MOTORSPORT

Fog halts chaotic Nürburgring 24h

The world's most infamous race track couldn't get more challenging. Or so we thought.

Jordan Schmidt
June 3, 2024
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Fog halts chaotic Nürburgring 24h

  

The Nordschleife is an infamous race track that has claimed numerous cars in the past. Often regarded as the most difficult endurance circuit in the world, it seemed it couldn't get much more challenging. Yet, the 52nd Nürburgring 24h proved particularly perilous, especially for one of our local racers.

The forecast was concerning as the 24 Hours of Nürburgring began, and it was evident that the teams' nerves were at a peak. The questionable road surface forced drivers to pit before the race even started. However, this was merely the beginning of the insane weather and ever-deteriorating driving conditions for the race weekend. 

Max Hesse secured pole position for his team after setting some outstanding qualifying times, clocking an 8:10.992 lap time. Unfortunately, after the opening lap, his team, along with numerous other cars, had to change tyres due to the wrong compound for the conditions, giving the Manthey EMA 911 GT3 R a clear road ahead as the 24 hours began.

Both the BMW M4 GT3s and the 911 GT3s proved to be competitive early on, but a crash by our local hero, Sheldon van der Linde, put a spanner in the works for the BMW team. With 17 hours and 30 minutes remaining, the 911 GT3 Manthey had built up a confident 30-second lead, but as darkness descended, the fog began to set around the Nordschleife. 

What the teams would quickly realise is just how treacherous the circuit was under these conditions, as the leaders were struggling to get their times under an incredibly slow 20 minutes. Compared to the rest of the field, the Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 appeared to have less trepidation for slower drivers who might linger in the fog ahead, as it managed to crawl into first place before the fog thickened. 

After only seven hours and 22 minutes of racing, the event was red-flagged due to the conditions and remained unraceable into the morning. Unfortunately, a few safety laps later, with the sun now in the sky, the fog remained, leading to a somewhat disappointing end to the 24 Hours of Nürburgring. Frank Stippler, Christopher Mies, Ricardo Feller, and Dennis Marschall were crowned the kings of the shortest 24 Hours of Nürburgring in history, followed by the Manthey 911 GT3 R driven by Laurens Vanthoor, Thomas Preining, and Kevin Estre with the iconic car number 911. This left the bottom step of the podium open for the BMW M Team RMG M4 GT3 driven by Daniel Harper, Max Hesse, and Charles Weerts.

This year, the 24 Hours of Nürburgring might have been short, but it was nail-biting watching these GT cars go flat out with only 20 metres of visibility. It’s a shame it was called off after just seven hours and 22 minutes, but despite the limited time, it was an exciting racing event.

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