For the Porsche customer teams, the two test races before the 24-hour highlight on the Eifel circuit concluded with acceptable results and important insights. On Saturday, works drivers Julien Andlauer (F), Matt Campbell (AUS) and Matthieu Jaminet (F) finished in the top six for their team Toksport WRT. On Sunday, the KCMG quartet Dennis Olsen (N), Earl Bamber (NZ), Josh Burdon (AUS) and Nick Tandy (GB) improved this result by one position.
The 24h Qualifiers serve as a dress rehearsal for the 24-hour classic on 28/29 May and offer plenty of track time on the special combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife measuring a total length of 25.378 kilometres. This year’s format was new: Instead of a six-hour race, the Nürburgring weekend encompassed two 180-minute races including the qualifying and the individual time trial in the Top Qualifying session. Saturday’s race took off at 6.30 pm and continued until dusk. The lights for race two on Sunday went green at 2 pm. The results of the 24h Qualifiers partly determine who is allowed to qualify for the top 30 at the 24-hour race – this underlines the sporting value of the event for the many teams with ambitions to win. Thirty of the 88 participating vehicles came from Porsche, six of them the 911 GT3 R.
The KCMG crew wrapped up the Top Qualifying on Saturday in ninth place, with the 911 GT3 R fielded by Toksport WRT starting on P14. In the first race, Andlauer, Jaminet and Campbell worked their way up to position six under changeable conditions. Falken Motorsports’ No. 33 Porsche driven by Sven Müller (D), Jaxon Evans (NZ), Patrick Pilet (F) and Marco Seefried (D) finished 14th. Dinamic Motorsport achieved 19th with the driver quartet Christian Engelhart, Marvin Dienst (both D), Adrien de Leener (B) and Frederick Schandorff (DK), while the Porsche campaigned by Huber Motorsport with the all-German crew Nico Menzel, Joachim Thyssen and Klaus Rader took the flag in position 21. KCMG had to retire after hitting the barrier and Falken’s No. 44 entry was unable to take part due to an accident in practice.
In today’s second qualifier race, both Falken Motorsports Porsches were back in action. The newly repaired No. 44 car driven by Lars Kern (D), Alessio Picariello (B), Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger (both A) even set the eighth quickest time in the Top Qualifying session. The best grid position for Porsche – fourth place – was achieved by Nico Menzel in the 911 GT3 R fielded by Huber Motorsport. In the race, the KCMG crew put in a spirited charge from 21st to fifth place. Olsen, Bamber, Burdon and Tandy were one position in front of the No. 44 Falken car. The trio competing for Huber Motorsport rounded off the top dozen, with the Porsche from Dinamic Motorsport securing 15th. The No. 33 Falken-911 GT3 R was knocked out of contention after an early accident in the “Mutkurve”. Toksport WRT’s Porsche catapulted out of the pit lane after having the steering system replaced only to be pulled back in again.
“The first race ran relatively smoothly. With the changeable weather conditions, it reflected what we can expect at the 24-hour race,” says the 911 GT3 R Project Manager Sebastian Golz. “In the qualifying session for Sunday’s race, Huber Motorsport achieved a great result posting the fourth-fastest time. KCMG drove a clean race to finish fifth and used the time to carry out tyre tests. Sixth place for Falken Motorsports is pleasing after the car’s big accident on Saturday. Still, these results don’t show the desired picture for the 24-hour race – we have work to do.”
Comments after the races
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #27): “We started race one from 14th and managed to make up ground quickly to sixth place at the flag. My final stint was a bit tricky but that’s precisely why we’re here. The qualifiers give us a good chance to prepare for the 24-hour race. We’ve only contested two events for Toksport WRT, we’re learning a lot and constantly trying to improve. While the team is doing really well, we still have a lot of work ahead of us.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #18): “That was a weekend of mixed fortunes. Everything went well on Saturday but then an accident threw us out of contention. Today, we reached the flag and achieved a decent result with fifth place. The competition is fierce. We’re working hard to improve and progress one step at a time. Then, by the 24-hour race, we want to pull all the pieces of the puzzle together.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44): “Sixth place in race two is a conciliatory end to the weekend. After the accident on Saturday, the guys from Falken Motorsports were still working on repairs at 6 am this morning. Afterwards, the car ran like clockwork and we felt really good in the car. Alessio Picariello turned a blistering qualifying lap in 8.10 minutes and planted the car on the eighth grid spot. That was outstanding. For the qualifier race, it was pretty brutal out on the track so we can be happy with this result. We have some homework that we can and must do, then we’ll be a little more prepared for the 24-hour race.”
Nürburgring 24 Hours, Qualifier Race 1
1. Harper/Hesse/Verhagen (GB/D/USA), BMW M4 GT4, 21 laps
2. Eng/Farfus/Yelloly (A/BR/GB), BMW M4 GT3, 21 laps
3. Engel/Gounon/Juncadella (D/F/E), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 21 laps
6. Andlauer/Campbell/Jaminet (F/AUS/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 21 laps
14. Evans/Müller/Pilet/Seefried (NZ/D/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 21 laps
19. Engelhart/Dienst/De Leener/Schandorff (D/D/B/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 21 laps
21. Thyssen/Rader/Menzel (D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 21 laps
Nürburgring 24 Hours, Qualifier Race 2
1. Götz/Schiller/Christodoulou (D/D/GB), Mercedes-AMG GT3, 20 laps
2. Hesse/Harper/Verhagen (D/GB/USA), BMW M4 GT3, 20 laps
3. Mies/Kolb/Drudi (D/D/I), Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo 2, 20 laps
5. Olsen/Burdon/Tandy/Bamber (N/AUS/GB/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 20 laps
6. Bachler/Kern/Picariello/Ragginger (A/D/B/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 20 laps
12. Thyssen/Rader/Menzel (D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 19 laps
15. Engelhart/Dienst/De Leener/Schandorff (D/D/B/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 19 laps