➤ 41 laps were completed over the scheduled distance of 6 hours in the Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race. The two-day event saw 97 cars take the green flag of whom 79 made it to the end. 18 cars retired.
➤ 97 cars on the grid marks the second-largest field in the 6-year-history of the Qualifying Race. 101 cars started in 2017.
➤ Walkenhorst Motorsport won the race with a time of 6:04:27.357 and a fastest lap of 8:19.081 set in lap 38 by Christian Krognes. This was Walkenhorst’s first Nürburgring win since the heat-stricken VLN4 in 2015 when Michela Cerruti, Felipe Fernández Laser and Jesse Krohn raced the BMW Z4 GT3 to the team’s maiden victory.
➤ The fastest lap of the race was set by the SPX-entered Octane126 Ferrari 488 GT3. Simon Trummer clocked a time of 8:18.195 in lap 33.
➤ Click HERE to read the race report.
➤ Click HERE for the full photo gallery.
➤ The Top 30 Shoot-out on Sunday morning went the way of Black Falcon. The Yelmer Buurman-driven Mercedes-AMG GT3 was quickest in the wet session with a time of 9:20.698. “The car felt good and gave us a lot of confidence, we went for it,” said Buurman. “I started to reel in the Rowe BMW, a car that usually is pretty fast in the rain. That’s when I knew it was going rather well. We do have a display with a reference time from earlier session and I saw I was quicker, but you never know how fast the others are going. I crossed the line in P1 but feared that because the track was drying and there were a lot of cars behind me still coming over the finish that they’d improve on my time. No-one did, however, and we took pole position.”
➤ A wrong tyre pressure, however, cost the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 the lead at the start. “We went way too high,” Buurman explained. “The first lap was a struggle and I dropped back.” The team, however, could quickly recover with a first-lap pitstop to switch to slicks and finished fifth. Read the FULL INTERVIEW.
➤ Key for the first stint was the choice of rubber. Whereas many of the frontrunners went with rain tyres – a sensible choice considering the conditions during qualifying – intermediates, also called cut slicks, were the way to go for the opening laps. Both Stef Dusseldorp in the Falken Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 and Christian Krognes in the Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 began the race on the intermediate tyres and were quick to drive to the lead positions. “We chose cut slicks for the start which was a good choice,” Krognes said. “Eighty-percent of the field was on rain tyres so it was only a matter of getting through the traffic and then setting off and chasing the Falken BMW who were also on cut slicks.” Read the FULL INTERVIEW.
➤ Formula 1 development driver and BMW works driver Nick Yelloly took victory in only his second GT3 start at the Nürburgring. The Brit was fresh off a testing session earlier in the week with Racing Point F1 Team at Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. “After a few laps I have no problem, I feel very comfortable and we get on with it fast,” said Yelloly. “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.” Read the FULL INTERVIEW.
➤ In the ever-changing world of Balance of Performance, Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003c and the Mercedes-AMG GT3 were given an ‘BoP’ break. The SCG003c received a larger restrictor for more power — although dialed back in sixth gear by way of decreased the maximum turbo pressure — while the AMG’s minimum weight got lowered by 15 kilogram to a total of 1,345 kilogram, still leaving the three point star the heaviest of the GT3s. Audi and Porsche were handed additional weight: The Audi R8 LMS GT3 got 15 kilogram added for a total of 1,325 kilogram, the Porsche 991.2 GT3R now weights in at 1,320 kilogram, 10 kilogram more than at VLN3.
➤ Best of the non-GT3 finishers was Toyota Gazoo Racing with its Lexus LC driven by Takeshi Tsuchiya, Naoya Gamou, Takamitsu Matsui and Yuichi Nakayama. The Cologne-based team finished 24th overall.
➤ Fastest of the GT4s was the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT4 entered in the SP8T class. Stephan Rösler, Yannick Mettler, Maik Rosenberg and Mike Stursberg finished 25th overall with a lap over the next-best GT4, the AMR Performance Centre Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 (Darren Turner/Peter Cate/Alex Brundle) entered in SP8T as well.
➤ Watch the highlights of the Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race.
➤ Michelin seems to be no longer the sole supplier of top-tier tyres. Pivotal to Walkenhorst’s victory was the car’s traction out of slow corners, attributed to Yokohama‘s improved rubber, that allowed Krognes to drag race Krohn for the lead on the penultimate lap. The Japanese tyre manufacturer brought a new tyre to the Nürburgring for this weekend’s race with immediate succes. Although the rain tyre is not on par with Michelin’s and the new tyre has yet to prove itself under hot conditions, the Qualifying Race’s conditions served Yokohama well. This was underlined by the Yokohama-shod Kondo Racing Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 setting the second-fastest theoretical lap time of 8:17.889 (motorsport-total.de). Falken Tyres likewise had a promising showing with its own BMW M6 GT3 leading the race for the first stint on intermediates and keeping the pace until a brake failure ended that car’s race.
➤ Three works-supported Audi R8 LMS GT3s will contest the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Christopher Haase (winner in 2012, 2014), René Rast (winner in 2014), Markus Winkelhock (winner in 2012, 2014, 2017) and Marcel Fässler share the cockpit of the Audi Sport Team Car Collection R8 LMS GT3. Christopher Haase and René Rast are also entered on the Audi Sport Team Land car with co-pilots Kelvin van der Linde (winner in 2017) and Christopher Mies (winner in 2015, 2017). Audi Sport Team Phoenix enters Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler (winner in 2012), Dries Vanthoor and Fred Vervisch. Additionally, Car Collection enters a privately-run Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Stefan Aust, Christian Bollrath, Jean-Louis Hertenstein and Klaus Koch, while Phoenix Racing does the same for Jamie Green, Vincent Kolb, Kim-Luis Schramm and Frank Stippler, the latter also racing the team’s factory car.
➤ Zakspeed has elected to leave its SRT Viper GT3-R at home for the Nürburgring 24 Hours. An instant fan-favourite, the local team decided against entering its newly acquired car due to Balance of Performance concerns, having been hit with another unfavourable adjustment before VLN3.
➤ Wochenspiegel Team Monschau, on the other hand, are showing up with both its Ferrari 488 GT3s for the Nürburgring 24 Hours after earlier this year making a last-minute call to leave VLN for the 24H Series. The two Rinaldi Racing-ran prancing horses were raced last weekend by Georg Weiss, Leonard Weiss and Hendrik Still (#11 Ferrari, finished P19) and Oliver Kainz, Jochen Krumbach and Alexander Mattschull (#22 Ferrari, retired after 2 laps with an overheating engine). South African David Perel (#241 Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M235i Racing Cup, retired after 20 laps), a Rinaldi Racing regular in the Blancpain GT Series, obtained his Nordschleife Permit A and will take place in one of the WTM Ferraris for the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
➤ The #912 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R now carries car number 1 to celebrate its 2018 victory.
➤ After returning from injury for VLN3 to grab an outright as well as an SP7 class podium, Manuel Metzger followed up his Nürburgring success with victory in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia at Buriram alongside Récardo Bruins Choi in the Solite Indigo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. Metzger missed the first race of the season at Sepang, where Bruins Choi won with Metzger’s substitute and fellow Black Falcon driver Gabriele Piana.
➤ During Saturday practice, Metzger, however, narrowly escaped another serious injury when he crashed near Klostertal. The German was caught off guard during his first Nordschleife lap of the weekend by a slippery surface at the high-speed corner section leading up to the Steilstrecke and lost control. Dominik Baumann in the #16 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 was unable to avoid the #2 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 and smacked into the back of the stopped AMG. Both drivers were taken to nearby hospitals, with Metzger bruised but not broken while Baumann fractured his collarbone. Both entries were withdrawn from the remainder of the weekend. Kévin Estre was also involved in the accident but was able to bring his Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R back to the pits (sportscar-info.de).
➤ Bad news from the mcchip-dkr camp: The Danny Kubasik-led team recently brought its brand-new Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo to the Skylimit Track Day at the Nordschleife for testing where the car was damaged in a 240 kph accident at Aremberg due to a brake failure. Kubasik escaped with minor injury, but the car did not, sustaining heavy but repairable damage. The accident won’t have any impact on mcchip-dkr’s participation in the Nürburgring 24 Hours, however, as ‘Bolle’, as the car has been nicknamed by the team, was never intended to race the twice around the clock anyway. Instead, mcchip-dkr is supporting the Kondo Racing Nissan works team, with the Huracán’s next outing scheduled for VLN4.
➤ Mercedes-AMG announced its line-up for four factory-supported, or Performance, cars at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. Three of the cars are entered by Black Falcon: the #2 Mercedes-AMG GT3 will be raced by Adam Christodoulou (winner in 2016), Maro Engel (winner in 2016), Manuel Metzger (winner in 2016) and Dirk Müller (winner in 2004); #3 by Maximilian Buhk, Hubert Haupt, Thomas Jäger (D) and Luca Stolz; and #6 by Patrick Assenheimer, Nico Bastian, Yelmer Buurman and Gabrielle Piana. HTP Motorsport enters the #48 Mercedes-AMG Team Mann-Filter with drivers Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz, Christian Hohenadel and Raffaele Marciello. Customer team GetSpeed Performance brings three works driver-laden AMGs: Two cars with a yet-to-be-determined line-up consisting of Dominik Baumann, Philip Ellis, Kenneth Heyer, Luca Ludwig, Jan Seyffarth, Tristan Vautier, Fabian Vettel and Renger van der Zande, as well as the J2 Racing-branded AMG for Janine Hill, John Shoffner, Markus Palttala and Fabian Schiller.
➤ Two notable absentees from the Qualifying Race: Lance David Arnold was forced out by the flu, leaving Christian Hohenadel and Raffaele Marciello in the #48 Mercedes-AMG Team Mann Filter Mercedes-AMG GT3 to go at it alone, while Lucas Ordóñez returned back home due to a family emergency. Ordóñez was scheduled to drive the race-winning Walkenhorst BMW.
➤ 2005 VLN champion and former BMW Z4 GT3 race winner Claudia Hürtgen is back for this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours in a Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport-entered BMW M4 GT4 shared with two-time VLN champion Michael Schrey, Thomas Jäger (A) and 2017 VLN championship runner-up Michael Fischer. The combination took a strong victory in the SP10 class, finishing fourth overall of all GT4 cars that were spread across different classes.
➤ Second in SP10 was the Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 driven by 2018 VLN champions Christopher Rink, Danny Brink and Philipp Leisen, together with Marcel Lenerz. For the 24-hour race Dirk Adorf replaces Lenerz as fourth driver, continuing his job as television reporter from within the cockpit.
➤ The 2019 Nürburgring 24 Hours takes place on 22-23 June. The race week begins on Wednesday with the parade down to Adenau for the Adenauer Racing Day. First practice is scheduled for Thursday afternoon with the first qualifying session that night.