The 24h Nürburgring Qualifying Race is an all-new event organized by the ADAC Nordrhein. The main objective of this race is to give the drivers and teams an optimum testing opportunity before the 24h Race in June. Over the weekend the teams had 15 hours on the track for testing and adjusting their cars under pretty much all characteristic 24h Race conditions. Especially the night session was very appealing to most drivers. No wonder many of the top teams and favorites for the overall win entered competition.
On the foggy and cold Saturday morning the teams got the chance to test and prepare their cars on the GP track.
On the morning everything was still looking good for the German Falken Motorsports division. After a few laps on the GP course, they started to prepare their Porsche 911 GT3 R for the afternoon sessions. Unfortunately, Peter Dumbreck crashed the car in the early afternoon. He rolled the car very hard at Tiergarten, and the chassis was irreparably damaged.
The Schubert Motorsport team equipped their Z4s with new headlamps on Saturday morning. The lights as seen above have been replaced by BMW laser lights. The brightness has been increased by over 40 percent compared to the lights used before.
Before sending out the drivers on the track you have to make sure that everything works as it should.
‘We have to warm up the engine and transmission, as well we have to check all sensors and wirings; in other words we do a general function test,’ says Thomas Hirche from Schulze Motorsport.
The young and very talented Jordan Tresson made his first laps behind the wheel of the R35 GT3.
LB: It looked quite wet when you were out on the track, how was the grip level?
Jordan Tresson: The grip level was Okay for wet conditions, there is generally not many surprise on the GP track. And it quickly dried out, I only did 10 laps on wets despite 5 would have been enough before putting on the slicks.
After Jordan’s laps, it was time for Gran Turismo lead developer Kazunori Yamauchi to take his place in the driver seat.
The Nissan GT-R GT3 is a mighty 540hp monster; the 3.8 V6 twin-turbo puts an impressive 612Nm to the wheels.
At 11:00 AM the function-test session ended. The Schulze mechanics did a quick wash before the afternoon practice sessions started.
The function orientated and yet very clean interior of the GT-R GT3 never fails to amaze me.
With today’s cars getting more and more complex and electronically sophisticated, analyzing data is one the team’s main tasks. Everything needs to be checked before, during and after the race.
With every minute going by the conditions got better and better. By early afternoon the track was completely dry and allowed the team to go from wets…
With almost no time pressure, the drivers were relaxed and had enough time to chat with media representatives and spectators.
In the afternoon the cars finally used the whole track. From the 73 corners to choose from, I decided to go to the Karussell. After a 30 minute hike through the forest I arrived at the place of desire. I was not been disappointed at all!!
The entry to the Karussell is very spectacular. The GT3 cars reach almost 200kph before braking very hard and dropping into the inside of one of best known corners in the world of Motorsport.
The 24h of Dubai winning HTP Motorsport team was also present at the Ring. Their Mercedes-Benz SLS was particularly spectacular. During the second qualifying session they lapped the Ring in impressive 8:20.835 minutes, earning them the pole position!
The German cars were clearly dominating over the whole weekend. The Belgian Marc VDS team entered competition with two BMW Z4 GT3s and superb drivers, including Maxime Martin and Uwe Alzen.
From a photographer’s point of view the exit of the Karussell is very attractive; you have a nice vantage point and the cars tend to jump out quite spectacular.
Five Audi R8 LMS cars completed the German GT3 offensive.
There is nothing compared to racing into the night, the darkness, sharpens your senses, everything gets more intense, you are blinded by the unbelievable bright lights, you hear the roaring of the ridiculous loud engines from miles away, you smell the gasoline, and it’s simply beautiful!
Racing in the darkness also means that it’s time for long exposures. Wehrseifen, a second gear turn, is the slowest corner of the track. I love it!
The night qualifying ended at around 9:00 PM, and for the teams the day was still far from being finished. The Schulze Team decided to change the suspension setup before the second qualifying and race on the following day.
For sure the mechanics have done a great job, which Jordan Tresson proved on Sunday morning. In only 8:31.908 minutes he made it around the 25 kilometer long track.
LB: Jordan, your lap times are very very impressive, even more regarding the little experience you have with the R35 GT3. How close to the limit of the car do you think have you been?
Jordan Tresson: Thank you! After the data analysis, I estimate it to around 5 seconds. But it is mainly due to the lack of experience with the car and the brakes are really really hard (120 kg of pressure on the big brakings) to get used to. And the way to drive it with the torque is also really unusual as the car really likes the low revs with the torque it has.
Sunday, 12:00 AM, race start. For the next six hours the Nürburgring will turn into one of the most beautiful places in the world. I spent the first 30 minutes at Hatzenbach. Hatzenbach is one of the best places for spectators, as you can observe every car during a long time.
When you are already at Hatzenbach, I strongly recommend you to make the 10 minute walk to the Flugplatz!
The beautiful Black Falcon SLS was one the few cars able to keep up with the Z4s.
The Schulze GT-R was temporarily running in 5th position. Unfortunately one of the two turbos stopped working after four hours of intense racing.
I really enjoyed shooting the Z4s. They are such beautiful cars! But they are not only great looking; no, they also sound fantastic. I absolutely love the sound of the high revving 4.4L V8!
Without doubt, the German crowd loves the BMW too.
The G-Drive Audi R8 LMS GT3 was also running very strong. Their fastest lap time during the race was 8:30.740.
The Schubert Z4 with the #20 marked an almost identical lap time with 8:30.719.
LB: Despite the turbo failure, are you satisfied with the weekend?
Jordan Tresson: Overall yes. Of course, it’s a shame to have had this issue because I think we would have had finished in the top 10. I am quite satisfied with my lap times and I have discovered the track by night which will be useful for the 24h. And moreover, we have managed to get the blue flash as we finished in the top 10 in qualifying.
The race was slowly coming to an end, the Rotek team was comfortably leading the SP4T class. The team showed an unbelievable performance, they have been faster than a few GT3 cars! Fastest lap time: 8:49.474
The last hour turned into a close battle between the four BMW Z4s. The #20 as seen above finished second.
LB: What is your favorite Nordschleife section?
Jordan Tresson: My favorite section is, I guess like many drivers, Wipperman. The car flows naturally in theses corners. Overall, I really love the part from Hohe Acht to Galgenkopf because you have a good pace in all theses corners. My second favorite section is Hatzenbach but I do love all the track !
The Marc VDS car with the #26 finished on 4th position. It really was a successful weekend for the Belgian team.
The Black Falcon SLS AMG GT3 finished 5th, less than a minute behind the #26 Marc VDS BMW.
Nürburgring Greenhorn Felix Baumgartner successfully completed his first race on the Ring. His teammates and he finished in 14th position.
Maxime Martin, Marco Wittmann and Uwe Alzen crossed the finish line first. It was a well deserved win for the hard working Marc VDS Team!