They may won the Nürburgring 24 Hours last year, but if Audi want to stand on the top step of the podium come the end of this year’s edition of the German classic, it’s going to require a super-human effort.
At the end of Thursday’s proceedings, things looked promising for the ‘Four Rings’ after defending champ, Kelvin van der Linde topped the first qualifying session of the weekend in the number 1 Audi Sport Team Land R8 LMS GT3. The South Africa driver was in good spirits when he spoke to GT REPORT following the session and believed everything was on track for a N24 title defence.
However, by the time the gloves came off and Top 30-Qualifying was over on Friday evening, the joyous atmosphere in the Audi garages had seemingly evaporated. With the best of the Ingolstadt machines a distant 15th on the grid for today’s N24, there is no doubt the word ‘BoP’ has been thrown around a few times overnight.
Robin Frijns was kind enough to speak to GT REPORT after he only managed 23rd on the grid aboard the number 8 Audi Sport Team WRT R8 in Top 30-Qualifying. Frijns admitted that he was one of the many who feels Audi are at a BoP dis-advantage this weekend.
“It’s not the best, could be worse of course,” said the Dutchman. “Still a long race ahead, everything is quite close together still – we will see where we end up Sunday.
“We’ve won four times the last five or six years, so I think we’re always looking quite strong and we’ve got a worse BoP than last year. Last year we were quite dominant and I think they tried to slow us down which helps for them, but not for us.”
With rain forecasted at stages during the race, Frijns says he will be holding out for the wet conditions in order to make inroads towards the front of the field.
“I’m waiting for the rain,” added Frijns. “So far, I’m always quite strong in the wet, the Audi is always a good car in the wet as well.
“I never have any issues in the wet even though it’s Nürburgring-Nordschleife and it’s easy to go off. Let’s just hope that there is not a lot of Code 60s and yellow flags in the wet, I think there will be though.
“If it’s wet, if it’s dry then it’s for everyone the same and you have to make the best out of it.”
The Nürburgring 24 Hours sees the green flag on Saturday at 15:30 CET.
Miguel Bosch contributed to this report.