American race car driver Mike Skeen has announced he will be joining three time VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) championship winning team Adrenalin Motorsport for the upcoming Nürburgring 12 Hours.
Nicknamed ‘The Ginger Stig’, Skeen currently sits 5th in the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship GTD class standings and 2nd in the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup and carries with him exceptional endurance racing skills having finished 3rd in last year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona and 2nd at the Sebring 12 Hours a few months later. Skeen is also the 2018 Hankook 24 Hours of Circuit of The Americas overall winner after having joined Black Falcon in their Mercedes-AMG GT3.
After last weekend’s IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship race at Lime Rock Park, which saw Skeen and Team Korthoff Motorsports compete in the GT-only specific race, GT REPORT was able to sit down with the North Carolina born racing driver and discuss this exciting opportunity.
During our last interview, you told us before that the Nürburgring was the one place, one race you would do over and over again. How excited are you for the NLS 12-hour race?
Extremely excited. I competed at an RCN event there last fall and really enjoyed it, but that to me was still not the full taste of racing wheel-to-wheel at the Ring. Doing it for 12 hours will be a blast and I can’t wait to get my DMSB Permit A to be able to do more racing over there.
You’re mostly know for racing Mercedes-AMG GT3s. What will you be racing in the NLS?
For the 12 hour I will be racing a Porsche Cayman with Adrenalin Motorsport, which will be in a highly competitive class. This will let me check off the required elements to get the DMSB Permit A. It should be a blast and open up more opportunities for racing other cars over there.
This is a big switch between a GT3 and a production based Cayman, what are the transferable skills?
All cars have their own little idiosyncrasies, but I’ve had the opportunity to race all kinds of different cars at different places, so it’s pretty easy to adapt. It’s always a matter of maximizing performance of the tire and the cars unique characteristics to get the best times out of it. No difference here.
How did the deal with Adrenalin Motorsports come about?
Someone I know who has raced with the team mentioned them to me and I was also already aware of their cars before. Shortly thereafter I sent the team an e-mail and asked what opportunities they had available. The rest was history.
How do you go about getting a Nürburgring license? How different is that from getting American licenses? Is the process difficult for tourists?
The Nürburgring licensing process is pretty unique. If you already have an FIA license from anywhere in the world, you can go to The Ring and do an RCN event or license class to get your Permit B, which then opens up the opportunity to go race in anything slower than a GT4 car. Then you have to do three races in order to get your Permit A, which opens the door to running the N24, or GT3 and GT4 cars in the NLS series. If you have no International license, you can do some baseline schools and stuff over there to do it, but obviously before any of this, you need to go do some laps and just get comfortable with the circuit because it’s its own little beast to learn.
As an American, how did you learn the Nürburgring?
I actually gained most of my knowledge from playing Gran Turismo as a kid. There were some very tricky challenges within the game and the track which meant I spent a lot of time doing laps there and learning every corner in detail. As a fan, I have also just watched a lot of onboard videos of the VLN series over the years. I was always interested in going because I thought the track was an amazing place, so the first time I went, I was well-prepared.
How do you expect the Nürburgring traffic to be? You will be racing multiple different classes at once. Would you see yourself having difficulties navigating through such major speed differences?
There are definitely huge differences in lap time between the GT3 cars and some of the lower classes in the NLS, but I have a lot of experience in mixed class racing. I have seen those kinds of differences before in various series, so I don’t expect that to be too much of an issue.
The Nürburgring is a very historic race track. How do you mentally prepare yourself to race there? What do you think will be your biggest challenge?
I think one of the biggest challenges will be the weather, and the fact that the track is so large. You may see rain on one part of the course but not on others, so not having specific knowledge about what the surface is like in the rain while driving and the fact that there are so many different surface types around the track will make things difficult. Not having that first-hand experience and knowledge, which you can’t really gain on a sim, will be tough, but I’m not going to know if that will be an issue until race weekend.
One last question, how can people keep up with your racing adventures?
Most of my updates are on Instagram and YouTube . I tend to post a lot of onboard videos and weekend recaps sharing behind the scenes footage from my races. Please subscribe and follow my adventures to the Nürburgring, IMSA races, and much more!
Interview by Christian Rodriguez.
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