Nürburgring Thursday Notebook – Sportscar365
***Both Audi Sport Customer Racing’s GT3 and TCR divisions are in action this weekend as the FIA WTCR Series once again supports the Nürburgring 24. Audi celebrated the occasion with a group photo on the pit straight.
***Phoenix Racing’s N24-winning 2014 and 2019 Audi R8s also joined the gathering and will be on display this weekend on ring°boulevard, alongside the winning 2016 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
***In addition to Mercedes-AMG, Porsche a group picture on the Grand Prix circuit in front of his N24 defence. The German brand has a total of 46 cars in the race.
***Organiser ADAC Nordrhein published an updated entry list on Thursday. 135 cars should now take part. The #96 PROsport Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 that appeared on the original entry list was a reserve car and was removed. The Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport with the starting number 259 and the Opel Manta will no longer be shown.
***Audi works driver Dennis Marschall was drafted into the number 23 Lionspeed by Car Collection Motorsport alongside Dennis Fetzer, Klaus Koch and Simon Reicher.
***Maximilian Hacklander has joined Konrad Motorsport and will share the team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo with Michele di Martino, Axcil Jefferies and Jordan Pepper. Hacklander has raced Audi and Porsche machines in the last two ADAC GT Masters seasons but is new to Lamborghini.
***Thomas Neubauer, Michael Schrey and Marcel Lenerz are driving the FK Performance BMW M4 GT4 with starting number 78 next to Ben Green, who was on the original entry list. Notably, Neubauer is set for his GT4 debut, having recently honed his craft in GT3.
***Haupt Racing Team has added a fourth driver, Marvin Dienst, to their Bilstein-backed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo #6. Dienst had his last N24 outing two years ago in the SP7 class.
***Service is scheduled for only his third race this year. It is understood that the German’s upgrade from Silver to Gold status by SRO Motorsports Group, while remaining FIA Silver, prevented Toksport WRT from winning a Silver Cup crew in the Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup in which Dienst would have been involved. Toksport then switched to Porsche and refocused its GT3 program on the Nürburgring.
***The Haupt Racing Team intends to add a fourth Mercedes-AMG to its stable for the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa, however according to Team CEO Ulrich Fritz it will not be in the Pro category. HRT already runs three AMGs full-time in the GTWC Europe Endurance Cup: two in the Silver and one in the Gold Cup. Mercedes-AMG is pushing for an additional third Pro entry for the July race.
***BMW M Motorsport Director Andreas Roos says the manufacturer has no concrete plans yet to arrange more Pro entries for the Spa 24 Hours. “We’re not there yet, but it’s still on our radar,” he told Sportscar365. “We’d really like to do it, but there are some facts and figures to gather. We just want to do that [N24] and then go back to the discussions.”
***BMW appears likely to use its 2023 M4 GT4 in more races as part of its development program prior to homologation: “We are in these discussions as to whether we can run other racing series that it fits into,” said Roos.
***Patric Niederhauser described a 10kg BoP weight reduction for the Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs as “not that much” but the manufacturer is “not that concerned” about where it sits heading into the event. “It’s always a bit blah blah blah for the race, but we didn’t look super strong and weren’t overly confident about raw pace,” he told Sportsar365. “We have a good package overall: the customer vehicles are also very competitive in terms of driving.”
***Niederhauser explained that the lower torque of the V10 Audi engine can make it harder for the R8s to hit the Dottingerhöhe and challenge in racing situations. “In terms of speed, we will be okay. In racing we have to see where we end up,” he said.
***Patrick Pilet will be driving two cars on the N24 for the first time after Lars Kern moved away from the Falken Motorsports setup due to a late driver line-up change. Pilet told Sportscar365 that the experience “will be intense” but he’s also looking forward to doubling his chances of winning. The Frenchman won the race in 2018.
*** It is understood that Ayhancan Guven was originally set to drive the No. 25 Huber-Porsche, but the Turkish racer is now in a Porsche 911 GT3 Cup run by the Frikadelli Racing Team.
***Two-time DTM Champion Timo Scheider has joined Iron Force Racing by Phoenix to support the team in the all-Porsche Cup 2 class. Scheider was part of the Phoenix Racing crew that won the Nürburgring 24 in 2003 with an Opel Astra V8 Coupé.
***Sheldon van der Linde said that his task will be to get the number 98 BMW M4 GT3 into the second top qualifying session. “We have four slots left and it’s my job to get us there. So my work really doesn’t start until tomorrow, to be honest.”
***Entries from Toyota Gazoo Racing Team Thailand help give the race an international flavor. Since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, arrivals from abroad have been few and far between. The pair of Toyota Corolla Altis cars have been prepared at Ring Racing’s workshop in Germany, while the people driving them this weekend have flown in from Southeast Asia.
***This weekend a new exhibition on the life and racing career of Sabine Schmitz opens in the ringwerk°museum. The installation “Queen of the Nürburgring – Child of the Eifel” shows personal and sporting experiences of Schmitz, who died of cancer last year at the age of 51.
*** There are some notable names in the field for this weekend’s support race of the touring car legends, including former DTM champions Klaus Ludwig and Kurt Thiim as well as GT racer Stefan Mücke. Ludwig, who has three titles to his name, drives a Mercedes C-Class while 1986 champion Thiim sits in a ProSport Racing Volvo 240T. Muecke, on the other hand, is behind the wheel of a Ford Mustang DTM.
***Nürburgring 24 expert Volker Strycek, whose participation in the Opel Manta was withdrawn due to a workshop fire prior to the event, has found a ride in the number 87 Opel Astra OPC, which competes in the VT2 class.
***A third and final full-field qualifying session will take place on Friday, beginning at 2:10 p.m. CEST (8:10 a.m. ET) and lasting one hour. The two top qualifying sessions follow, in which the first 10 rows of the N24 grid are determined. Top Qualifying 1 begins at 5:50 p.m. (11:50 a.m. ET).
***Live streaming of all sessions can be found on the official Nürburgring circuit and N24 event YouTube channels, with English and German commentary options.
Davey Euwema contributed to this report