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VLN/Nürburgring 24

Nürburgring Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s first notebook from the Nürburgring 24 paddock…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

***A total of 158 cars, including 33 GT3s, are entered into the 47th running of the Nürburgring 24. The latest entry list was published today, and can be found here.

***BBC Top Gear presenter Chris Harris won’t be driving for the Aston Martin AMR Performance Centre team this weekend because of filming commitments. Darren Turner, Chris Goodwin and Christian Gebhardt will now share the No. 36 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 as a trio.

***Rain affected the only Free Practice session of the event, with several cars getting caught out on slick tires on the wet far side of the circuit. The session was red flagged with just 54 minutes of running completed.

***The top positions on the grid will be decided in Top-Qualifying at 7 p.m. on Friday. The session runs as a single-lap shootout for the pole.

***Securing a place in Top-Qualifying is considerably more complicated under the new system that’s in place this year. Berths will be given to 80 percent of Pro and Pro-Am teams, which is expected to amount to 28 cars, subject to last-minute withdrawals.

***Seventeen cars have already been granted entries due to their results in the first three VLN races and the N24 Qualifying Race, with spaces given based on theoretical lap times in qualifying and the race.

***A further three Pro and eight Pro-Am cars will be granted entries based on their theoretical times in Qualifying 1 and 2 this evening and tomorrow. 

***Notable cars that haven’t yet made it through to Top-Qualifying include the No. 6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3, No. 14 Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, the three GetSpeed Performance Mercedes, No. 30 Frikadelli Racing Team Porsche, No. 33 Falken Motorsports BMW M6 GT3, both KCMG Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s and No. 48 Team Mann Filter Mercedes.

***The teams that have already secured a place through their performances in VLN and the qualifying race are: ROWE Racing (Nos. 98, 99), Walkenhorst Motorsport (Nos. 100, 101), BMW Team Schnitzer (No. 42), Manthey Racing (Nos. 1, 12, 911), Black Falcon (Nos. 2, 3), Audi Sport Team Phoenix (Nos. 4, 5), Kondo Racing (No. 45), Frikadelli (No. 31), Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus (No. 705), Audi Sport Team Land (No. 29), Falken (No. 44).

***Click here to view the list of cars that will take part in Top-Qualifying, plus the extra cars that can still make the cut.

***Teams will need to nominate drivers for Top Qualifying before the start of the second qualifying session on Friday afternoon. This also applies to those that haven’t earned a place in the session by that time.

***Around 10 percent of the track has been resurfaced since last year’s race. New tarmac has been applied at Flugplatz, Kallenhard, Wehrseifen, Ex-Muehle and Hohe Acht, while some 900 meters of new FIA fences have been installed in Hatzenbach and Kesselchen for safety purposes.

***The Lumirank driver identification system is being introduced for this year’s race. Three-figure tokens will enable driver identification and will also provide information on each car’s position and status. Teams must also make their driver’s identification known at all times, after this was only given as an option in 2018.

***Porsche has around 20 engineers working together in a ‘battle room’ for its fleet of customer GT3 cars here this weekend. All of the German manufacturer’s customer teams will be on the same radio frequency to be able to share data more easily.

***A total of 30 drivers have arrived for the Nürburgring 24 straight off the back of last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Three cars – the Nos. 1 and 911 Manthey and No. 31 Frikadelli Racing Porsches – feature lineups full of drivers who contested the FIA World Endurance Championship season finale.

***All but two of the 24H Le Mans drivers taking part are in GT3 machinery, with Alex Brundle and Darren Turner suiting up to race in separate SP8T-class Aston Martin GT4s.

***Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor are set to compete in consecutive 24-hour races together. The trio finished ninth at Le Mans in the GTE-Pro class as a trio and will be joined by Earl Bamber in the No. 911 Manthey Porsche this weekend.

***Augusto Farfus, Nicky Catsburg, Andy Priaulx and Yann Ehrlacher are taking part in this weekend’s FIA WTCR round having travelled over from Le Mans. Farfus, Catsburg and Priaulx were racing in the 24 Hours, while Ehrlacher was in the Road to Le Mans support race.

***Additionally, N24 drivers Pierre Kaffer, Yannick Mettler and Mikkel Jensen were also competing in the Road to Le Mans.

***The last time the N24 fell a week after Le Mans was in 2014, when Audi teams clinched successive victories with Team Joest in France and Phoenix Racing in Germany.

***Romain Dumas will drive a demo lap of the Nordschleife in the Volkswagen ID. R immediately before the start of the race on Saturday, three weeks after he set a new electric vehicle lap record on the track in the ID. R prototype.

***Falken Tire is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its team’s first N24 appearance this weekend. Falken entered a Nissan Skyline GT-R R33 in the 1999 race, finishing sixth overall, and has gone on to contest all but one of the editions held since.

***KCMG won’t contest the remainder of the VLN season, with its two Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3s set to be freighted to the team’s Japanese workshop for the second half of the year.

***Renger van der Zande’s one-off N24 helmet includes fan-made slogans picked from an Instagram contest held by the GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver. Porsche’s Richard Lietz also has a special helmet design that matches the ‘grello’ paint scheme of the No. 1 Manthey Racing 911 GT3 R he is driving.

***Toyota LMP1 team president Hisatake Murata was seen in the paddock, one week after the Japanese manufacturer’s Le Mans victory. Toyota LMP1 reserve driver Thomas Laurent, 2016 WEC champion Marc Lieb and five-time Le Mans winner Emanuele Pirro were also spotted.

***Pirro has been with Lamborghini as a brand ambassador and consultant since January, and is also in his 25th year as an Audi brand representative.

***A moment of silence was held in the pre-race drivers’ briefing in memory of Schnitzer Motorsport team principal Charly Lamm, who passed away in January. Schnitzer’s BMW M6 GT3 has a ‘Godspeed Charly’ decal on its rear bodywork for the team’s first N24 since Lamm’s death.

***Schnitzer has won the N24 five times, making it the second most successful team in the event behind Manthey Racing. Its last victory came in 2010 with a BMW M3 GT2

***Mercedes-AMG will launch its new GT3 car in the paddock tomorrow. The successor to the highly successful Mercedes-AMG GT3 is expected to be more of an evolution than a brand-new car.

***Qualifying 1 will take place this evening from 8:30-11:30 p.m. local time (2:30-5:30 p.m. EDT), with Qualifying 2 on Friday at 2:55-4:45 p.m. (8:55-10:45 a.m. EDT).

Jake Kilshaw contributed to this report.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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