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Nürburgring Endurance

Nürburgring Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook on the eve of the 48th Nürburgring 24…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

***Audi’s Robin Frijns has been ruled out of the Nürburgring 24 with a “flu-like infection” although the Dutchman has produced a negative test for COVID-19. An Audi spokesperson confirmed to Sportscar365 that Mirko Bortolotti, Christopher Haase and Markus Winkelhock will contest the race as a trio in the No. 3 Audi Sport Team Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo.

***Miro Konopka has been disqualified from the event while the No. 7 Car Collection Motorsport Audi he was due to drive has been handed two hefty penalties. A stewards’ bulletin read that Konopka had “ignored double yellow flags twice” and was clocked at 215 km/h (133.5 mph).

***As part of the sanction, the Car Collection Audi of Mike David Ortmann, Patric Niederhauser and Milan Dontje will need to start from the pit lane and serve a three-minute stop and hold penalty during the race.

***Porsche’s fleet of 911 GT3 Rs received a Balance of Performance break that was communicated shortly before Top Qualifying. The SP9-class Porsches are now running at 1295 kg which is 10 kg less than they were in the weekend’s earlier sessions.

***However, the manufacturer struggled in qualifying, partly because none of its Pro-class cars were automatically assigned to the Top Qualifying 2 session. This meant six Porsches were vying for the four winnable places in the main shootout.

***Only one Porsche got through to Top Qualifying 2, but Dennis Olsen stopped at Kallenhard after encountering an internal issue with his KCMG car during his sighter lap. The team was unsure of the problem’s cause when approached by Sportscar365.

***Audi’s leading crews also had a tough qualifying spell that contributed to Mercedes-AMG and BMW entries occupying nine of the top 10 grid positions. The Audi Sport Land and Car Collection R8 LMS GT3 Evos both started Top Qualifying 2 on slick tires but came in for wets after a leap each, leaving only a single flying effort on the table.

***Maro Engel said it was the “safer option” to pick wet tires for his pole position attempt. Luca Ludwig, who qualified second in the Octane 126 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020, later revealed that he was on intermediates for his impressive run, while third-placed Raffaele Marciello had wet tires on his Mercedes-AMG.

***Despite setting the pole lap on wet tires, Engel doesn’t think the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos will have the edge in rainy race conditions. “On paper, I would say no, it favors others more,” he told Sportscar365. “We haven’t seen the full picture yet.”

***Wet weather is being forecast for most of the race, raising concerns about attrition. According to the latest Nürburgring weather report, Saturday will bring “very cold and unsettled weather” and a maximum temperature of 8 degrees Celsius (46.5 F).

***Engel’s pole was his second in a row at the Nürburgring 24 and his third in five editions, following 2016 and 2019. 

***The rerouted pit lane through the paddock that has been deployed at NLS events this season is not in use this weekend. All pit crews are now stationed in the main pit lane.

***As is the case in the NLS, a minimum pit time based on stint length is in force this weekend. The pit times per stint can be found in this table.

***Haupt Racing Team brought in a new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo chassis to replace the original No. 2 car that was badly damaged in Yelmer Buurman’s crash during qualifying practice on Thursday night. The car didn’t return until Top Qualifying 1, where it finished three positions off advancement to Top Qualifying 2.

***This marked the second chassis replacement job in as many Nordschleife races for HRT, which also faced a large accident in the last NLS round for its No. 6 machine.

***Buurman described his view of the No. 2 car’s accident: “Just before Schwedenkreuz, I overtook another car and I was slightly dazzled. Then, it happened while turning in: the rear slid out, I spun and had a rearward impact into the barrier.”

***The No. 44 Falken Motorsports Porsche also returned to action on Friday following overnight repairs to damage incurred in Peter Dumbreck’s Thursday night accident. It took part in both the third qualifying practice and Top Qualifying 1.

***Falken driver Martin Ragginger believes there are “positives” to the team running two models of the same car, rather than running two different brands as it did last year with Porsche and BMW.

“We’ve got more data to review and we can try different things with tires and set up within fewer events,” Ragginger said. “Of course, having the different cars as we had before spread our chances with BoP but overall, two Porsches has been a benefit to the program.”

***BMW’s head of motorsport Jens Marquardt said the manufacturer is “still working together in GT” with Alexander Sims despite the Brit’s move away from the marque in Formula E to drive for Mahindra, although he wouldn’t confirm any intentions for 2021.

“Depending on our program next year, we’ll see,” Marquardt told Sportscar365. “He’s a very good performing GT driver, but I can’t say how big our program is going to be or who exactly is going to drive. But if you have a choice of drivers and Alex is available you would be clear on which kind of guys go in the car. That’s why he’s here this weekend.”

***Audi has set up a new interactive website to help fans keep track of the Nürburgring 24 at home. It includes live onboard cameras from the three Audi Sport factory-supported cars, telemetry data and links to social media activities. There will also be a live studio feed presented by John Hindhaugh, who will be joined by 24 Hours of Le Mans winners Frank Biela and Allan McNish.

“The majority of the loyal fans have to stay at home in times of Corona and are not allowed to visit the race on-site,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “They should now be able to follow our race from their living rooms in a way never seen before.”

***Saturday’s track action begins with a 60-minute warm-up session starting at 11:15 a.m. CEST (5:15 a.m. EST). The 48th ADAC TOTAL Nürburgring 24 will then get underway at 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EST).

***Live streaming with English language commentary from Radio Show Limited can be found on the event’s YouTube channel.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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