Enthusiast's Guide To The 24 Hours Of The Nurburgring

RE_20120519_4443_01 For the second time in a week, drivers will converge on an historic racing circuit in Central Europe for a twice-around-the-clock multi-class sports car endurance race.  With the competition descending upon the green hell this weekend, we will continue our series of articles covering the various road racing series and important races all over the world. Previously we have covered: 

This time, we’re here to discuss an excellent exposition of FIA GT3 cars on one of the best circuits in the world at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. Hit the jump for all the details. If it’s a car, and it runs, chances are you can find a class for it at the Nurburgring 24. Everything from brand new GT3 spec cars all the way down to a BMW E36 325i, and a Seat Leon TDI. The most important class, however is the SP9 GT3 category, which houses the cars that will fight tooth and nail for the overall victory. Flugplatz, Karussel, Bergwerk, and Pflanzgarten, the cars will all have to conquer these sections and dozens of others, let alone the competition, to come out on top. We’ll break down each category, and talk a bit about each of the major players. I’ll admit right now that I don’t really understand all of these classes, as there are 19 total classes, and 172 cars entered. It’s a bit convoluted, but I’ll do my level best. Look forward to an amazing race, as it always promises to be, especially at the sharp end of the grid.

Important links

For the TLDR set, I’ll put the important links at the top of the page, so you can find them easier. Live Streaming Video Live Streaming Audio Live Timing and Scoring Vehicle Tracker SP3 Class Subaru WRX STI Live Stream  SP8, SP-Pro, and SP3 Class Gazoo Racing Toyota Live Stream Nissan Motorsport SP9 Class Live Stream Audi Motorsport SP9 Class Live Stream Entry List  Spotter Guide SP classes are categories specifically for “racing machines” or “Specials”. The V classes are for ‘Produktionswagen’, or street-cars. The Cup classes are for one-make series racers. We’ve got 20 different classes to run down, so lets get started!

Class SP9 – GT3

This class is, by far, the most important class in the field. This is where the manufacturer support comes, this is where the best drivers compete, and this is where the focus will be centered. Essentially an FIA GT3 category, SP9 has all of the usual suspects, including McLaren’s 12c, Audi’s R8, BMW’s Z4, Porsche’s 997 GT3 R Merc’s SLS AMG, Nissan’s GT-R, Ferrari’s 458, and Aston Martin’s Vantages. RE_20120519_5124_01 From what qualifying has shown us so far, the fastest cars are Doerr Motorsports’ McLarens and Phoenix Racing’s perennially quick Audi R8s. It is a long race, and really most of the competition in this class should have a shot at the title. The combination of most competent driver lineup/best prepared car, in my opinion, is a toss up between Phoenix Racing’s #4 Audi R8 (Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, Rene Rast, and Markus Winkelhock), and the #44 Falken Motorsports 997 GT3 R (Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger, and Alexandre Imperatori). That said, nobody should ever take their eyes off of Black Falcon’s Mercs.

Class SP-PRO

Gazoo_Lexus_LFA_Code_X SP-PRO is a new class for 2014, and the rough translations from German tell me that this is a class for cars that would normally compete in SP8, SP7, or SP6, but fitted with “non-standard” engines. You would think that these cars would show up higher on the leader board, as they are faster outright cars, but for some reason, they seem to be hampered, perhaps by air restrictors, higher minimum weights, or some other means. The class only has two entrants in the form of a 997 GT3 RSR from Wochenspeigel-Team Manthey, and something described as a Lexus LFA “Code X” from Gazoo Racing (it would seem that this LFA has had its engine increased to 5.3 liters, and been optimized for endurance racing). In a fight of Japan vs. Germany, my money is soundly on Germany.

Class SP8/SP8T

1098972 What do an Audi RS4, a C6 Corvette, A Lexus LFA, a pair of Lexus IS-F, A Hyundai Genesis V6, an Aston V12 Vantage, a V8 Vantage, and an M235i have in common? Well, those are the entrants in the SP8 category (the M235i is the only SP8 Turbo classed car.) No, it doesn’t make much sense to me either. Rotek’s RS4 recently took the victory in this class during the 6 hour race earlier this year, but the C6 Corvette entered was the class victor in 2013. Gazoo’s LFA is almost guaranteed to be a front runner if everything holds together. The factory effort BMW M235i will have Evo Magazine editor Jethro Bovingdon at the wheel, and that livery is certainly eye-catching. BMWM235i

Class SP7

10298555_692108464184356_312674537108683736_o The SP7 class is 100% constructed for the mass of Porsche GT3 Cup cars that show up. 21 total Porsche GT3 cup cars are entered in this class. 20 of them are 997 based, and 1 is a brandy-new 991 cup. Porsche experts like Manthey Racing and Kremer Racing are entering the class, and would be hard to bet against. Kremer, in fact, has made enough changes to a standard 997 Cup car that they have given it a new name, the “Porsche GT3 KR”.

Class SP6

prosport-24h-2012-1200px018 The SP6 class makes a little bit of sense in the way that it places some similar cars in its class, namely BMW’s E46 M3, E36 M3 GTR, and Z4, and a single Porsche Cayman. Last year’s victors, Doerr Racing, drove a Z4. This year, Doerr have stepped up to the SP9 GT3 category, but the Z4 should still be a solid platform at this track.

Class SP10 GT4

billy-news Run to Stefane Ratel’s ‘SRO’ GT4 regulations, the SP10 class should be another hotly contested grouping of cars. Four Aston Vantages, two BMW M3s, and one each Porsche GT3 Cup, and Ginetta G50, the SP10 class has variety and competition in spades. The #100 Aston Martin will be run as an Aston Martin factory effort, and will be driven, in part, by automotive journalists and all around hooligans Chris “monkey” Harris, and Dicky Meaden. They will be joined German sports car drivers Oliver Mathai and Andreas Gulden (the chief instructor for the Nurburgring driving academy).

Class SP5

24h-Rennen-Nuerburgring-2012-No107-19-fotoshowImageNew-bd91d0da-597358 An all-BMW all-the-time class, featuring an E46 M3, a 1M, and a 130i ‘GTR’. The 130i appears to be sponsored by a pornography company, as it is frequently seen racing emblazoned with topless ladies. Whether that is an advantage or not is not yet known, I may have to do some more research… It’s hard to argue against a 1M in this class, but it’s 24 hours, and anything could happen.

Class SP4T

SNC100421 The SP4T class is four cars deep, three rocking out with Audi’s TT, and one team using a Ford Focus ST. Without doubt, the clear favorite in this class is Rotek Racing, who have Kevin Gleason, Robb Holland, Rob Huff, and Richard Meins at the wheel. Their VLN-specific Audi TT RS really killed it last year at the 25 Hours of Thunderhill, and if they keep the car together, they shouldn’t have issue winning here either.

Class SP3/SP3T

Opel_Manta_B_VLN Bookended by Gazoo Racing’s Toyota GT86, and Kissling Motorsport’s vintage Opel Manta, the SP3/3T class is filled with all kinds, including a factory Subaru WRX STI, a gaggle of Renault Clios, some Audi TTs, a Honda S2000, a Scirocco N24, a MKV GTi, and a MKIII GTi. Essentially a catch-all class for any racing-prepared car under 2 liters in displacement, this is an eclectic mixture, for sure. 10252160_665022216905558_6504095757132386747_n  

Class SP2T

01412047-52a0-4bf8-a909-bd1f2ef651ac A Hyundai of Germany sponsored Veloster takes on a Fiesta ST, and a pair of MINI Cooper S racers in the SP2T category. As resources and manpower go, my bet would have to follow the Hyundai.  

Class AT

10-rennen-10 I have been looking for days to try to find an explanation of what the “AT” class signifies. The VLN website doesn’t even list it as a viable category, but there it is… Somehow, there is a Scirocco TDi, a first generation “Chrysler” Viper, a Focus RS, a Seat Leon, and an Audi A4 all competing in the same class. The Leon is new for this year, but the other four all competed last year. You would think that the Viper would be quick, what with a sports car chassis and all of that power, but you would be wrong. The fastest lap of the Viper was about 13 seconds shy of the Audi A4, and still 9 seconds short of the time set by the diesel Scirocco.

Class V6

Mathol-Karch-Cayman-670x446 For production cars up to 3.5 liters, this class has a load of Porsches, including a couple 987 Cayman R, a handful of brand new 981 Cayman S, and even a few 991 base Carrera street-based racers. The outlier in this group is a single E46 BMW M3. It will be interesting to see how the 981S vs. Base 991 will play out, as the Cayman is a little down on power to the Carrera 2, but has the weight advantage, as well as the advantage of an engine in the middle. I know I’d rather be in the Cayman.

Class V5

ringtaxi-bmw-z4-nuerburgring-nordschleife The V5 class will be fought among the three BMW Z4s brought by Adrenalin Motorsport. Looks like they can boast a 1-2-3 finish in class before they’ve even started the race!

Class V4

N71_6801 In this class, a bunch of E92 chassis BMW 325i gang up on a single W204 Merc C-class in a battle for small-displacement German sedan world-dominance. With only one bullet in the gun, I wouldn’t bet on the Merc, but you never can tell.

Class V3

MazdaMX-5_Nuerburgring_2014_en_jpg300-660x439 The V3 class (for production sports cars 2 liters or less) is interesting, as it seems that Mazda is taking a stand to dominate this category. As the NC chassis Miata is in its waning years, Mazda still thinks it has something to prove. Hiring Le Mans LMP2 winners JOTA Sport to field your MX5 is maybe a bit overkill, but hiring a retired F1 driver to be your ringer has got to put your car firmly on the map. Stefan Johannson will anchor the four man team (which also includes journalist Owen Mildenhall), and they will compete against 9 Toyobaru GT86/BRZ, a Civic Type R, an Opel Astra OPC, and a Renault Clio RS.

Class V2T

Only one car is running in this class, an Opel Astra H OPC. Apparently, there exist no high-resolution photos of this car anywhere on the internet, as I exhausted tens of minutes searching for one. You can bet that they will win this class, though.

Class Cup 1

288787-m The Cup 1 class is packed with 9 identical Opel Astra OPC Cup cars, but it seems that Bonk Motorsport is just a little more identical than the others. Bonk won the Cup 1 championship in 2013, and are already on form this year. There are 8 other Opels waiting to knock them off their peg, though. Could be good racing.

Class Cup 2

P90147383-bmw-m235i-racing-cup-12-04-2014-vln-dmv-4-stunden-rennen-round-2-nurburgring-germany-rechtefrei-nutz-600px BMW has introduced an interesting concept with a near-production spec-racer version of the M235i. They still aren’t sure what to do with it in the North American market, but it seems to have found a home in Germany, as there will be fourteen of these identical turbocharged beasties lining up on Saturday to take the green at the Green Hell. Keep an eye on this one, as it could be a cool little one-make race within the race. All photos sourced from their respective teams, or manufacturers press offices.

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