As a part of the two-day FIA World Endurance Championship test at the Nürburgring, several key players in the series spoke at a press conference about their expectations for the fourth round of the series, to be held at the Eifel circuit on the last weekend of August.
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA WEC, was buoyant about the series’ first event on German soil.
“The Nürburgring is one of the legendary venues of the sport,” he said. “Over the last years, I have never had any meeting with [Porsche board member] Wolfgang Hatz without him telling me how much we need a round in Germany, and with [Audi’s head of motorsport] Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich, it was likewise.
“We are delighted that we have come to an agreement with the Nürburgring management and the DMSB to stage the race here. It will be a true celebration for sports cars in Germany.”
Carsten Schumacher, managing director of the Nürburgring, said: “For us, it is a great opportunity to be able to add another chapter to the history of endurance racing here at the Nürburgring. We are determined to make this event a success and we are really looking forward to it.”
A total of 20 cars have taken to the track Monday and Tuesday for an open test, organized by Toyota, which has given valuable track time ahead of the Aug. 28-30 event.
Two-time Le Mans winner Hans-Joachim Stuck will serve as Grand Marshal for the race.
“On one hand, I am very honored by this, but on the other hand, when you are being asked to become Grand Marshal, it also means that you are getting old!” Stuck said.
“I have fond memories of the great endurance races that took place at the Nürburgring, sometimes with 150,000 or 200,000 spectators.
“For me, the place is very special: I drove my first lap there at the age of nine and I also drove my last race there.”
Ullrich, meanwhile, remembers the American Le Mans Series race that took place at the circuit 12 years ago.
“It was a very special race, but the weather was very bad,” he said. “Hopefully, it will be better this time.
“I am convinced that we will get to see a great race at the Nürburgring. Germany has been waiting for a long time to have its own round of the FIA WEC, and now, we are there.”
Andreas Seidl, head of operations of Porsche’s LMP1 team, spoke about the boost his team got out of winning the Le Mans 24 Hours.
“Even now, we are still smiling,” Seidl said. “But there is no time to rest on our laurels: two days after Le Mans, we already got the next job list.
“Of course, winning Le Mans was a big boost for the entire team, but now, our focus is entirely on the next race. We are expecting a close fight again.”
Porsche works driver Timo Bernhard emphasized the fact that, without a German Formula 1 Grand Prix this year, the FIA WEC is the most prestigious motor race in Germany this season.
“I hope that all the fans who would normally have gone to the Grand Prix will now change their minds and come to see the FIA WEC,” he said.
Speaking for Toyota, defending World Champion Sébastien Buemi said: “Our team’s home base is in Cologne, less than one hour down the road from here, so for us, it is a home race as well.
“We have been working hard to improve the car (since Le Mans). The track is a little bit similar to Silverstone, where you need a lot of downforce.”
The race will also again see American flavor, with the Tequila Patron ESM team as well as Patrick Dempsey, who returns to action following his emotional podium finish at Le Mans.
“As a kid, I dreamt about going to this place, and now, I am actually here,” Dempsey said. “When you arrive here and see all the history, it is awesome!
“That is so nice about racing, the opportunity you get to travel the world, to get to know different cultures and people. And then being able to race here is fantastic!”