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Nürburgring Thursday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Thursday notebook from the paddock at the 48th ADAC 24-hour race…

Photo: Gruppe C Photography

***There have been several driver lineup changes in the build-up to the 48th edition of the ADAC TOTAL Nürburgring 24, as confirmed on the updated entry list issued this afternoon. Many of the updates have taken place in the top SP9 category for GT3 cars.

***The most extensive adjustments have come from Porsche which, as already reported, has withdrawn the factory drivers involved in its 24 Hours of Le Mans group.

***Manthey Racing has withdrawn from the Nürburgring 24 altogether because most of its crew were at Le Mans running the GTE-Pro class Porsche 911 RSR-19s, and are now self-isolating. This leaves seven Porsches in SP9 with two each for Frikadelli Racing, KCMG and Falken Motorsports, and one car for Huber Motorsport.

***Two of Manthey’s original drivers – Lars Kern and Mathieu Jaminet – have moved into the No. 31 Frikadelli Porsche that was set to feature Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Matt Campbell alongside Le Mans GTE-Pro winner Maxime Martin. Lance David Arnold has moved from the No. 30 to the No. 31 and Norbert Siedler has been drafted in to fill the vacant seat.

***Additionally, Nico Menzel has replaced Wolf Henzler in the Huber Motorsport Porsche. KCMG and Falken announced their lineups on Tuesday.

***Defending winner Phoenix Racing has scaled back its entry from three cars to two. The team had a trio of Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos on the provisional entry list but driver Vincent Kolb, who brings a significant portion of the budget to one car, was ruled out after breaking his wrist during a non-racing related sporting activity.

***This has resulted in a shuffling of Phoenix’s driver lineup. Michele Beretta, Jules Gounon and Kim-Luis Schramm, who were initially in the team’s No. 22 Audi, have moved to the No. 5 entry alongside Frank Stippler. The No. 22 is no longer present.

***Defending N24 winner Stippler was initially set to drive with Kolb, Richard Westbrook and Mike Rockenfeller. Rockenfeller and his fellow Audi DTM star Jamie Green are no longer representing the team this weekend.

***Westbrook, on the other hand, has found a drive with Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus alongside Thomas Mutsch, Franck Mailleux and Felipe Fernandez Laser. It will be the British driver’s first time aboard the new SCG 004C.

***Sportscar365 understands that SCG is unlikely to contest any more NLS races this year after the Nürburgring 24, which is the American constructor’s first 24-hour race with its new car entered in SP-X.

***A total of 97 cars are now listed, down five from the provisional entry.

***Reigning ADAC GT Masters champion Patric Niederhauser headlines Car Collection Motorsport’s No. 7 lineup. Niederhauser is new on the entry list – as are Mike David Ortmann and Miro Konopka – alongside Milan Dontje.

***Philip Ellis has replaced Gabriele Piana in the No. 2 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo. Piana is driving in the GT4 European Series at Zandvoort this weekend.

***Bentley factory driver Maxime Soulet is set for his maiden race in a Mercedes-AMG, having been confirmed in GetSpeed Performance’s Pro-Am lineup. Soulet, who last contested the N24 with Bentley in 2017, is sharing the No. 10 car with Janine and John Shoffner, and Markus Palttala.

***Audi has launched a ‘green hell’ special edition of its R8 coupe road car, in a nod to the 24-hour race. The No. 1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix machine’s new racing livery shares the ‘Tioman’ green coloring of the exclusive road version.

“The R8 road sports car and the R8 LMS racing car were designed and developed jointly; around half of their parts are identical,” said Audi Sport managing director Julius Seebach. “The R8 green hell edition model draws on the proximity to motorsport, while also paying tribute to our legendary victories on the Nürburgring.”

***There was no Free Practice session on Thursday, with the first track action of the weekend rebranded as Qualifying 1. The three collective qualifying sessions determine the grid for the classes outside SP9, SP-X and SP Pro.

***Four Top Qualifying 2 berths are up for grabs and will be earned during Top Qualifying 1, taking place immediately before the second session determining the overall pole on Friday. A table of cars already entered for Top Qualifying 2, courtesy of their performances in the NLS, and those vying for the four remaining spots, can be found here.

***High-profile entries trying to reach Top Qualifying 2 include all three Haupt Racing Team Mercedes, both Porsches from KCMG and Falken, and the Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo that led the first practice session of the event.

***The preliminary qualifying sessions will decide the rest of the grid. Theoretical lap times will be generated based on the average of each car’s best sector times.

***The latest SP9 Balance of Performance shows the Mercedes-AMG as the heaviest car at 1355 kg, with the BMW M6 GT3 the second-heaviest 10 kg behind. Lamborghini’s GT3 is the lightest at 1280 kg while the rest are hovering around the 1300 kg mark.

***A limited number of spectators will be allowed to attend the N24 after it was initially announced that the race would be going ahead behind closed doors. The GP circuit’s arena and pit straight stands are now open but the Nordschleife remains off-limits.

***In line with the stricter take on public access this year, the popular Adenuaer Racing Day which usually sees the N24 field parade through the nearby town center on the Wednesday of race week, did not go ahead.

***Charlie Martin is set to become the first transgender driver to compete in the Nürburgring 24 this weekend. Martin, who is driving a Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M240i Racing in Cup 5, has also recently signed as an official driver with niche sports prototype constructor Praga for 2021.

***A few drivers are also competing in GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Sprint Cup at Zandvoort this weekend. Those on ‘double-duty’ are Christopher Haase, Mattia Drudi, Dries Vanthoor, Kelvin van der Linde, Axcil Jefferies, Gounon and Siedler.

***These drivers will need to take part in qualifying at Zandvoort, which coincides with N24 Top Qualifying on Friday evening. The two GTWC Europe sprint races take place on Saturday, with the second contest finishing 45 minutes before the N24 gets underway.

***Several drivers are running back-to-back 24-hour races having contested Le Mans last weekend. The 11 doing so are: Maxime Martin, Jonathan Hirschi, Augusto Farfus, Jonny Adam, Alexander West, ‘Steve Brooks’, Mikkel Jensen, Michele Beretta, Tom Blomqvist, Gounon and Westbrook.

***Additionally, Rebellion Racing LMP1 driver Nathanael Berthon is competing in the FIA WTCR support races.

***PSA Group executives Carlos Tavares and Jean-Philippe Imparato, who are driving an Opel Astra Cup, were also at Le Mans. Tavares was the official starter while Imparato was present to help announce Peugeot’s latest direction on its Le Mans Hypercar program.

***Finally, the Goodyear Blimp has also made the trip from France to Germany, although it won’t stay for the 24-hour race. The Zeppelin will fly over tomorrow’s FIA WTCR race before giving passenger rides around its takeoff site at Bonn Hangelar airport.

***Friday’s track action begins with a third qualifying practice session at 1:25 p.m. CEST (7:15 a.m. EST). The two Top Qualifying sessions to determine the SP9 grid take place one after the other, with the first going ahead at 5:50 CEST (11:50 a.m. EST).

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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