo, Jaguar or Rover. But the M3 was on its first lap as fast as on its last. The tyres didn’t degrade and it didn’t consume a lot of fuel. Therefore, we could drive long stints and win the race twice.” And  with Roberto Ravaglia, Emanuele Pirro and Fabien Giroix the team could rely on an extremely competitive driver line-up.

Later, Schnitzer opted for a first multi-year break but from 2003 to 2005 they were back  with the M3 GTR (E46) and celebrated another two 24h-Race wins. Five years later the Bavarian squad contested their next. Brazil’s Augusto Farfus who also is a member of this year’s driver line-up, recalls the year 2010: “We won the race in my first year, in the second we came twice.”

First appearance with a GT3 vehicle

Now Schnitzer returns to the Nordschleife but despite all the successes they rather feel like rookies: “In the few weeks since we are back we had to realise that quite a lot of things have changed,” admits Charly Lamm. The main difference is the GT3 category. “Yes, we have won several editions of the race but a lot of time has gone by since 2011. So yes, we have got a certain level of experience but we also are rookies. After all it’s the first time that we will contest the race with a GT3 vehicle.”

Clever race tactic will be crucial

What will be necessary to add another win to the team’s tally? The Nordschleife and its special characteristics always are of major significance. “The circuit actually is the same,” says Lamm, “The few changes aren’t worth mentioning. But the Nordschleife is a mystery – it’s length and its environment, such as the weather, turn the races here into extremely difficult challenges. “And so, you have to know all the secrets and challenges of the circuit to incorporate them into your operative business.“ Team Schnitzer contested two VLN rounds and a test at the Nordschleife, with the BMW M6 GT3, and still are on the way to getting to know the car. And in addition there is the balance of performance the team has to cope with for the first time. “I don’t know if its boon or bane,”  Lamm says laughing. “The fans are provided a well-balanced field but it’s virtually impossible to open a gap on your rivals. Now it’s important to find your rhythm right at the start and to be one of the front-runners and outpace your rivals as soon as a situation such as a fast driver or the perfect tyre choice or the night offers you the chance of doing so.”

Farfus: “Winning here is more difficult than at Le Mans” 

Meanwhile, the drivers also think about the challenge to come: “The 24h Race has turned into a sprint race,” explains Augusto Farfus. “In the past it was enough to just battle your way through and make it to the finish line and you secured one of the top positions. There is no safety-car and this means that every lost second really is lost. Winning here is more difficult than winning at Le Mans. The circuit is a massive challenge. There are more vehicles and you have to push all the time.”

The drivers: a mix of old hands and young guns 

Antonio Felix da Costa is one of the drivers who will race the BMW with the historic livery and at the same time, it will be his first Nürburgring 24h Race. “I already race for Schnitzer in DTM and it’s just fantastic that I also will race for them at ‘The Ring’,” beams the Portuguese “It won’t be easy for us as Alex Lynn and I are Nordschleife rookies. But on the other hand, Augusto Farfus und Timo Scheider have got a lot of experience.” Farfus even regards the mix as an advantage. “They will opt for a more open approach. As experienced drivers you are so accustomed to everything that you won’t come up with new ideas. The rookies, however, possibly will.”

Top-class grid for the race of the year

Now it’s official: the grid for the 2017 ADAC Zurich 24h Race will feature more top-class competitors than virtually ever. The entry list comprises more than 150 teams and more than 30 of them registered for the top categories of the potential winners.  Therefore, the entry list of these categories is tantamount to the who-is-who of the endurance, GT and touring-car racing aces. Audi, Bentley, BMW, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche all send their works drivers to the race of the year, among them numerous DTM aces, 24h-Race winners and sports-car specialists. Meanwhile, the race also will be contested by costumer teams of these brands as well as by prototype squads representing Ferrari and Renault. They all will be welcomed by more than 200,000 spectators who travelled to the Eifel to witness them racing on the Ascension weekend (25th to 28th May) on the combination of the Nürburgring’s GP circuit and the Nordschleife. They all will be fighting for one of the most coveted trophy available in international endurance racing. And this year, the event features an additional highlight: two rounds of the World Touring Car Championship, WTCC, that will be contested on Saturday, right before the start of the 24h race.  Furthermore, the ‘Rockfestival of Car Racing’ also will entertain the visitors from Wednesday by numerous support-programme highlights aloof from the track.

Predicting a real favourite for this year’s edition of the 24h race is virtually impossible. The grid features just too many squads with top-class drivers, perfectly-practiced racing crews and cars that have got what it takes to win. The defending champions of course will contest the race with the #1 on their car: with Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Adam Christodoulou, three of last year’s overall winners are going to once again contest the race for Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon. And they will be joined by a new team-mate, Dutchman Yelmer Buurman. Meanwhile, the other Mercedes-AMG GT3 vehicles that will be entered – apart from Black Falcon – by HTP Motorsport und Team Haribo also will be raced by DTM and sports-car aces as well as Nordschleife specialists. “As I see it, the Nürburgring 24h Race is the toughest and most gruelling car race in the world,” says Maro Engel.” More than 30 potential race winners on the grid combined with the most demanding and coolest racetrack on our planet. The reception by spectators, drivers, teams and manufacturers demonstrates the outstanding significance of this race. I think that winning the Nürburgring 24h Race is tougher than winning the Le Mans 24h Race. There they have got just a handful of race-win contenders.”

Competitive teams on the grid
The challengers also are well prepared for their campaign to steal the win from the Mercedes-AMG squads. Audi, for instance, will represented by works drivers racing for Team WRT and Land Motorsport, with further R8 LMS vehicles being entered by very competitive customer teams. And by their win in the 24h qualifying race, local heroes Phoenix Racing also must be regarded as one of the top favourites. Meanwhile, BMW also do their very best to cement their position as most successful brand in the 24h-Race history. Since the maiden edition of the race, back in 1970, the Munich based brand celebrated 19 overall wins and this year, Schubert Motorsport and Rowe Racing are supposed to make it 20. And don’t forget the most successful 24h-Race team that is back after a five-year break: Schnitzer. In the fight for the lead in the all-time record list the Bavarian team also will have to battle it out with their direct rivals in the fight for this title: like Schnitzer, Manthey Racing also secured fiver overall wins to date and with its Porsches 911 GT3 R that are raced by works drivers they definitely represent a force that has got what it takes to become a factor. A fact that has been demonstrated by their two wins in the two 2017 VLN (Endurance Championship Nürburgring) rounds contested to date. Also representing the Porsche colours will be Falken Motorsport and Frikadelli Racing, two teams that demonstrated more than once that they are among the fastest when it comes to racing at the Nordschleife.

Top favourites under pressure
And even beyond the ‘Big Four’ the 2017 Nürburgring 24h-Race entry list is peppered with top-class teams that are determined to give the apparently superior works squads the hardest possible time. The squad around James Glickenhaus, for instance, that will contest the race with two SCG009c prototypes under the team name ‘Traum Motorsport’ did particularly well in the qualifying race. Only a technical failure stopped the team on the way to its first triumph. At the same time, Bentley also is very competitive. Yes, it has to be admitted that the Bentley is the concept-wise oldest GT3 on the grid but entered by Abt and raced by outstanding drivers, the brawny Briton was among the front runners, in the qualifying race. There it also had to compete with independently entered GT3 Ferrari from Switzerland that also will be back for the 24h Race. A glance at the ‘smaller’ categories demonstrates that these classes also feature a lot of top-class team, drivers and cars. Numerous independent cars will fight with one another in the cup classes and entertain the fans with thrilling battles. But there also will be works teams racing in these categories. For instance in the booming GT4 class that is contested by Aston Martin with a works squad while Audi’s R8 is making its debut. Meanwhile, several brands are contesting the event in the production-car category: Hyundai and Subaru are racing in the SP3T and Toyota Gazoo in the SP3 to possibly secure the class win.

WTCC promises top-class entertainment
The fans will be provided a first true highlight even before the ADAC Zurich 24h Race will be started on Saturday afternoon: the World Touring Car Championship, WTCC, once again will contest two championship rounds on the combination of Grand Prix circuit and Nordschleife, with the World Championship even making an exception, for the event at the planet’s most legendary circuit: for once, both races will feature the same distance.  The race distance of both races amounts to three laps and they only will be interrupted by a short repair break. Once again, the WTCC drivers will be joined by their European Touring Car Cup (ETCC) colleagues who will contest the race in an extra starting group. Particularly thrilling: who will follow in the footsteps of Citroën who dominated the Nordschleife action in 2016? Following the retirement of the French manufacturer as works squad, Honda and Volvo Polestar currently have been dominating the World Championship season so far.

Fantastic programme for the fans
Not only the teams, drivers and organisers already have got tingling sensations in the run-up to the 24h Race for quite a while. The visitors also have completed their preparations to once again let the event develop its legendary independent aloof-from-the-track life. On the race weekend the circuit is surrounded by barbecues galore and the countless small and bigger fan groups try to outperform one another with the fanciful presentation of their independent motor-racing festivals. And exactly these enthusiasts are the ones the organisers once again have got numerous highlights for: at the racetrack they will not only witness the two WTCC rounds and the 24h Race but also the classic cars and the younger classic cars of the ‘ADAC Tourenwagen Classic’ as well as the Audi Sport TT Cup makes-cup racers. And the event traditionally will be kicked off on Thursday morning by the RCN (Rundstrecken Challenge Nürburgring) performance exams. Aloof from the track, the action even begins a day earlier: during the ‘Adenauer Racing Day’, fans and drivers traditionally meet on Wednesday afternoon in the heart of the motor-racing city located next to ‘The Ring’. On Thursday, the ring°boulevard hosts the official autographing session. Here, many exhibitors make for an attractive programme and provide information, merchandise products and far more throughout the weekend. In the evening, the 24h-Race night qualifying will fascinate the visitors. The Friday programme features – apart from the first race of the weekend – the crucial qualifying sessions for the WTCC and 24-Race grid positions. The positions on the first 15 rows of the latter will be determined in the evening, in the spectacular Top 30 time trial. A perfect start into the party evening that later will be continued with the pit walk of the fans and the ‘Falken Drift Show’ in the Müllenbachschleife. So, there definitely will be a reason to get bored – and even less so as there is quite a number of further attractions, such as the fan area in the historic paddock. Here, Red Bull entertains the visitors with a motorbike stunt-rider show and Stihl Timbersports with sports wood-chopping. In addition, Falken lets the visitors feel the speed in their drifting taxis and Red Bull are once again active for the fans: this year, the energy-drink takes the Drift Brothers – on Friday and Saturday – to the Nordschleife where they will make the tires smoke on the spectator hot spots of the circuit several times.

Advance-booking tickets available
Those who don’t want to buy their ADAC Zurich 24h-Race tickets only after having arrived at ‘The Ring’ also can purchase them in advance. To do so, just call the ticket hotline +49 (0)180 6 570070. Or you book your tickets online at www.eventim.de or www.nuerburgring.de.