David Pittard says he had a brainstorming session to discuss which bumps are “not as bad” on the Nürburgring Nordschleife after returning to the track in the real-world after months of sim racing.
The Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie (NLS) had its pre-season test on Monday, with more than 50 cars reportedly showing up, including a number of GT3 teams.
Manthey Racing, Walkenhorst Motorsport, ROWE Racing, Falken Motorsport, Frikadelli Racing, Phoenix Racing and Schnitzer Motorsport were all present in what was one of the first days of real-world track action since the COVID-19 pandemic brought a stop to racing in March.
Pittard and Mikkel Jensen shared driving duties in Walkenhorst Motorsport’s BMW M6 GT3 across the day’s track action as both drivers returned to the cockpit of a real-world race car following hundreds of hours of esports racing in the downtime.
Both Pittard and Jensen approached the day very differently to how they usually would considering the circumstances.
“Normally you do your prep work on the sim but we were sat in the office on Monday morning in the truck and we’ve been spending so much time on the sim we had to approach the test the complete opposite way around,” Pittard told Sportscar365.
“We had to work out which bumps are simulated on iRacing and which bumps are real on the track; we were going back through the onboard thinking, ‘Now you can take that curb there, that bump is not as bad as it is in the game so we don’t have to worry about that.’
“All sorts of crazy things like that. We never thought we’d have this sort of discussion about how to get back on track properly.
“It was a nice pressure-free test day. It was very good of the NLS to do that so everyone could get their eye in and get plenty of laps in.”
The resumption of real-world track action is a welcome return for Englishman Pittard, who continues to work closely with Walkenhorst Motorsport.
Now based in Germany, closer to the team, Pittard says strapping on the helmet is “definitely something I’ve been looking forward to for a long time.”
“The sim racing for me has become quite frustrating, I’ve hit a bit of a peak so it’s probably come at a good time that track action has returned effectively,” he added.
“It’s quite incredible that the NLS Series are proposing such an early comeback, certainly here in Europe.
“There are some championships that are starting in early July and that’s quite early and a majority of them are starting in August, but for NLS to be running at the end of June is way ahead of everyone.
“[It’s] certainly a welcome return, and in terms of social distancing if there’s one track you can social distance it’s the longest track in the world.
“I suppose that’s quite a fitting start to this new normal that we’re going to have to get used to going forward.”
Walkenhorst Committed to NLS and IGTC
While the COVID-19 pandemic has cast doubt over some racing programs, Walkenhorst is committed to seeing out the NLS and Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli seasons.
The squad is representing BMW in a factory capacity in the IGTC, however, the logistics around a clash between the Oct. 24 NLS round and the 24 Hours of Spa still needs to be worked through.
“Walkenhorst Motorsport are completely committed to working with the new revised calendars and everything that they set out to do,” Pittard asserted.
“The team has a vast range of staff and cars to call upon. There was a really cool photo that was shared over lockdown of all the cars back at base and I didn’t even realize there are four M6 GT3s they can potentially call on.
“So in terms of attending all the programs, they’ve previously committed to I think they certainly have the personnel and infrastructure to do that.
“They are committed to the NLS series as they provide a lot of support for their customers.
“Spa 24 is going to be very tricky though running the BMW factory cars for the year in IGTC because they’re representing their customers at NLS and an international manufacturer at Spa – they’re not compromising either program because they’re both so vital to the team.”
The season-opening NLS race is scheduled to take place on June 27.