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Nürburgring Endurance

Nürburgring Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook on the eve of the 50th Nürburgring 24…

Photo: N24

***Luca Ludwig’s pole position for Octane126 was Ferrari’s first at the Nürburgring 24 in 11 years, after Dominik Farnbacher took the 2011 pole in a Ferrari 458 Italia GT3. It also marked the first N24 pole for a non-German manufacturer since Jeff Westphal topped qualifying for Glickenhaus in 2017.

***Ludwig described his lap as “perfect” in the Goodyear-shod Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. “The tires were there, exactly on point,” he told Sportscar365. “Really happy for the team, and for myself considering I’m just doing a couple of races per year.”

***Goodyear interrupted a streak of four Michelin poles, while the American brand’s affiliated company Dunlop propelled the Glickenhaus to the 2017 top spot. 

***In a rule change for this year’s N24, the cars in Top Qualifying started each session with full fuel tanks.

***Jordan Pepper was proud of Konrad Motorsport’s effort as the Lamborghini team banked another high grid position for the N24. Axcil Jefferies put Franz Konrad’s team on the front row last year. “It’s no secret that we enter this race with a lot less budget than the other manufacturers, but it doesn’t mean we have less heart,” Pepper said. “Franz has stuck with the Lamborghini and shown great speed, but we haven’t shown great race speed until the back end of last year. We can be quick for the race.”

***A full grid has not yet been published, but the combined results from Top Qualifying can be found here. The highest-placed car outside the SP9 was the No. 116 True Racing KTM X-Bow GT2, in which Tim Heinemann posted an 8:13.985 to take 23rd overall and the SP-X class pole.

***Glickenhaus Racing is “doubling down for a night” of work after a new electric water pump failed on its SP-X car just before Felipe Fernandez Laser took to the track for Top Qualifying 1. Team owner Jim Glickenhaus said: “We switched from mechanical to electric water pumps over the years to allow the water to circulate even when the engine is off in the pits. We have never had an issue before. We changed to a new pump earlier in the day, and it was running fine in earlier practice sessions.”

***Glickenhaus suggested that the team might need to swap out the SCG 004C’s engine for it to compete in the race.

***Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke has insisted that there is “no bad blood” between the manufacturer and Land-Motorsport after the team revealed last week that an Audi decision resulted in it missing this weekend’s Nürburgring 24.

***Reinke told Sportscar365: “With the enthusiasm they drive Audis in various championships obviously they will be heartbroken that at the main event, there is no green Land-Motorsport car appearing. So are we. But therefore hopefully our future still goes on together.”

***Reinke clarified the status of the No. 24 Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II, which is shown as entered under the ‘Audi Sport Team’ banner but is not officially one of the brand’s factory-supported entries. Instead, it is running in a Lionspeed livery. “It is not a strategic entry car, but if you look at the regulations, the team earned privileges which could be useful and therefore the car will run with a similar license [to the factory cars],” said Reinke.

***KCMG’s N24 program consists entirely of full-time staff after the team was loaned two prominent Manthey engineers for its last 24-hour outing at Daytona in January. The team’s Rolex 24 data engineer is working on the No. 1 Manthey Racing Porsche at the Nürburgring.

***KCMG team manager Matt Howson said: “We still get good support from the Porsche group, so it doesn’t feel like a disadvantage, but in terms of the execution of the stops and the rest of the race it’s all the same crew as Daytona.”

***Three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Kazuki Nakajima will drive a Toyota GR Supra Gran Turismo around the Nordschleife during the Toyota pre-race parade on Saturday. Former World Rally Championship driver Isolde Holderied will also take part, driving a Toyota GR 86 pace car.

***There are nine tire suppliers for the 50th N24: Michelin, Goodyear, Falken, Pirelli, Yokohama, Hankook, Giti, Nexen and Toyo. Of these, only five supply tires to the SP9 category. The majority of GT3 teams (23) run on Michelin, with Goodyear and Yokohama supplying three cars. Pirelli and Falken tires are used by two cars each.

***TF Sport driver David Pittard is going into his first N24 in anything other than a BMW after contesting the last three editions of the race with Walkenhorst Motorsport. “As amazing a job Walkenhorst did — I cannot fault them at all and we did some really cool stuff together — but it’s nice to just have a refreshing change of scenery,” Pittard told Sportscar365.

***Maro Engel is having a change of scenery at the N24 by joining GetSpeed. The AMG factory ace, who is racing in SRO competition with the team, did this event with Black Falcon between 2016 and 2019, and Haupt Racing Team the last two years. Several key Black Falcon staff members moved to HRT when it purchased the two-time N24 winner’s assets in 2020, so Engel has been with familiar faces for most of his time at this race.

***GetSpeed Performance team principal Adam Osieka says he prefers having three-driver crews at the N24, after Mercedes-AMG streamlined its lineups. “I like it more because each driver has more track time because you share [the car] with three drivers, not four,” he told Sportscar365. “The preparation is better. You can give them more track time, which is very limited here.”

***GetSpeed is provisionally aiming to enter NLS rounds four and seven after the N24 has passed. Osieka also plans to engage in a winter program in the Gulf region, potentially taking in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai and the Asian Le Mans Series.

***Mercedes-AMG has the longest winless streak of the ‘big four’ German manufacturers at this race. Its last victory came in 2016 with Black Falcon, meaning it has missed out in the last five editions. Podium results were achieved by AMG teams in 2018, 2019 and last year.

***Continuing a theme from previous N24 races, the factory-supported Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs have been nicknamed by their mechanics. The No. 15 Audi Sport Team Car Collection machine has been christened ‘Elenie’ and the No. 22 from Phoenix Racing is named ‘Marta’.

***Reinke said that Audi Sport wants to “set an exclamation mark” by winning the 50th edition of the N24. “If you look at the last decades, I think Audi has left a footprint here at the race,” he said. “In the early years we haven’t been involved that much but we only grew into that segment.”

***Bulldog Racing is running the first Mini entry at the N24 since 2017. Its rivals in the SP3T class are a Seat Leon, a Subaru WRX STI and a Volkswagen Golf 7 TCR. Another expected fan favorite is the Dacia Logan racing in SP3.

***Only one driver from the FIA WTCR field is doing the N24 this year: Mikel Azcona who is driving a Hyundai Elantra N TCR in both competitions.

***An autograph session featuring past winners of the N24 was held at the Nürburgring Boulevard on Friday.

***Haupt Racing Team expects to move into its new headquarters in Meuspath, just outside the Nürburgring, around fall this year. The Mercedes-AMG squad is building a 28,000-square-foot facility to house its race programs and other business ventures. HRT wants to use part of the space to service high-performance road cars and track day vehicles.

***HRT CEO Ulrich Fritz described the construction progress: “There is not a lot to see yet, but there is incredible work in it because we had to level out the ground. One side is nine meters higher, and one is six meters lower, so a lot of movement has been done. We are basically ready to put the building down.”

***IMSA ace Bill Auberlen was one of the drivers taking to the track for the BMW M Race of Legends, which forms part of the support package for the event. Auberlen last competed at the Nürburgring in 2000, driving a BMW V12 LMR in the American Le Mans Series. “I’m racing against my heroes, which is so fun. They’re all so fast and then we get to drive the BMW M2 CS Racing. It’s no pressure but a lot of fun,” Auberlen told Sportscar365.

***A 45-minute warmup session is scheduled for 11 a.m. CEST (5 a.m. ET) on Saturday morning, with the race due to start at 4 p.m. (10 a.m. ET).

***RSL is providing English language commentary on the live feed with John Hindhaugh, Jonny Palmer, Peter Snowdon, Nick Daman and Ben Constanduros forming the on-site broadcast team.

Davey Euwema contributed to this report

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

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