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Nürburgring Endurance

NES Season Opener Canceled

New NES abandons plans for opening races amid growing tensions at Nordschleife…

Photo: Porsche

The Nürburgring Endurance Series (NES) double header season opener, originally scheduled to take place this Saturday, has been canceled amidst what series organizers describe as “increasing hostility” against the fledgling championship.

NES was supposed to kick off its season this weekend with a pair of races taking place on the Grand Prix circuit, but the championship confirmed in a statement released on Tuesday that these would not go ahead.

A timetable released at the end of February shows that running was to be split into two groups, with the headlining GT3 cars set to contest the opening 90-minute race on Saturday.

A second group of less powerful cars would then complete the same race distance in a separate race later that afternoon.

An official reason for the cancelation has not been given, although it should be noted that an entry list had not been made public by the time of the announcement on Tuesday.

With the race not taking place, the NES has confirmed that teams will instead get increased track time for testing on the Nordschleife.

In total, teams will get 15 hours of access to the Green Hell across Friday and Saturday, with a first session from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. CET joined by a lengthened, six-hour session on Saturday.

That second day of testing will run to 2 p.m., after it was originally scheduled to take place from 8 to 11 a.m.

Several significant teams due to compete in the Nürburgring 24 later this year will take part in the test, including last year’s runner-ups ROWE Racing.

The Hans-Peter Naundorf-led stable will be present with a pair of BMW M4 GT3s, with new BMW factory drivers Robin Frijns and Raffaele Marciello driving alongside Maxime Martin aboard the No. 98 car while Augusto Farfus and Dries Vanthoor share the No. 99 machine.

ABT Sportsline, which confirmed the driver lineup for its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 on Monday, will also be present at the test, as well Falken Motorsports with its Porsche effort.

NES Facing “Increasing Hostility” in Operations

In the same statement confirming the cancelation of its season opener, NES spoke out against “increasing hostility and threats” since the series was announced last year.

The championship goes on to give a similar reason for the changing of its season opener format after previously stating that the calendar would consist of a series of four-hour races on the Nordschleife.

“This is because volunteer helper groups, stewards, section leaders, officials, external service providers, other stakeholders and even teams and drivers who remain neutral in the performance of their professional duties or predominantly voluntary leisure activities are facing increasingly massive pressure from people claiming to be acting on behalf of and in the name of the VLN/NLS and the ADAC,” the statement reads.

“While the NES has accepted the challenge of a competitive series from the outset, hostility from various camps is steadily increasing.

“The NES therefore demands public clarification from all institutions involved that all persons are free to carry out their activities at any event as they wish without having to fear any consequences.”

In separate comments, VLN boss Mike Jaeger, who is in charge of the rival NLS championship, has denied claims that the series organizer has played a part in trying to prevent people from working for the NES.

Jaeger labeled the accusations as “quatsch,” the German word for “nonsense.”

“We ask that people in management positions do not work for competitors, because this is about technology and knowledge transfer,” said Jaeger.

“You can’t work for Mercedes and Ferrari at the same time in Formula 1, that goes without saying. Those who spread such rumors should perhaps reflect on themselves and ask themselves why people don’t want to work together.

“Maybe then you will realize where the encouragement from teams, partners, supporters and fans that we are currently experiencing comes from.”

The comments serve as the latest escalation in the ongoing dispute over endurance sports car racing at the Nordschleife, which came to a head with a court ruling in January that paved the way for a split calendar at the German circuit.

A notable development in the saga came on Friday when three regional ADAC chapters (Westfalen, Mittelrhein and Nordrhein) announced that they would take over title sponsorship of the NLS, renaming it to the ‘ADAC Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie.’

This is significant because the Westfalen and Mittelrhein clubs have long been aligned to NLS organizer VLN, while ADAC Nordrhein is the organizer of the blue-riband Nürburgring 24 event. The new NES, meanwhile, is organized by the rival Automobilclub von Deutschland (AvD).

The ongoing dispute between the two parties have also drawn comments from the DMSB, the German sporting authority, with president Wolfgang Wagner-Sachs stressing that it does not wish to choose sides but calling for solidarity.

“The real challenges for motorsport from external factors are big enough,” said Wagner-Sachs.

“The motorsport organizers should stand together instead of fighting over starters, sponsors and race track dates.

“There is no room for competitive thinking and power games among each other in German motorsport in 2024. We need much more solidarity.”

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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