For many drivers, it takes years to claim the rare accolade of winning at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. It goes to show the talent and potential of someone like Nick Yelloly who achieved such a feat in only his second race in GT3 machinery on the world’s most brutal and unforgiving race track.
Yelloly’s performance in the Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race was impeccable, with his strong-paced stint in the middle of the race setting up the #101 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 that he shared with Christian Krognes and David Pittard for a good result. The margin of just how good that result lay in the hands of Krognes — who came out swinging in the final hour and delivered the chocolates, in the form of a well-earned outright victory for the entire team.
“It’s only my second race at the Nordschleife in a GT3, I’m so happy. It’s a very big race, the Qualification Race, and it’s a BMW one-two-three, it’s a mega job,” said Yelloly, still buzzing as he was congratulated by team members and drivers-alike.
“Christian did some really good stints, a stint and a half at the start and then the last stint with the overtake for the lead — I’m super, super happy.
“I learned a lot on the Yokohama tyre which is also very good and I think that will help me for the 24 Hours.
“If we can take the same sort of pace over and if it stays dry, we can definitely be in the running.”
The Brit’s speed and ability to adapt to the GT3 car fresh out of Porsche one-make racing and testing a Formula 1 car for the Racing Point F1 Team earlier in the week came as no surprise.
“I know I can adapt to things quite fast and obviously I’ve had good data to look at with Christian here and I had Sheldon [van der Linde] at Schnitzer; they have experience and I can look and learn fast and I’ve asked lots of questions,” he affirmed.
“To be not the weak link, it’s nice and to contribute as much as I can was also good. I’m really happy that we were able to bring it back for the team, they haven’t won here for a few years — it’s a nice way to start my first race with Walkenhorst.
“This [BMW M6 GT3] feels a lot slower around the corners and in the braking zones to start with, but the switch isn’t too bad; I’m used to it having done it from a simulator to a Porsche Cup car or whatever for a few years,” he said when asked about driving the different types of cars.
“After a few laps I have no problem, I feel very comfortable and we get on with it fast. My first laps were in the wet so that was a bit of a shock coming from the Formula 1 car.
“Once it was dry and I got a few laps, it didn’t take too long to get used to it. It looks like I had pretty good pace.”
GT3 racing is a chapter only in its beginning stages for the young gun, who has a number of aspirations for his sportscar career.
“I love the GT stuff. Formula 1 is a lot to do with money and if you’re in the right place at the right time coming up from single seaters,” Yelloly commented.
“I understand that the reason I made the move from single seaters to GTs was that I wanted to become a factory driver and then progress up the ranks, wherever that may be, within BMW is obviously the aim.
“You want to win the big races, you want to win Nürburgring 24, Spa 24, Daytona 24, Le Mans 24 — these are the races as a GT driver I dream of winning. We’ll see how that goes over the next few years.”
Closer on Yelloly’s radar is the upcoming Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“I’m really looking forward to it, obviously, after today’s race, it’s something to look forward to.
“We know we’ve still got work to do with the wet weather tyre, but with slicks we know we’re definitely in the window, as we proved today.”
Miguel Bosch contributed to this report.
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