Falken Motorsports is “well prepared” for the upcoming Nürburgring 24 despite a season of hardships that include tire shortages and limited on-track running, according to team boss Sven Schnabl.
The Butzbach-based squad will enter a pair of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs into the 50th running of the Eifel endurance classic.
The event looks set to be a challenging one for the team, with its running prior to the two qualifying races earlier this month being extremely limited.
This was due to a combination of crashes and early retirements in the opening NLS round, while the team then had to forego racing in NLS3 entirely due to a tire shortage.
In total, the two Schnabl Engineering-operated Porsches combined completed just nine laps before the qualifiers.
“We were glad to have two cars on track at the end of the day, due to the circumstances,” Schnabl told Sportscar365.
“We lost one car at NLS1, which was a total loss so a new chassis after that, after seven laps. The second car we had to retire after two laps.
“NLS2 did not take place due to snow and NLS3 we could only do qualifying because our medium tires got stuck somewhere in the world between Japan and Nurburgring.
“So basically it was the first time to have the possibility again to have both cars on track after the issues we had.
“Therefore I say it was running quite okay for us, even though we are having quite a lot of trouble at the moment.
“We lost one car again in the Saturday race, which we repaired for the Sunday race.
“We had another big shunt with the other car on Sunday, which has to go for a chassis repair.
“In terms of that, it’s quite a busy period for us at the moment.”
The significant lack of on-track running affected preparations for the qualifying races, with some drivers not even having turned race laps before the weekend began.
“We even had drivers like Sven Mueller, who didn’t do a single lap at the Nordschleife before the quali race,” said Schnabl.
“And then you have to do your driver lineup and judge drivers which have not been in the car at all.
“Jaxon Evans is new to the GT3 R, he did his permit at the end of last year. He did a few test laps with us, but he raced for the first time at the N24 [Qualifiers].
“We had to do a driver lineup somehow. Basically we missed every single round and it’s not easy at the moment.
“It’s more than difficult and that’s why it was important to have both cars on track and [also] why we even did a repair on the No. 33 car on Saturday midday and night until Sunday morning, to make sure we had the car back on track and give all the drivers as much track time and as much race time as possible.”
Minor Adjustment to Driver Lineup
Schnabl initially confirmed to Sportscar365 that the team opted not to make changes to its lineup going into the main race to avoid disturbing team continuity.
However, since then, the team has had to make one adjustment to the set of drivers as Lars Kern has moved to Huber Motorsport’s No. 25 Porsche.
The Nürburgring road car ace was originally set to drive the No. 44 Porsche alongside Klaus Bachler, Alessio Picariello and Martin Ragginger.
Instead, Patrick Pilet will be pulling double duty, also stepping into the lineup for the team’s second car.
In addition, the 2018 winner will also pilot the No. 33, teaming with Jaxon Evans, Sven Mueller and Marco Seefried.
Despite the difficulties that the team has had to deal with over the last few months, Schnabl feels the team is well prepared heading into the event, although remains cautious about the team’s form due to its limited running.
“Preparations for us, even with the difficulties we had at the beginning of the season, everything goes on as it is.
“I have to say I do not exactly know where we will be due to the lack of the track time we had due to the accidents.
“We finished sixth in race two, which was quite okay. Others had issues, not everybody was there and so on.
“At the end of the day at the N24 you aim for a top result, hopefully the podium, hopefully the top of the podium but to say we are the ones fighting for the top of the podium I cannot say at the moment due to the circumstances we had.
“I think we are quite well prepared, the fact is now we have to make sure cars are getting repaired as well, cars are getting rebuilt in order to be sure everything lasts and everything will finish the N24.
“Hopefully drivers will do their jobs and make the right calls at the right time, not have any incidents, not have any penalties which is quite important as well and then have a clean and clear race.”