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6 Hours of Nurburgring

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring Review

FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring Review

Our customers at the Nurburgring enjoyed another exciting round of this year’s FIA World Endurance Championship at the weekend. Although the result was ultimately a good win for Porsche there was a lot of other stories happening elsewhere on the track too. Our man in the stands takes a look at what we learnt from the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring 2017.

Toyota are still in the fight
Despite having had a disastrous run at Le Mans and now a result to forget at the Nurburgring (with Porsche finishing 1-2), Toyota Gazoo Racing are still very much in the fight for more wins and the 2017 title. The team has always struggled mightily at the Nurburgring and this time were more than competitive. The No.7 TS050 Hybrid took pole position, and led the opening hour of the race, until damage to the car’s underfloor, and rear wing (discovered after the race) caused a drop in the car’s ultimate pace.

6 Hours of the NurburgringIn 2016, both Toyota cars were lapped by the winners. This time around their No.7 car in third finished just a minute behind. Porsche’s new high-downforce kit inevitably  still has pace to be unlocked, but the early signs are that the rest of the season is set to be close between the two main LMP1 manufacturers.

Toyota needs to ensure that the No.8 has a good run for the remaining five rounds in the season, as finishing five laps down at the Nurburgring after a fuel pump issue has damaged the title hopes of Kazuki Nakajima, Anthony Davidson and Sebastien Buemi who now find themselves 30 points back from the No. 2 Porsche boys. (The No.7 car is all but out of the race after DNFs at Silverstone and Le Mans).

Team orders are already at play
Porsche is clearly trying to sew up the title as early as possible and negate any recovery from Toyota. Porsche utilized team orders at the final pit stops at the Nurburgring to ensure that the No.2 Porsche of Brendon Hartley, Timo Bernhard and Earl Bamber took the win on Sunday. Yes, we’re only at the halfway mark of the season, but it is clear that Porsche knows that it’s No. 1 car (with a DNF at Le Mans) has almost no chance of taking the championship this year.

6 Hours of the NurburgringIf Toyota is to win the Driver’s title, then it needs to ensure that the No.8 also finishes ahead of their No.7 wherever possible during the remaining non-European rounds.

GTE Pro title race tightens
In the GTE Pro category, the title races have heated up nicely with the second half of the season still to run. Both the Driver’s, Team’s and Manufacturer’s title races are still close, with all four factories in the mix, which is a testament to the strength of the Balance of Performance this season.

6 Hours of the NurburgringThere’s just 20 points separating the top five teams in the LMGTE Pro teams title race. The No.67 Ford UK GT still leads the way, but with 84 points, is just 11 ahead of the No.51 AF Corse Ferrari which finished first at the Nürburgring and the No.91 Porsche which is now level after a second in Germany, but classed as third due to the No.51 having a win on its record this season. The No.97 Aston Martin is fourth, four points back with 69, ahead of the No.71 AF Corse Ferrari that finished last at the Nürburgring after gear shifter problems that’s now on 64.

It’s slightly more complex in the Drivers’ title race, which has been affected by the inclusion of GTE Am drivers (eligible for the championship) scoring highly at Le Mans. Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell are on 84 points at the top, with Pipo Derani alone in second (though he will slip down the order now that his Ford deal is over). The nearest challengers to the No.67 Ford GT duo is the No.91 Porsche GT Team pair of Fred Makowiecki and Richard Lietz that are a point off Derani and 11 points of the leaders. The No.97 Aston Martin is now 15 points back in fourth (but truly third) after finishing off the podium at the Nurburgring.

The closest battle in the GTE ranks though, is in the Manufacturers Championship. AF Corse’s win in the Eifel Forest has seen them move level with Ford on 135 points in the lead. Aston Martin have 113 in third, with Porsche on 106 in fourth.

Jackie Chan DC Racing running away with it in LMP2
Meanwhile in LMP2, Jackie Chan DC Racing is running away with it, after its ‘Mighty 38’ trio of Oliver Jarvis, Thomas Laurent and Ho Pin Tung produced their third win in four races this season. It was a dominant run too, after building a lead in the first half they became untouchable for the final three hours of the 6 hours of the Nürburgring, the winning margin was eventually over a lap.

6 Hours of the NurburgringThe only real contender in the title race now, is the No.31 Rebellion, which needs to start winning races if it is to have any shot of even taking the title race down to the wire. But being 46 points behind though, is a pretty tall order. Jackie Chan DC Racing have looked almost unbeatable at times when everything runs smoothly. The only way this gap closes is if they drop significant points on multiple occasions and the No.31 trio are able to capitalize.

Dempsey Proton emerges in GTE Am
The title fights in GTE Am, like GTE Pro, are also tight knit, and have the potential to be decided at the Bahrain season finale. Dempsey Proton Racing had a fantastic run on home turf last weekend, with young rookies Matteo Cairoli and Marvin Dienst steering the team, and teammate/team owner Christian Reid to their first win of the season. That, coupled with the championship-leading Clearwater Racing Ferrari finishing fourth, has closed the gaps considerably.

6 Hours of the NurburgringMeanwhile, in the championship for GT Am Drivers, it is all change. Christian Ried, Marvin Dienst and Matteo Cairoli have moved into the lead, with 88 points after their win, although they are level with Clearwater’s trio, which dropped points at Le Mans by finishing behind guest entered GTE AM drivers. Pedro Lamy, Paul Dalla Lana and Mathias Lauda are third, but just two points back. With three clear protagonists, the rest of the season will be fascinating.

The FIA World Endurance Championship now moves away from Europe for the rest of the season, starting at Mexico at the beginning of September. Travel Destinations will be returning to all European rounds again in 2018 and you can register for more information by emailing us at info@traveldestinations.co.uk

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Nurburgring 24

Nurburgring 24 Hours 2017 Preview

This time of year the major events in the motorsport calendar come thick and fast. Having just had a great time with hundreds of Travel Destinations customers at the Spa Classic this last weekend, we are swiftly moving on to the Nurburgring 24 Hours this weekend. Once again we are looking after lots of our customers at the circuit for this amazing event. Our man in the stands has taken a look at what our guests can expect to see this weekend.

It is that exciting time of year again, where over 150 cars take on the Nürburgring Nordschleife for 24 hours in an attempt to conquer the world’s toughest circuit through night and day, sun and, most likely at some point, rain! The classification of cars taking part can appear complicated and the garages are certainly crowded, but this all adds to the spectacle.

The SP9 class for GT3 cars; which will almost certainly produce the winner, features no less than 34 of Europe’s best GT teams this time around, spanning seven automotive brands. The marques with the most this year are BMW and Mercedes with ten and seven apiece respectively.

Nurburgring 24BMW will be looking to extend its record of 19 N24 overall wins with the M6 GT3 returning for its second crack at the ‘Ring with Schnitzer, Falken, ROWE, Schubert and Walkenhorst. The driver lineups are stellar across the ROWE, Schnitzer and Schubert entries in particular, with a good mix of N24 veterans and rookies providing the backbone for its effort. It’s been a tough start to the year for the M6 racing on the Nordschliefe though, with its best finish 10th in VLN 2. That won’t necessarily translate to race-week at the Nurburgring though, with Balance of Performance always a factor all the way up until the flag drops on Saturday. The car, while still in its infancy, notably won the Spa 24 Hours last year too, after a disappointing run at last year’s Nurburgring 24. Look out for the Falken team, which is racing with BMW for the first time in its 17-year history at the Nurburgring 24 – and Schnitzer, which took the win back in 2010 for BMW (its last victory) and is back racing in GTs after a handful of seasons in DTM.

Nurburgring 24Mercedes meanwhile, is looking for another dominant run to the finish at the Nurburgring 24 much like in 2016, when its AMG GT3s finished 1-2-3-4 in their first attempt at the race. Globally the AMG GT3 is one of, if not the strongest car in the GT3 ranks, with great speed and reliability, both which are of the utmost importance for the Nurburgring 24. HTP, Black Falcon and Haribo Racing are all back with Mercedes cars, and with another stellar set of drivers are looking to score the Stuttgart-based brand’s third overall victory.

Don’t count out Audi or Porsche though. The other two German marques head to the Nurburgring 24 with the best run of form. Nurburgring 24 stalwarts Manthey Racing bring arguably the strongest lineup to the race, with reining World Endurance Champion and Le Mans winner Romain Dumas and fellow Porsche factory drivers Fred Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz driving its No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R which won VLN 1 and 2. Local favourites Frikadelli Racing and Falken Motorsport make up the remaining teams racing with Porsche in SP9.

Nurburgring 24At Audi, perennial Blancpain frontrunner and 2015 Nurburging 24 winner WRT will bring two R8 LMS GT3s, as will Land Motorsport, which won Germany’s premier GT series (ADAC GT Masters) in 2016 as well as multiple VLN races. Phoenix Racing, which won Audi’s first N24 back in 2012 returns with a single GT3 entry for the Four Rings too, though without factory backing this time. It did win the N24 Qualification Race earlier this month though, and has a formidable quartet of Dennis Busch, Nicolaj Moller Madsen, and Audi stalwarts Mike Rockenfeller and Frank Stippler.

The other three brands are lower in the car count, but will be just as interesting to follow.

Bentley are looking to score a landmark result as the Continental GT3’s lifecycle begins to reach its end. They will race with three Abt entries packed with factory drivers and regional specialists. This year Abt has opted to switch up its tyre partner and race with Yokohama, which could well prove an advantage in certain conditions. It must be noted that Bentley has had a positive start to the season, with second and fourth place finishes in VLN 1 and 2. Everyone back at programme HQ in Crewe will be hoping it can challenge with the frontrunners until the end.

Single Ferrari and Lamborghini entries bring the total to 34 in SP9, with Konrad racing a Huracan GT3 and Blancpain regular Rinaldi Racing operating a Wochenspiegel Team Monshau 488 GT3 for the car’s Nurburging 24 debut.

Nurburgring 24Outside the main interest, there is, of course, plenty of other oddball entries to keep an eye on during the race as well. Two Glickenhaus SCG003Cs will race in SPX against a pair of brand new Audi R8 GT4s run by the aforementioned Phoenix Racing crew. Aston Martin will also compete. Whilst not in SP9 as in recent seasons, the Aston Martin Lagonda team will run two SP8 class Vantages – a  V8 with factory drivers Darren Turner and Nicki Thiim – and a V12.

Nurburgring 24 HoursThe Kissling Opel Manta, with its own cult following is, as ever, on the list, racing a pair of Opel Calibras in SP3 and a pair of Toyota Gazoo Racing Carollas; one of which will be driven by four Thai drivers!

Predicting a winner is always impossible when it comes to the Nurburgring 24, partly because there’s usually 30 cars capable of crossing the line first, and also because the circuit and local climate throws up so many variables. It is strength in numbers though, which is why the German factories come armed with a fleet of their latest kit each year! That’s what makes the Nurburgring 24 a special event. It is pure automotive bliss, supported by the most influential car brands in Europe.

The Nurburgring 24 Hours is a rolling motor show and a week-long festival for the locals, who refuse to let the event become stale, and continue to party in the Eiffel Forest like its 1979.

The Nurburging 24 Hours 2017 is a sell out event for Travel Destinations. However, you can pre-register now for the 2018 Nurburgring 24 Hours by calling 0844 873 0203. You just have to be there!

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar.com

 

Porsche Le Mans prototype 2017

FIA WEC Preview: The Prologue

This last weekend saw the FIA World Endurance Championship Prologue take place at Monza. This was a first chance for the public and the media to see this season’s cars on track and it revealed some insights in to what we may expect in the forthcoming FIA WEC season. As ever, our man in the stands was trackside in Monza and has filed his latest report.

The 2017 LMP2s flexed their muscles
Last week at Monza, for the first time in a public setting, the new breed of LMP2 cars were shown off, and they didn’t disappoint. The new LMP2s are quick, look sleek and are being driven by arguably the best crop of drivers in the category’s history this year. While the FIA WEC LMP2 class doesn’t have any variety in chassis, it won’t detract from the racing. At Monza, the Oreca 07s – in their high downforce configuration – all managed speeds close to 200mph with their Gibson engines, with the best lap time – Bruno Senna’s 1:36.094 – eclipsing the 2008 LMP2 pole time by almost a second. And when it comes to the full season, we expect that figure to rise, especially at Le Mans, as at the Dunlop test before the Prologue one team managed to reach 220mph in the high downforce package.

FIA WEC LMP2

Who knows what can be achieved down the Mulsanne straight this year?
Either way, the important thing to note here is that the LMP2s are likely to be quicker than LMP1 cars in a straight line, which could provide some hairy moments in heavy braking zones. Those images of LMP1 cars skipping past the LMP2 field may be just memories of seasons gone by.

Porsche’s new GTE car impresses
Porsche’s new 911 RSR GTE car continues to impress. It is reliable, and notably fast. Michael Christensen set the quickest time of the Prologue – a 1:47.379 on Saturday – as the team consistently sat at the top the timing screens. The car also ran without any hiccups, racking up a ton of mileage and getting its drivers even more tuned into its new characteristics.

FIA WEC Porsche GTE Pro

While testing times win no awards, they are an indication of what  we can expect to come. For this year the Balance of Performance system has been overhauled for the GTE Pro teams, and at Monza the cars were running with their baseline BoP. So it is first blood for Porsche GT Team heading into Round 1 at Silverstone next week.

LMP1 reliability
Both Porsche and Toyota’s new LMP1 challengers were officially unveiled at Monza and initial signs were good; Not only in their continued advancements in hybrid technology, but in their ability to complete long runs. All four factory LMP1 hybrids on show managed to complete well over 1000km of running over the two days, with the No.2 Porsche 919 clocking up the most mileage from 327 tours of the circuit, which totaled just a fraction under 1,800km.

Porsche LMP1

None of them spent any extended periods in their garage aside from during the thunderstorm on Saturday night, and aside from a couple of brief technical hiccups, there were no dramas on track either. The preparation from both Toyota and Porsche in the off season therefore looks to have paid off, with Porsche confirming it had completed at least one 24-hour test, and Toyota stating that it had completed four 30-hour runs.

After last year’s shaky start to the season on the reliability front, this year could be a turn around, and the races at Silverstone and Spa could turn into sprint races rather than races of attrition & constant niggles.

Dunlop makes further GTE gains
Dunlop has drawn in more interest in the GTE side of its endurance commitments, with both Dempsey Proton Racing and Gulf Racing making the change away from Michelin tyres for this season. Last year Aston Martin Racing took the risk and ran with Dunlop tyres, which at the start of the season left the two Vantages in the GTE Pro class heading into Le Mans with consistency, but not much to show for in the outright pace department. From Mexico onwards though, and with a new compound, Aston Martin made incredible strides, winning races and eventually the Drivers and Teams championship. For this year, Gulf Racing and Proton Racing are hoping for similar results in GTE Am, as their 2015-spec Porsches – and Aston Martin’s No.98 entry – take on the likes of Spirit of Race and Clearwater Racing with their different sets of rubber. The WEC’s GTE tyre war is now in full swing, and should be fascinating to keep tabs on as the season progresses.

Gulf Racing

Monza magic impressed the paddock
This year’s trip to Monza was the first for Le Mans Prototypes in an officially sanctioned event since 2008, and it was greeted positively up and down the paddock. Not only is it a circuit which everyone enjoys making the visit because of its history, but it is a valuable place to test on too. The Paul Ricard circuit, where the Prologue took place in previous years, is hard to test on because of its hard winds and unique surface which is tough to read when It comes to tyre testing. Monza meanwhile provides a good simulation for the teams ahead of Le Mans, and it showed, as most teams made the most of the chance to run their cars on both days.

Fans turned up in their droves too, making for an extremely busy pit walk on both Saturday and Sunday, and giving the grandstands a bit of an atmosphere at times. There’s certainly a case for Monza being put onto the full FIA WEC calendar for a race in the future, which would prove popular with the series’ increasing supporter base.

The FIA World Endurance championship begins with the 6 Hours of Silverstone over the Easter weekend. You can also join us for the following rounds at Spa-Francorchamps in May and then the Nurburgring in July.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Corvette at Le Mans

FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring Preview

What to watch out for at the FIA WEC 6 Hours Nürburgring

The Le Mans hype train may have reached its last stop in 2016, but the FIA WEC’s world tour still has six more rounds to run. Next week the FIA World Endurance Championship runners and riders hit the track for the first time since the Le Mans 24 Hours when the series travels to the Nürburgring for the final European race of the season. Here, our man in the stands, takes a look at some of the main talking points ahead of the fourth round of the 2016 WEC season:

Toyota to Bounce Back
After missing out on winning the race in truly crushing fashion at Le Mans, Toyota Gazoo Racing will be extra motivated to have a strong showing at the Nürburgring as it sets its target to winning the WEC World Championship. The big issue is that the points situation highly favours Porsche in both the manufacturers and drivers championships following Le Mans. Porsche leads the factory points tally by 32 points over Audi and 48 over Toyota, while Le Mans and Silverstone winners Neel Jani, Marc Lieb and Romain Dumas control the drivers standings by 39 points. The Japanese outfit has a mountain to climb in the remaining six rounds if it is to challenge for any sort of trophies this year. But you can bet that they will throw the kitchen sink at it if they have to.

Toyota at FIA WEC 6 Hours of Nurburgring

Ford dominance
Ford’s Le Mans victory was a tale of both triumph and anti-climax. Everyone close to the sport should have been impressed by the Blue Oval coming to Le Mans on its first year back and competing for a win; but instead were left disappointed. Anyone who followed the GTE ‘fiasco’ in any level of detail at Le Mans, knows that in the world of Balance of Performance Ford lapping four to five seconds quicker than the other cars in the Pro class on its way to a 1,3,4 at La Sarthe should never have happened.

Ford win at Le Mans

Had Ford showed such prowess from the Prologue onwards, then the ACO would have surely the been more prepared, but instead, Ford failed to reveal the GT’s capabilities until Le Mans week. You can argue that they played the game well, and they did, but at the detriment of good racing. With that in mind, going into the Nürburgring, the powers that be will have to reign the cars in somewhat dramatically to prevent further uproar. Currently Ford is on a streak though, having won both IMSA GTLM races since Le Mans, meaning the round in Germany could prove to be a crucial one for the future of the GTE Pro class if they are able to win again in convincing fashion.

Aston’s Tactical Shakeup
The sheer amount of changes to many of the driver squads ahead of the 6h Nürburgring is astounding, with some big names joining the action and some losing their drives. Aston’s movements have proved to be the most seismic though. In the AMR stable, both Fernando Rees and Jonny Adam have lost their seats in the No.97 Vantage for the rest of the season. Richie Stanaway will instead be paired up with Darren Turner, leaving Nicki Thiim and Marco Sørenesen to drive the No.95. Not only does it give the four drivers more track time at each circuit, but it spreads the points in both cars, meaning Aston can still win the GT Drivers Title with both entries as it has pilots from the No.95 — which had a better start to the season — in both Vantages.

Aston Martin Racing at Le Mans

Merhi on a charge
With the Manor team improving at each race, it’s surely only a matter of time before the ex-F1 outfit takes its first LMP2 win. At Le Mans, arguably the star of the race in LMP2 was Roberto Merhi, who drove incredibly well in his 24-hour debut. He led the class and took the fight to the best drivers in the 23-strong field early on in the race before a string of issues hampered the team’s chances. The Spaniard looks like a true sportscar star in the making, and should be one to watch throughout the second half the season following his coming out party in June.

Manor Racing at Le Mans

Packed stands
Last year when the WEC held a round at the Nürburgring for the first time, the entire paddock left on Sunday night satisfied with its atmosphere and organisation. The event ran smoothly, the racing was good and most importantly the general public showed up in their droves. There was well over 50 thousand fans trackside at the ‘Ring on race day in 2015, which was incredibly promising to see. Hosting the final European round in one of the Meccas of Motorsport, which coincidentally is a home race for two of the three major manufacturers in LMP1 should be applauded. Keeping up the interest in the WEC each season after Le Mans is imperative in its growth and future stability. So If the weather holds out and the local promoters do their jobs, expect there to be more people watching than last year, and therefore even more positivity going into the next rounds.

Crowds at Le Mans

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photography by Dailysportscar

Nurburgring 24 Hours

Taking on the Nurburgring 24

What It’s Like To Take On The Nürburgring 24 Hours

This year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours was record breaking, with Mercedes finishing 1, 2, 3 & 4 seeing off all threats from the other manufacturers in the race. There were so many talking points, with adverse weather, a few sizeable incidents and an unusually quiet showing from favourites Audi, but the main one was Maro Engel.

At the end of the race, the leading No.29 HTP Mercedes had a comfortable lead of a little under a minute over the No.4 Black Falcon AMG GT3, but the No.29 had to pit for fuel. The splash at the end created a phenomenal final two laps, with both Christian Hohenadel and Engel fighting it out for the lead. In the end Engel pounced at RTL corner on the final tour of the circuit, diving up the inside of Hohenadel, rubbing doors on his way past to take the win. The Black Falcon team were euphoric, HTP staged a protest against the move, and the fans went wild in the stands. If you like drama, it was the perfect way to end a 24-hour race.

Nurburgring 24 Hours

What’s particularly special about the N24 though, is that further down the order there are hundreds of other tales to tell amongst the runners and riders in the 150+ strong grid. Like the story from the up and coming British driver George Richardson, who co-drove Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No.101 PlayStation SP9 class BMW M6 GT3 with non other Gran Turismo creator Kazunori Yamauchi, Max Sandritter and Mathias Henkola.

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours this year was an incredible event, and so much went on. I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of it in the top class. However, like so many of the teams out there, it didn’t go quite to plan.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

Richardson’s car had an off in practice, leaving the team scrambling to rebuild it, just to get it out for Qualifying. This is by no means an odd occurrence at the ‘Green Hell’ 24, which often claims multiple victims in the pre-race sessions. “It delayed everything,” Richardson admits. “It meant the team had to rebuild parts of the car, and for us drivers, we lost a lot of track time.”

Because the lap of the full Nürburgring Nordschliefe is so long, most drivers don’t get many laps in before the race starts anyway, and incredibly, Richardson had zero full laps before getting in mid-race. “Earl Bamber said he had two laps, I can beat that!” He says. “I did just two in and outs because of the problem, and got into the car during the race having to find my feet quickly. The weather at the start of the race was insane, and I felt the end of it, as my first stint was in mixed conditions with a low-hanging fog between Höhe Act and Bergwerk during the night.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

The rain came down in the first hour of the race so hard that multiple cars went off the circuit, on slick tyres out in the forest. Shortly after, the race was stopped as hail came down and froze, leaving many cars stuck trying to climb the final hill to the pit straight. It was truly the most bizarre sequence in motorsport. The ‘Ring is known for its ability to throw all sorts of weather at its drivers, but even that came as a surprise. “When you’re out there in the pitch black and driving in fog, it’s all about instinct and respecting the circuit. Because we didn’t make it into the Top 30 Qualifying session our car didn’t get a blue flashing light on the front windscreen to help you get through traffic during the race. It meant we really had to hustle our way past the other drivers as many of them couldn’t tell that we were in the top class. But we made it through the night, and to the end of the race, despite having an intermittent problem which the team couldn’t fix. We were losing a lot of power throughout the race, but the BMW M6 held up well, and made it to the finish.”

Nurburgring 24 Hours

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours is the world’s toughest race for a driver,” he states. “So to finish is such an achievement in itself. The fans come in numbers, and after being in the thick of it in one of the quickest cars, I really see why. Driving past the campsites, it’s crazy, there’s fireworks going off and you can smell the food being cooked. Atmosphere-wise, there’s nothing like it.”

Richardson’s car crossed the line 22nd, having completed 121 perilous laps of the circuit, but that’s what’s special about the N24. It’s a rugged event, which puts drivers through a challenge unlike any other in motorsport.

2016 was an incredible race, 2017 promises to be just as good, if not better. You can register now with Travel Destinations to be at the Nurburgring 24 Hours 2017. Call 0844 873 0203 to reserve your place now.

Written by Stephen Kilbey
Photos by Dailysportscar

Nurburgring 24hrs

Why go to the Nurburgring 24 Hours?

We asked Stephen Kilbey from Dailysportscar to try and explain why going to the Nurburgring 24 Hours is a must for all race fans. Stephen has lots of experience of visiting the best circuits around the world so is the ideal person to give his opinion.

“To me, the best event of the year is the Le Mans 24 Hours, but the best race of the year is the Nürburgring 24 Hrs.”

“24-hour racing on the full Nürburgring Nordschleife was always somewhat of a hidden gem outside of Germany before the early 2000s, but that’s quickly changed. The evolution of GT regulations in recent years has meant that it’s become an increasingly more internationally recognised motorsport mega-event year-on-year, featuring racing supported by a plethora of manufacturers and top-class drivers.”N24

“The Nürburgring 24 Hours sees everything from an Audi R8 LMS GT3 race on track with an Opel Manta through night and day to take home the most prestigious prizes in German endurance racing. It’s an absolutely astounding race to watch every year, partly because of the variety of cars, partly because of the incredible circuit, partly because of the atmosphere at the track, but also because there’s usually over 30 cars with a legitimate shot at victory.”

“It’s fair to call it the hardest race on the planet to win. And it’s such a mentally and physically draining event to compete in, that it will leave you in awe standing trackside.”

“The main draw of spectating at the N24 over watching it on the TV is that the circuit is so vast, that it can take you 24 hours to get round all the spectator zones. It’s a unique experience exploring the Nordschleife, but that’s part of its charm and the reason why most hardened fans make the trip every year. The circuit features just about every type of corner you can imagine, and the views you’ll get to see of them as an attendee are staggering.”

“It’s an incredibly fan friendly event in that respect, as you can get incredibly close to the cars at certain parts of the lap, and enjoy the company of the colossal amount of other people there to celebrate what’s now considered to be a true celebration of motorsport in Germany.”

“It can be hard to navigate the circuit at first, so definitely grab a map of the roads and spectator areas before the race and plan a route to stick to. Once you get the hang of the perimeter roads and shuttle bus system though, you’ll realise that it’s not that difficult to find good places to watch from.”

N24 Night

“Staying at Camping am Nürburgring I can say from experience, makes it much easier if you haven’t camped at the N24, the camping in the forests can be chaotic and require you to get to the track and set up long in advance if you want a good space. The N24 can seem like an overwhelming race to attend and camp at because of its scale, but the site Travel Destinations offers is situated in one of the more peaceful and stress-free areas of the Nürburgring in terms of accommodation: the bottom of the GP loop.”

“By staying there, it’s a more structured and organised camping experience. Camping am Nürburgring is a site that’s open year round, and run by a very friendly group of people. Not only do you get easy access to on-site food and entertainment there, but you’re also in walking access to circuit from your pitches. Being close to the GP loop paddock and main grandstands is especially handy too; as it’s the best place to watch the start and end of the race.”

“My advice? Soak up the grid walk before the race (which is free for ticket-holders), dash to the Bilstein Tribune at Turn 1 while the cars are on the parade lap and witness the roar of the cars come past in batches for the first time. After that, head on to the Nordschleife and soak up the atmosphere that the core German fans create. Fireworks, barbecues, crazy scaffolding setups – you name it, the people who attend regularly build it. Pflanzgarten, the Karussell, Brünnchen and Hatzenbach in particular are all astonishing places to watch a motor race, so if you can, try and make it to those areas to really see the cars and drivers work hard.”

N24 grid

“You’d be hard pressed to find a better place to drink alcoholic beverages, eat good food and watch cars than the Nürburgring. I think you’d be incredibly unlucky to leave the circuit after the race disappointed. If you love endurance racing, the N24 is a must-see bucket list event and now is as good a time as ever to go. This year, Bentley, Aston Martin, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi and BMW will all be present with factory-backed machinery, so the racing is set to be spectacular. If you’ve never stood in the forests of the Eiffel region and witnessed 150+ cars GT and touring cars race through the night, then you really do need to…”

Travel Destinations can offer you a great chance to be at this year’s race. We have limited availability for our travel, ticket and camping offer from the 26th – 30th May. Travel Destinations have a private area reserved within the Camping am Nurburgring area reserved exclusively for our customers and managed by our staff. Book your place now by calling our reservation staff on 0844 873 0203.

Ford

Looking forward to 2016

The Four Biggest Endurance Racing Stories of 2016

Okay so that’s a rather arrogant assertion, there are bound to be stories through this year that eclipse some of those below but to do so they’ll have to be very big indeed!

1- Ford – 50 Years on
The Blue Oval is back and this is no badge engineering stunt.
The new Ford GT is a GT racing mould breaker, the first of a brand new breed of n few generation GTE cars.
It’s very clear that Ford’s turbo V6 engined ‘halo’ hyper car has been designed first as a racer and THEN as a road car.  It’s attention to aerodynamic detail is astounding, and whilst the front of the car pays homage to its grandaddy, the iconic 1960s Ford GT40, the 2016 version has a rear end like no other road car, ever!
So that ticks the boxes for the car fans, but the racing fans get an even better treat – two huge programmes, one in North America, and the other in the full FIA WEC, both with a pair of cars apiece, will come together for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.
If Ford’s plans come together we should see four of these extraordinary cars battling it out with their decades long racing rivals from Ferrari (who have their own new turbo-engined 488) Porsche, Aston Martin and Corvette
This could be the year when GT racing joins LMP1 in the headlines!

2 – Bigger Grid at Le Mans
2016 will see a bigger grid than ever before at the Le Mans 24 Hours as the ACO start a two year programme to build the grid to 60 cars.
This year will see a staging post towards that aim, 58 cars should start, after a maximum of 56 to this point.
OK we are going to have a couple off fewer factory cars than anticipated, economic pressures on Porsche and Audi and the withdrawal of the popular but underperforming Nissan effort have seen to that but the strength in depth across the world of endurance racing should see an astounding mix of prototype and GT cars in June, and with some new spectator viewing areas being installed at Indianapolis there could be some of the best views in years available.
More cars, more variety, Do not stay home in June!

3 – War at the Nurburgring
The Nurburgring 24 Hours is always a spectacle, but 2016 should be very special indeed.
Why?
Because it is one of the biggest races in Germany, and every significant German GT car manufacturer has brand new product to sell.
Audi debuted their new R8 last year and won, but now BMW (M6 GT3), Mercedes Benz (AMG GT3) and Porsche (911 GT3 R) all have new toys to field too, and in this market, both for marque prestige and bragging rights, and for car sales, nothing matters more.
It matters enough to Porsche that they have preferred preserving this programme to their WEC GTE effort in 2016 to mount a full house, two car all factory driver effort under the icily effective auspices of Olaf Manthey.
Add into the mix confirmed multi car factory efforts from both Aston Martin and Bentley, and more potential factory contenders too and this could be something truly spectacular.
And that’s before we have even mentioned the track, the biggest, baddest, most challenging and yes most dangerous road racing course on the planet.
Work has been done around the circuit to enable the organisers to lift the localised speed restrictions so now it is going to be about who has built the better GT3 weapon.
Multi car teams packed with factory drivers can be guaranteed – If you haven’t seen this race live then honestly what are you waiting for – This is THE year to go.

4 – The British Are Coming!
Moves in the close season to reshuffle the pack have left patriotic British sportswear racing fans with an embarrassment of riches.
In the FIA WEC there are likely to be no fewer than nine British factory drivers stretched across LMP1 (Oliver Jarvis at Audi, Anthony Davidson and Mike Conway at a resurgent Toyota) and GTE Pro (Ferrari: James Calado and Sam Bird, Ford Marino Franchitti and Andy Priaulx, Aston Martin Darren Turner and Jonny Adam)
Add to that little lot Oliver Gavin (Corvette), Richard Westbrook (Ford) and 2015 overall winner Nick Tandy (Porsche) for Le Mans, all in GTE Pro and by god there might just be some singing of the National Anthem for the podium!

And beyond those three there’s more to look forward to too.
The FIA WEC adds a ninth round with Mexico City joining the calendar. If that’s too rich for your travelling blood then the astonishingly entertaining European Le Mans Series has also added a race, up to six for 2016 as the Series visit Spa in October.
There are more opportunities than ever to see better endurance racing with better cars and better teams in more places than at any time in living memory – Go on, treat yourself, get off the couch and pick up the phone – I’ll see you in the paddock!

Graham Goodwin (www.dailysportscar.com)

Porsche

Mid season for FIA WEC

Graham Goodwin looks back at the last FIA WEC round at the Nurburgring and what we learnt from on the track and in the paddock.

The FIA WEC’s first race at the Nurburgring proved to be a great success. A highly believable 62,000 attendees over the three day weekend at a mainly sunny and slickly organised meeting ensured that when we hear about the 2016 calendar later this month at the Circuit of the Americas we’re likely to see the German track back on the schedule for a second year, though likely a little earlier in the year to reduce the gap after Le Mans.

On track there were dominant performances from Porsche in LMP1, a first ever 1,2 from the Porsche 919s in a 6 hour race with the No.17 of Timo Bernhard, Brendon Hartley and Mark Webber taking full advantage of mid race woes for the sister No.18 car which was penalised three times for excessive use of fuel, this after Neel Jani had romped off into the distance at the start.

A combined total of 95 seconds of penalties, Plus a further 90 seconds taken for the three runs down the pit lane to serve those penalties, saw the No.17 gain a lap lead and the No.18 fall back to fourth.

Thereafter though the Porsche fought back hard with some fantastic battling with the pair of defending Audis.

It proved though to be an unequal struggle and in the closing stages the 1/2 for Porsche was confirmed.

LMP 2 saw a dominant performance by KCMG, the Hong Kong based team running away at the front from the start courtesy of a very quick No.47 Oreca 05 Nissan with 2015 overall Le Mans winner Nick Tandy pulling away from the chasing Sam Bird.

The hard fought advantage though disappeared as the car was balked at Tandy’s final stop, the KCMG team needing to push the car back to the fuel rig for service.

Matt Howson though fought back to the lead and then Richard Bradley pulled out a huge advantage for Tandy to defend to the flag. The G Drive Ligiers completed the podium with the SARD Morand Morgan coming home 4th after spending part of the meeting impounded after the team failed to pay an early season catering bill.

In the race though the car went well with regular drivers Oliver Webb and Pierre Ragues joined by young Brit Archie Hamilton.

The GT classes saw trouble for the championship leading No.51 Ferrari, The car stopping in the first hour with electrical problems then suffering a further delay before the AF Corse found a solution.

The pro race ended with another Porsche 1/2, but only after a controversial incident that saw the second No.71 Ferrari suffer damage after substantial contact from the No.92 Porsche as the race went Full course yellow.

The Am class saw another Le Mans winner take the honours, the Russian flagged SMP Racing Ferrari consolidating its points lead in the championship.

The Nurburgring race saw a pair of overall Le Mans winners from this years race competing and, oddly neither of them were racing an LMP1 car as Nick Tandy raced to the win in LMP2, and Earl Bamber joined Abu Dhabi Proton in their Porsche, a move which brought a unique moment during the German race with Porsche factory drivers leading the race in every class.

The WEC moves into its flyaway staged now with the next race later this month at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas.

That race meeting sees the World Championship on the same bill as the US-based Tudor United Sportscar Championship, both races taking place on a Saturday with the American race in the morning and the WEC racing into darkness.

There was more good news for the future of the WEC at the Nurburgring as more details emerged of further commitment to the championship from the existing LMP 1 teams.

All three currently active factory teams look set to bring entirely new cars to the track next season with Porsche confirming commitment through to 2018, Toyota confirming their new car, with a new twin turbo V6 and battery based ERS system and commitment to 2017 ” at a minimum” and Audi, though more diplomatic in stating length of commitment, also confirming a new car, Long rumoured to also adopt a battery ERS system, with paddock sources suggesting they too will be in the WEC until 2018 at the least.

In LMP2 were waiting to see any details of the new cars proposed from Dallara and Riley/ Multimatic. The American car allegedly already has multiple buyers and whilst some sources have suggested that the Italian concern has struggled to come up with a convincing commercial case for their entry into the LMP2 chassis market, Industry insiders have suggested that the effort is well on track.

Next up in the preparation for the new LMP2 scene in 2017 is the announcement, due imminently, of the supplier selected for the standard engine which will power all cars in the WEC, and most, it is planned, in the future ELMS

In the GT ranks the manufacturers are rushing to prepare their 2016 machinery for a mandatory test session at Michelin’s Ladoux test facility in France later this month.

That test will include not only the brand-new Ford GT but also the new Ferrari 488, and revised cars from Porsche, Aston Martin, and Corvette, together with, If plans come together, the USA only BMW M6 GTLM, this an upgraded version of BMW’s forthcoming M6 GT3.

Written by Graham Goodwin

FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

Home win for Porsche

Porsche claimed a 1–2 victory ahead of fellow German rivals Audi in the 4th round of the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) held at the famous Nurburgring this weekend. A large crowd of more than 62,000 race fans across the weekend witnessed the No. 17 Porsche driven by Mark Webber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley take the win ahead of their sister car and the No. 7 Audi.

Start of the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

The Nurburgring’s 3 mile F1 circuit is relatively short and twisty compared to Le Mans, where these cars last went head to head, so traffic management was as much a key as straight line speed for all the prototype teams. At the start of the race the pole position Porsche (no. 18) with Neel Jani at the wheel took advantage of clean air to quickly build a 20 second lead at the front. The No. 17 Porsche pitted early with nose cone damage, that dropped them down the order, but they were quick to regain ground with Audi unable to capitalise.

Problems began for the leader on the 54th lap. A problem with an engine sensor caused the car to consume more fuel than officially allowed, so they were penalised with a series of stop and go penalties until the problem was sorted. Clearly it was not an easy problem to fix as 3 increasingly long penalties were awarded by race control, dropping the No. 18 Porsche down the field.

If evidence were needed that Toyota were a long way of the pace, even after the penalties the No. 18 Porsche rejoined in 4th place, behind the Audis and still ahead of the Toyotas. The battle was then on in the remaining hours for second place, with the two Audis being reeled in by the charging Porsche. Eventually the Audi’s could not defend their positions and with 45 minutes left on the clock Porsche regained their 1-2 al be it with the No. 17 car in the lead. This was how it finished with Porsche celebrating from the top 2 steps of the podium in front of their home crowd.

KCMGat the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburging

The LMP2 was dominated by the KCMG Oreca of Nick Tandy, Matt Howson and Richard Bradley. The started the race from pole and maintained that position throughout most of the race. A slow pit stop in the first half the race opened the door slightly for the 2 G-Drive Ligiers, but they couldn’t take advantage and eventually settled for second and third position in class.

GTE Pro field at the FIA WEC 6 Hours of the Nurburgring

There were lots of smiling faces on the Porsche fans at the Nurburgring as the German manufacturer secured another 1-2 in the GTE Pro class. The No. 91 car driven by Michael Christensen and Richard Lietz, claimed the win ahead of their No. 92 sister car. The 2 Porsches benefited from electrical troubles suffered by the championship leading AF Corse Ferrari (No. 51), that ground to a halt within 15 minutes of the start of the race. Although the car was recovered to the pits and did rejoin they were always laps down from the leaders. The sister Ferrari (No.71) did keep the fight going and despite some bodywork damage and a puncture managed to hold on and climbed the third spot on the podium.

SMP Racing Ferrari

The No. 72 SMP Racing Ferrari managed to build on their Le Mans win with another victory in the GTE Am class at the Nurburgring. They were pushed all the way by the No. 98 Aston Martin that eventually finished only 30 seconds behind in second place. These two cars traded the lead between them as they worked through their different race strategies but they were always ahead of the rest of the field. The No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari claimed third spot, narrowly edging out the No. 77 Dempsey Proton Porsche.

The FIA World Endurance Championship now moves away from Europe with the first stop being the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas. That race will take place on the 19th September and we also expect the provisional 2016 calendar to be announced during the event.

Written by Richard Webb
Photography by Dailysportscar

Attritional Nurburgring 24 Hours 2015 ends with Audi win

Nurburgring 24 Hours ends with Audi win

The Nurburgring 24 Hours 2015 will be remembered both for the close finish and for the number of retirements that always kept the result in some doubt. In the end just 40 seconds separated the winning Audi from the runner-up BMW. Indeed over the last few hours the lead changed numerous times between the 2 cars, but in the end superior fuel and tyre economy saw the Audi home.

The first few hours of the race saw a number of significant retirements, including last year’s winners Phoenix Racing (Audi) and previous winners Black Falcon (Mercedes). A wet or drying circuit, with oil in places made for difficult racing conditions at times causing a high number of retirements throughout the race, including some, heartbreakingly in the last hour of the race.

The Audi R8 LMS managed a brilliant 24-hour racing debut by clinching victory at the Nürburgring. Audi only unveiled its GT3 race car ten weeks ago – now the production-based sports car impressed in a tough battle that lasted up to the last hour of the race. In the end, Audi Sport Team WRT with Christopher Mies/Nico Müller/Edward Sandström/Laurens Vanthoor (D/CH/S/B) was 40 seconds faster than the BMW Team Marc VDS.The battle for victory in the Eifel endurance race has not been as thrilling as this in a long time. During the 24 hours the lead changed 35 times – a record in the event that has been held since 1970.

After the race’s midpoint, either the number ‘28’ R8 LMS or its fiercest rival was running in front, depending on the pit stop sequence. In the end, the Belgian Audi team prevailed with a concentrated performance of its drivers and solid teamwork. Vincent Vosse’s squad and each of the four race drivers celebrated their first victory in this classic event.“This was a weekend of thrilling racing, as well as an intense and nerve-wracking one,” said Romolo Liebchen, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Sincere congratulations to our winners who never lost their cool even in the face of some minor irregularities and held up to the pressure.

The whole squad of Audi Sport customer racing is happy to see the new R8 LMS instantly delivering on our promise of it being a competitive, attractive and reliable race car our customers can look forward to starting this fall.”Vincent Vosse was delighted about another success of his young team: “We’ve already won the Spa 24 Hours with Audi and now we achieved success on the Nürburgring as well. My thanks for this go to a motivated squad, four talented drivers and to Audi Sport customer racing for their solid support. We’re very happy that we can thank Audi by taking the first 24-hour victory of the new race car.”About 50 percent of the GT3 race car is based on its production counterpart it simultaneously celebrated its debut with in March at the Geneva Motor Show.

Four new Audi R8 LMS cars were on the grid of the 24-hour race. Last year’s winners Christopher Haase/Christian Mamerow/René Rast/Markus Winkelhock in car number ‘1’ of Audi Sport Team Phoenix led the race several times but were forced to retire following an accident by Christian Mamerow. The German was hospitalised for observation. In the sister car, number ‘4,’ Mike Rockenfeller spun on track due to an oil spill shortly before the race’s midpoint. He was hit by another car that was following him, causing damage to the Audi that was too severe for continuing the race.

The second race car of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT saw the checkered flag in seventh place. Accident damage had caused Pierre Kaffer (D) and his team-mates Christer Jöns (D), Nicki Thiim (DK) and Laurens Vanthoor (B) to lose three laps in the early stage. However, with good lap times, this driver quartet proved the competitiveness of the Audi R8 LMS as well.The time-tested Audi R8 LMS ultra model – the 2012 and 2014 winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours – completed the good result. Team Twin Busch Motorsport with Dennis Busch/Marc Busch/Christiaan Frankenhout (D/D/NL) saw the finish in 11th place, followed by the Audi race experience. The Asian driver line-up of Franky Congfu Cheng/Marchy Lee/Shaun Thong/Alex Yoong (CN/HK/HK/MAL) achieved 12th place whereas the sister car retired after an accident.

Nurburgring 24 Hours 2015 Result
1 Mies/Müller/Sandström/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS), 156 laps
2 Luhr/Martin/Palttala/Westbrook (BMW) + 40.729s
3 Dumbreck/Henzler/Imperatori/Ragginger (Porsche) – 1 lap
4 Adorf/Catsburg/Farfus/Müller (BMW) – 1 lap
5 Buurman/Al Faisal/Haupt/van Lagen (Mercedes) – 1 lap
6 Cerruti/Edwards/Keilwitz/Laser (BMW) – 3 laps
7 Jöns/Kaffer/Thiim/Vanthoor (Audi R8 LMS) – 3 laps
8 Brück/Primat/Schmid/Seefried (Bentley) – 5 laps
9 Buncombe/Hoshino/Krumm/Ordonez (Nissan) – 5 laps
10 Heyer/Huff/Frommenwiler/Krognes (Mercedes) – 5 laps