2015 was the year when Edward Sandström took his first and thus far only win in the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring. The fast Swede drove the then brand-new Audi R8 LMS GT3 through a night of attrition and came out the other side victorious. Two years later, Sandström has jumped ship to Mercedes-AMG, who have placed him at last year’s runner-up HTP Motorsport.
The opportunity to return to the Nordschleife for the 24 Hours was a vital aspect of the deal. Aside from racing the Blancpain GT Series with HTP Motorsport, Edward Sandström returns to the track that’s close to his heart.
“AMG gave me a contract for the Nürburgring,” Sandström simply explains why he chose to go with the manufacturer from Stuttgart. “It’s an event that I like a lot.”
It’s an unfamiliar sight, watching Edward Sandström get into the Mercedes-AMG GT3 after the many years spent racing with Audi. For anyone aiming to win the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, however, there’s no better car than last year’s winner.
“I had a look at the Mercedes-AMG GT3 and it’s a cool car. It’s nice to drive, I’m starting to get the hang of it now.
“There’s a slight difference in characteristics [between the Audi and the AMG]. The weight balance, for example, is different, so it requires a little difference in driving style. In the end, I think, if you can drive one car, you can drive the other.
“In the AMG GT the driving comfort feels good. I feel a little bit more relaxed and can enjoy my driving some more. You have more of a feeling of what the car wants and how it behaves. It suits me quite well. I do need some more time in the car, but I guess that’ll come.”
In the run-up to the 24 Hours, HTP didn’t show its true performance just yet. Instead of going for the glory of the day, the German outfit went to the Eifel with the big one in mind.
“It’s always like this in these preparation races: You either go for the race result, or you just try and get the mileage and as much driving as possible. We’ve been aiming for the latter, to just get through it and prepare, get everyone up to speed. I think we’re pretty much there. The car feels good.”
As the GT circus descends on the tiny town of Nürburg, Sandström meets up with Dominik Baumann, Maximilian Buhk and Edoardo Mortara to share the number 50 HTP AMG. Out of the four, only Sandström has ever made it onto the top step of the podium at the legendary race track.
“It would mean a lot to win it once again,” the Örebro-born driver imagines. “It’s a race that I like a bit more than the others because it’s so difficult. It’s a big challenge with the night, the weather, the traffic and all the other circumstances.
“You have to be clever to win, but also fast. Nowadays you can’t just stroll around, you must go flat-out for 24 hours, just like in Spa and everywhere else.
“It requires a good team atmosphere, a driver line-up where you support each other and a bit of a clever mind during the race just to survive.
“We’ll see what we can do in the 24 Hours. It’s always a tricky race to win, but if you prepare well and if you’re focused, you can always challenge. I like that.”