The seven drivers taking part in both the Nürburgring 24 and the GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS round at Zandvoort expect to “feel it on Sunday” at the tail end of their busy schedule taking in two major GT3 events in two different countries.
Jules Gounon, Christopher Haase, Mattia Drudi, Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde, Norbert Siedler and Axcil Jefferies are performing a challenging ‘double duty’ task this weekend owing to a date clash between the two competitions.
All took part in N24 qualifying practice on Thursday before heading to Zandvoort last night ahead of track action for the GTWC Europe Sprint Cup meeting.
They are spending Friday at Zandvoort taking part in practice and qualifying for Saturday’s pair of races at 9 a.m. and 1:45 p.m. before heading to the Nürburgring to arrive soon after the 24-hour race gets underway at 3:30 p.m.
The drivers in Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos for the Nürburgring – Gounon, Haase, Van der Linde, Drudi and Vanthoor – left around 10:30 p.m. last night to make the four-hour road trip to Zandvoort. They will then return by helicopter on Saturday afternoon.
Gounon has the added factor of arriving into this weekend off the back of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, which he contested with Risi Competizione in a Ferrari 488 GTE Evo.
“I don’t think we’ve ever had this kind of weekend, especially for me after coming from the 24 Hours of Le Mans,” the Bentley factory driver told Sportscar365.
“It was already a pretty big weekend, and now doing double duty with two sprint races and a 24-hour race, which is going to be intense with heavy rain expected at night.
“Coming after Le Mans it’s even tricker and then I’m flying back for Indianapolis on Wednesday [for the 8 Hour] so the schedule is really crazy.
“From the safety side, we [had] a PCR test on Friday morning when at Zandvoort, and then when we land [from] Zandvoort we have a PCR test and a one-hour health check with the doctors of the Nürburgring and Audi Sport to make sure that we are fine.
“I’m really thankful to Bentley to allow me to do all of this, to do the N24 with Audi and the 24 Hours of Le Mans with Ferrari.”
Gounon stressed the importance of banking enough mistake-free running on Thursday at the Nürburgring, although he added that projected race day rain could nullify these laps.
“We had to get driving done because the problem with the Nürburgring is that you don’t get a lot of laps before the race,” he explained.
“We really needed to be on-track so it was really good to do that and get a bit of experience, but we drove with a dry track, while it’s looking really wet for the race.”
Jefferies and Siedler are the only double duty drivers not driving Audis in either event, with Jefferies piloting Konrad Motorsport’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo at the Nürburgring and a Madpanda Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo at Zandvoort.
Siedler, meanwhile, is driving a Porsche 911 GT3 R for Frikadelli Racing in Germany and an Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in the Netherlands.
More drivers were originally set to do both events, including several Mercedes-AMG factory racers and Audi man Frederic Vervisch, but these are now all concentrating on the Nürburgring.
Jefferies told Sportscar365 that the logistical side of the venture has not been as challenging as expected, but noted that external factors could easily make things difficult.
“I think the only stumbling factor we have is on the way back, that we have to make sure everything goes well,” said the Zimbabwean driver.
“No roadworks, car problems or delays. Other than that, everything else in our control.
“We’ll try to leave as early as we can and probably won’t even wait for the second race to finish in Zandvoort. I’ll do the first stint and make my way as soon as I’m done.
“We should get [to the Nürburgring] around 6:30-7 p.m. on Saturday and then jump straight in the car to race.
“It seemed like it was going to be a lot crazier, but now we’re in motion it’s not so bad. We will feel it on Sunday morning because it will be a long day.”