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Nürburgring Friday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Friday notebook from the Nürburgring 24 paddock…

Photo: Porsche

***The 28 cars that will battle for the overall pole position in Top-Qualifying this evening were confirmed after Qualifying 2 on Friday afternoon. Notable omissions included the No. 14 works-affiliated Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and the No. 33 Falken Motorsports BMW M6 GT3.

***2018 pole-sitter Laurens Vanthoor will aim to score consecutive pole starts in the No. 911 Manthey-Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R. Last year, the Belgian posted a time of 8:09.105 to reach the top spot during the final shootout.

***Two cars retired from the weekend after a crash at Bergwerk during Qualifying 1: the No. 59 CP Racing Porsche 991 GT3 Cup of Charles Putman, Charles Espenlaub, Joe Foster and Xavier Maassen; and the No. 119 Gazoo Racing Team Thailand Toyota C-HR shared by Suttipong Smittachartch, Nattavude Charoensukhawatana, Nattapong Hortongkum and Manat Kulapalanont.

***In addition to its new GT3 car, which was unveiled at the track this morning, Mercedes-AMG is set to update its GT4 package later this year. Head of customer racing Stefan Wendl told Sportscar365 that there will be “something to refresh the GT4 car for 2020”.

“[It’s] not necessarily an Evo kit but we’ve had lots of feedback and we have something in the pocket, which we will present later in the year,” said Wendl.

***Teams are using a mobile app to document tire usage for the first time this year. Replacing paper tire lists, the app shows which tire sets the team still has available and which have been already used.

***This weekend’s race marks ten years of GT3 machinery in the N24. The class debuted in the 2009 edition with 23 cars, and has had upwards of 25 entries each year since. In total, 304 GT3 cars have started the race, adding together all entries from each of the ten events so far.

***Several German celebrities are competing this weekend, including Titus Dittmann, regarded as the ‘Godfather’ of the German skateboard scene, and Smudo, the frontman of hip hop group Die Fantastischen Vier, one of the first groups to rap in the German language. Dittmann is driving the No. 13 Dodge Viper CC running under the skate-aid name after his charity, while Smudo is in a Porsche GT3 Cup car.

***Also on the entry list are 1984 DTM champion and long-time Opel Motorsport boss Volker Strycek, driving an Opel Manta, and current Peugeot Sport director Francois Wales, in an Opel Astra OPC.

***In addition to the 158 cars racing in the N24 this weekend, a further 210 vehicles competed in the ADAC 24H Classic race on Friday morning. The field for the three-hour race comprised cars from five different decades.

***The Classic race was dominated by Porsche and BMWs, with the win going to a Porsche 911 Carrera RSR driven solo by Michael Kueke. He completed 18 laps to finish ahead of five more classic Porsches. Several BMWs made it into the top 20, including a 635 CSI and classic 3 Series models.

***FIA WTCR is also supporting this weekend, with three races. Four of the drivers – Tiago Monteiro, Frederic Vervisch, Nicky Catsburg and Augusto Farfus – are pulling double-duty between the touring car series and the N24.

***BMW is unlikely to develop a car for SRO’s new GT2 category, with its motorsport director Jens Marquardt describing the formula as “not really in our scope”.

“Last year we launched the GT4, and we are going to launch a new entry level car for the M240iR next year, and after that it’s the new GT3 in 2022,” he told Sportscar365.

***BMW held a customer racing event on Wednesday, where it announced that the current-gen M2 will form the basis of its M240iR replacement model.

***It’s understood that the Porsche GT2 race which is set to take place during the Total 24 Hours of Spa weekend could be opened to include both the recently-relaunched 935. The race was initially announced as a contest purely for the Porsche 911 GT2 RS race car, which is the manufacturer’s main GT2 entry, but the heritage-inspired Porsche 935 could also become eligible.

***The controversial new qualifying system, which was called “super confusing” by Kelvin van der Linde, has attracted support from Sebastien Golz, Porsche’s project leader for its 911 GT3 R programs.

“It’s the right way,” Golz told Sportscar365. It’s more accurate, yes. In one stint, you can see if someone is, for example, slowed down by other cars, or maybe lifting in an area where you don’t have to lift every time. If he’s going full throttle through this area one time, then you have the sector of what he’s able to do. It’s combined and it makes it clearer.”

***Sportscar365 understands that the formerly MTEK-run BMW M8 GTE chassis and associated parts will be shipped to America to assist with the manufacturer’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship effort with Team RLL.

***Marquardt said that BMW will make a decision on whether to return to Le Mans with the M8 “when the time comes”. He stressed the car’s focus is now on the 2019 and 2020 IMSA GTLM seasons, with the US being the M8 road car’s primary market.

***960 marshals are positioned around the Nordschleife this weekend, split into 17 sections. A further 80 marshals are stationed in the pit lane.

***Top-Qualifying will get underway at 7 p.m., while a one-hour Warmup session is scheduled for 9:10 a.m. (3:10 a.m. EDT) on Saturday morning ahead of a 3:30 p.m. (9:30 a.m. EDT) race start.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report.

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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