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Nürburgring Endurance

Nürburgring Friday Notebook

John Dagys’ Friday notebook from the Nürburgring, on the eve of the N24…

Photo: 24H-Media

***A handful of GT3 teams and manufacturers are expecting Balance of Performance adjustments to come prior to tomorrow’s start of the Nürburgring 24. It’s understood several meetings have taken place so far this week, with sources indicating to Sportscar365 that some sort of change is likely to be made.

***Audi struggled in Top 30 Qualifying, with defending race winner Christopher Mies ending up quickest of the four-rings, in 15th, nearly 3.5 seconds slower than pole-sitter Laurens Vanthoor, who led a Porsche 1-2-3 sweep. “We don’t have an even-balanced field at the moment so we expect reaction,”  Head of Audi Sport customer racing Chris Reinke told Sportscar365.

***The event has had a history of in-weekend BoP adjustments, although it’s unlikely that every GT3 manufacturer has shown its full potential in the sessions so far this week.

***The No. 101 Walkenhorst BMW M6 GT3, which crashed out in the hands of Jordan Tresson in Qualifying 1, has been withdrawn. Tresson was evaluated and released from the medical center after the heavy front-end impact at Fuchsröhre. It leaves a 30-car SP9-GT3 field for the race.

***With teams no longer able to change tire manufacturers over the race weekend, Audi has hedged its bets by utilizing two different manufacturers. Both of the Audi Sport-backed Land and WRT entries are on Michelins, with the factory assisted Phoenix and BWT Audi R8 LMS cars on Dunlops. 

***Reinke told Sportscar365: “We went with a strategy to spread the odds in between two manufacturers because we think, from the performance, both manufacturers have advantages of different kinds and we couldn’t foresee the race in a way that we would ignore one of them.”

***Reinke doesn’t expect any issues to arise with its ‘jumpers’ that are listed to drive two Audi GT3 cars this weekend. “It’s always an Audi Sport team, it’s the same pits and they run on the same tire. We, as Audi Sport, run in a way with our teams that we don’t expect any controversy,” he said.

***Each driver is required to complete at least 15 laps, or roughly two hours, in the car in order for it to be classified.

***More than 30 drivers that took part in either last weekend’s FIA World Endurance Championship season-opener at Spa or the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Mid-Ohio are here this weekend.

***It includes all eight of Porsche’s factory GTE-Pro/GTLM drivers, BMW Team RLL’s four full-season drivers, as well as Dominik Baumann and Kuno Wittmer, who picked up the GT Daytona and TCR class victories in IMSA competition last weekend.

***Wittmer is in one of the more unique entries, a Renault RS01 entered by GTronix360 Team mcchip-dkr, which topped the overall time sheets in Thursday’s Free Practice. The car, along with last year’s overall pole-sitting Glickenhaus SCG0003c, is competing in the SP-X class for unhomologated cars.

***A 23rd class in the race, SP-Y, was created on Thursday by race organizers, for Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo EVO cars. Only the Nos. 63 and 69 Dorr Motorsport entries fall into this category.

***Head of Porsche Motorsport Dr. Frank-Steffen Walliser revealed that it had considered a turbocharged engine for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R, although ultimately ruled against it after simulations. “We went through it, but still with the rear engine, the disadvantage is too big,” Walliser told Sportscar365. “The weight distribution, you lose the freedom to bring in the intercoolers in the rear engine. It’s not optimum.”

***Walliser said he expects the new-gen Porsche to contest an end-of-year endurance race, potentially a 24H Series event, ahead of its official customer debut in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. The car, however, is expected to also take part in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai, which is two weeks prior to Daytona.

***Currently, event rules prohibit the 2019-spec Porsche, or any new GT3 models, from taking part in the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour in February, due to SRO utilizing the previous year’s Balance of Performance tables.

***Reinke, meanwhile, said the introduction of an Evo kit for the Audi R8 LMS GT3 will be dictated by any possible styling changes in the production model. However, Sportscar365 understands the Audi is in the final year of its homologation window, meaning 2019 would be the final opportunity for an Evo.

***Spy photos of an updated Audi R8 production car, meanwhile, surfaced earlier this year, although no announcements have been made from the manufacturer on a potential timeline for a facelift for the model.

***Audi’s lineup for the remaining Intercontinental GT Challenge rounds is currently being determined, according to Reinke, who expects to have supported entries at both the Suzuka 10 Hours and California 8 Hours in addition to its factory-backed effort in the Total 24 Hours of Spa.

***Sportscar365 understands that the IGTC season-ending round at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca currently has 30 cars entered, a noticeable increase over last year’s event that saw a 19-car starting field.

***Land Motorsport team director Christian Land confirmed to Sportscar365 that it will enter only the remaining Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup rounds at Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta. According to Land, plans to contest the majority of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season not materializing due to scheduling conflicts.

***The German squad, which penalized in the Rolex 24 at Daytona due to having quicker-than-expected refueling, has prioritized its two-car ADAC GT Masters program this year.

***Tomorrow’s demo lap with the Porsche 919 Hybrid Evo and Porsche 956 C around the Nordschleife is expected to get underway at 3 p.m. local time. It will be limited to speeds of 80 km/h, due to noise restrictions, according to a Porsche spokesperson.

***While a full-speed lap will not be undertaken this weekend, it’s understood a potential record-breaking attempt in the future for the 919 Hybrid Evo has not been completely ruled out. 

***The late Stefan Bellof still holds the outright Nordschleife lap record, at 6:11.1, achieved in a Porsche 956 in 1983.

***Former World Superbike champion Carlos Checa will also be on parade during pre-race activities, with the Spaniard set to ride a Ducati bike around the 15.7-mile circuit. Checa is taking part in this weekend’s Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup in a GT4 guest entry, finishing second in Race 1 on Friday.

***The dates for the next five editions of the Nürburgring 24 have already been confirmed. Next year’s race will take place on June 20-23, with future events set for May 21-24, 2020; June 3-6, 2021; June 16-19, 2022 and June 8-11, 2023. The 2022 edition is expected to clash with the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

***This year’s Nürburgring 24 gets underway Saturday at 3:30 p.m. local time (9:30 a.m. ET) with live coverage on the series’ official Web site, featuring English commentary from Radio Show Limited. 

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John


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