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Nürburgring Endurance

Nürburgring Wednesday Notebook

Sportscar365’s Wednesday notebook from the N24 paddock at the Nürburgring…

Photo: Audi Sport

***A field of 137 cars is gearing up for the Nürburgring 24 this weekend. One notable withdrawal from the original 138-car entry list is the popular ‘foxtail’ Opel Manta, which was unable to be repaired in time after being burned in a fire at its workshop.

***The traditional Adenauer Racing Day took place on Wednesday, held in the center of Adenau town near the circuit. The event, which drew a large crowd of fans, featured appearances from teams and drivers as well as a parade that saw a significant number of the top GT3 entries driving down public roads near the Nordschleife.

***A large crowd is expected for the 50th N24 edition, which is also the first since 2019 without restrictions on spectator numbers due to coronavirus pandemic measures. The 2020 race permitted a small number of fans in the main grandstands, while last year there was an attendance limit of 10,000. This year the campsites opened at 8 a.m. on Monday and by Wednesday tents could be seen all around the Nordschleife. 

***Aston Martin factory driver Nicki Thiim spent the morning mountain biking through the Eifel forest to see the many camping areas. “There’s like a nice road all the way around the track,” he told Sportscar365. “I just wanted to have a glimpse at all the crazy shit going on out there.”

***The most recent Balance of Performance update for the event was communicated on May 20. It granted a 10 kg weight reduction for the fleet of seven Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs, a turbo boost increase for the TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and a slight air restrictor diameter increase for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos, giving them an extra 3 hp.

***Frederik Schandorff has joined the No. 29 Dinamic Motorsport lineup alongside Christian Engelhart, Matteo Cairoli and Adrien de Leener. Schandorff is set for his debut in the Porsche 911 GT3 R, having raced in other series this year aboard McLaren 720S GT3s entered by Inception Racing.

***Engelhart and Cairoli are pulling double-duty across the two Dinamic Porsches, which are running on Pirelli tires. Come Ledogar and Thomas Preining join them in the No. 28 entry. Dinamic has done several Nordschleife races, but this marks its first N24 attempt in the SP9 class.

***Jean Todt and Jochen Neerpasch are BMW M Motorsport’s guests of honor this weekend. Former FIA President Todt accepted the invitation from a delegation of BMW M Motorsport representatives at last year’s FIA Gala. Neerpasch was the first director of BMW Motorsport and founded both renditions of the BMW Junior Team.

***Nicky Catsburg feels there is “hidden potential” still to be found in the BMW M4 GT3 despite the car racking up several victories in recent weeks. “In 2022, we have already done some racing with the new car, but we are definitely not as far as we were with the BMW M6 GT3,” he said. “I do believe that this new car is better already, but I think there is still some hidden potential.”

***Mercedes-AMG has gone with a different approach to the lineup combinations of its factory-backed entries. Its three-driver crews contrast with the quartets deployed by Audi and BMW. Last year the ‘Mercedes-AMG Team’ entries featured four drivers. Most of the factory-driven Porsche 911 GT3 Rs have four-man crews.

***The Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo is set to race at the next two editions of the Nürburgring 24 beyond this one, after the manufacturer stated its intention to keep the current model around until the end of 2024. As reported by Sportscar365 last week, Mercedes-AMG is looking to introduce a new GT3 product in 2025.

***Glickenhaus Racing has brought several aero updates to its SCG 004C ahead of the car’s third N24 attempt in the SP-X class. Team principal Luca Ciancetti told Sportscar365 that Glickenhaus technical partner Podium Advanced Technologies went “more aggressive” on the aero in a bid to generate more downforce through high-speed corners. The updates include reprofiled sections of the diffuser and splitter and a modified section on each side ahead of the rear wheels.

***The Glickenhaus team has added special stickers to the 004C’s engine cover, one in tribute to a former Nürburgring employee who passed away recently, and the other in recognition of the absent Opel Manta entry.

***Followers of SRO America will recognize the name of U.S racer Jeff Ricca, who is making his N24 debut in a Mertens Motorsport Hyundai i30N. Ricca has driven Hyundai machinery in the TC America category for several years and has recently made a handful of NLS appearances in preparation for the 24.

***Octane126 faced a challenge to rebuild its Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 in time for the event, after an accident during the N24 Qualifiers caused significant front-end damage. The Swiss outfit has pitched up at the Nürburgring with its Ferrari dressed in a new gold design, after previously competing in dark blue and red.

***The team outlined its recent hardships in a blog post, where it also voiced dissatisfaction at recent sporting decisions and questioned the BoP process, describing the Ferrari as “weak and slower like never before” heading into this weekend. Octane126 claims that it is feeling the effects of horsepower being taken away since 2020, resulting in a 10.74 km/h (6.67 mph) deficit on the Dottinger Hohe straight.

***There are two Ferraris in the field, with the Racing One squad joining after missing the Qualifiers due to an accident in the build-up to that event. Its car is constructed to the first 488 GT3 Evo specification from 2018.

***Racing One announced its driver lineup on Tuesday: Jeroen Bleekemolen, Nick Foster, Jules Szymkowiak and Christian Kohlhaas will share the wheel. Factoring in this year, Bleekemolen has driven five different car types in his last five N24 appearances: Ferrari (2022), Audi (2019), Mercedes-AMG (2018), Glickenhaus (2016) and Bentley (2015).

***Toksport WRT has sold all three of its Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos to other customer teams, according to team principal Seyhun Duru. The German squad is now aligned with Porsche in GT3 competition after splitting with Mercedes-AMG due to what Duru has described as “lack of understanding” between the parties.

***Fifteen of the places in Friday evening’s Top Qualifying 2 shootout, which determines the N24 pole, are already confirmed based on previous race results. Click Here for the full list.

***Four Top Qualifying 2 berths are still up for grabs, with the four fastest Top Qualifying 1 cars advancing through to the final session. A dozen SP9 Pro entries are not locked in for Top Qualifying 2.

***Thursday’s N24 track action consists of two qualifying sessions, which are essentially used for practice and setup. The first is due to start at 12:30 p.m. CEST (6:30 a.m. ET) and lasts 90 minutes. The second session will last three hours and gets underway at 8:30 p.m. (2:30 p.m. ET).

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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