Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche), Christopher Haase (Audi), Philipp Eng (BMW) and Maximilian Götz (Mercedes AMG) look ahead to the 2019 ADAC TOTAL 24h Race and talk about their first metres in the practice session.
Jörg Bergmeister # 44 Falken Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R
“The Falken tyres have been exclusively designed for Porsche. This can be an advantage but a disadvantage too as we haven’t got any comparison possibilities with other Porsche vehicles. Nonetheless, I’ve got the feeling that we will be better than we looked so far – provided it remains dry. We definitely hope for nice conditions, with temperatures of 25 to 30 degrees, and possibly throughout the race,” he says smiling. “Basically, all the manufacturers have the chance of winning the race as the BOP makes for a well-balanced field. It goes without saying that I will cross my fingers first of all for Porsche. The atmosphere around the Nordschleife is very special and can’t be compared with Le Mans. My pole tip is – what will come as no surprise – Klaus Bachler as he will drive our car in the Top Qualifying. I’m looking forward to the race although I still have got a slight sleep deficit, following the 24 Hours of Le Mans.”
Christopher Haase / # 14 Audi Sport Team Car Collection Audi R8 LMS / # 29 Audi Sport Team Land
“I completed three laps on slicks. On the first lap I drove up at the Flugplatz and all of a sudden the track was wet. So I thought: oh oh, you’d rather brake. Later, in the Metzgesfeld section, the track was dry again but that’s exactly what makes the Nürburgring so special. The sun is shining when you start but after a few kilometres you enter the rain cloud. And you realise why the circuit also is called Green Hell. On my third lap, the rain got torrential and so I opted for returning to the pits. This means that we actually had to cope with everything the weekend can bring on one single lap. Therefore, I think that we are well prepared.
I’m going to contest the race for two teams: Audi Motorsport Team Land and Audi Sport Team Car Collection. Yes, Land already won the race once but both teams are highly professional and experienced what is the most important key factor to succeeding at the Nürburgring. At the same time, switching from team to team won’t represent a major challenge for me. After all, both teams contest the race with Audis R8, the tyres are the same, the cockpits too and so, I have just to put my inlay on the seat and off I go. My Car Collection colleagues all have already won this race and together we secured the win in the Dubai 24h Race.
An additional motivation for making it to the Top Qualifying is the fact that you can complete traffic-free laps on the circuit. I think that every driver is dreaming of having the opportunity to really go for it at the Nürburgring without being hampered by anything. And to do so in qualifying laps where you take the car to its very limit – just a dream.”
Philipp Eng / # 98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3
“It will be a head-to-head battle of all the big manufacturers. You mustn’t write off anybody, in the run-up,” says Philipp Eng who has contested quite a number of races in DTM, at Le Mans – and now at the Nürburgring. His employer, BMW, is regarded as one of the top favourites. “Altogether we have got a competitive package. Our BMW M6 GT3 has been used in motor racing since 2016. Therefore, we drivers know the car very well. But I’m a professional pessimist. Nonetheless, I want to win this race – just like anybody else. Winning the Nürburgring 24h Race would be a huge dream finally coming true. But 24 hours are long and so many things can happen – and even more so at the Nordschleife. Nowhere else are you driving through different climate zones on one lap.”
When it comes to the new Top-Qualifying format, Eng is of a positive opinion. “First of all, I want to thank my team. We made it to the Top Qualifying. Now it’s important to make it to the very front of the grid. There, the blue light always indicates that you are a fast car. As I see it, the new qualifying format is just great. I think it’s cool as there will be slightly less traffic. It goes without saying that I already look forward to tomorrow’s top qualifying session and can’t wait to see what will happen. For a driver, trying to be the fastest in all the nine section represents a huge stimulus. I just must not make any mistakes and then the result hopefully will be great.”
Maximilan Götz / #48 Mercedes AMG Team Mann Filter
Maximilian Götz makes clear announcements: “You have to hold the lead and defend it. Although the race usually isn’t decided before the final hour has begun. But if you have been driving behind the leaders for a long time it’s difficult to fight your way back up. Therefore we hope that the weather forecast for tomorrow will be better and more constant.”
The Mercedes AMG Team Mann Filter still has to qualify for the individual time trial. “We still have to qualify but there are just three more Top-Qualifying positions available and I think that there are eight cars that are keen on these positions. It could be that I will drive the fast lap but it also could be that Rafaele does it. But no matter which of us four drivers will be in the cockpit – we all are able to deliver. At the end of the day we also have to keep an eye on the weather. More rain has been forecasted. So, there are so many crucial factors, and so much luck… We hope for the best!”
“The new Top-Qualifying format is really fairer. There are nine sections and you have to try to drive five or six fast laps as it’s the average that counts. It’s thrilling, a new format and I think it’s great. Particularly for those who have not yet qualified, the new format is extremely thrilling. You have to really push in the qualifying session! The previous years were slightly difficult for Mercedes-AMG, from weird weather to generally unfortunate circumstances for us. But at the end of the day everybody has got what it takes to win.
I still regard us as tip for the Top Qualifying but Ferrari and Lexus also have been competitive. It’s difficult to assess the competitiveness of these exotic teams but it could be that one of them does really well. Nonetheless, we also will give our very best to make it!”