【24h Nürburgring Qualifiers Race2 ／ Nürburgring】
No.101 Car Drops Out Due To Unfortunate Problem, No.102 Car Fights For Top 3 Until Slow Final Pit Stop
24h Nürburgring Qualifiers Race2
|23 April 2023
|Cloudy / Rain
On the following day of the first 2-hour race, the second 4-hour race of the 24-hour Qualifyiers was held on April 23rd, Sunday. Unlike the first race, which ended in the night hours, the second race was run entirely during daytime but for twice as long as the first one. And this was the last opportunity for the teams to run their cars on the same track with the 24-hour race May before that.
Walkenhorst Motorsport entered three BMW M4 GT3s again. The ADVAN-liveried no.101 car that competed in the SP9 Pro class kept the same driving team with the first race, Christian Krognes and Jakub Giermaziak. The no.102 car in the same ADVAN livery with the sister car had a third driver, Jesse Krohn, in addition to the pair of Andy Soucek and Jens Klingmann, who drove the car on Saturday’s race. Krohn was one of the winning pair in the second round of NLS (Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie). As for the no.100 car in the SP Pro-Am class, Jörg Breuer joined to form the driver trio with Henry Walkenhorst and Sami-Matti Trogen.
The 90-minute qualifying session started at 8:15 a.m. on the still-wet tarmac, and Giermaziak, behind the wheel of the no.101 car, went out to the track using the rain tires. But, as the rain had already stopped and the track conditions were improving, he returned to the pit soon to get the slick tires. The team did the tire change accordingly and sent Krognes out on the track. His best qualifying time was 8’15″441, which was about two seconds slower than the fastest driver but still good enough to secure second overall.
Thus, the no.101 car was allowed to join the Top Qualifying session, which was fought by 22 cars from the SP9, SP-X, and SP-Pro classes. Warkenhorst’s no.102 car and no.100 car were also eligible to take part in the Top Qualifying, as they ended the qualifying session in seventh and 15th, respectively. The participating cars of this session formed a line on the main straight and began their qualifying attempts one by one at regular intervals.
The sky was still overcast, but the track surfaces were completely dry. Giermaziak driving the no.101 car, was the 13th fastest with a time of 8’16″209, and Klingmann, in the no.102 car, got one place ahead by setting 8’16″204. And the no.100 car claimed the 17th grid by Trogen’s 8’19”544.
The 4-hour race got underway at 1:00 p.m. with a rolling start after a formation lap. When the field that was going into Turn 1, Klingmann in the no.102 car got off to a good start. He smoothly went through the first few corners, where accidents occur often, and moved up to ninth at the end of the opening lap.
On the other hand, the no.101 car wasn’t so lucky. On Lap 3 at Brünnchen Corner, at the eastern end of this 25 km circuit, the car had a problem with one of its wheels. Consequently, it halted at the exit of the corner and had to retire on the spot.
The first race on Saturday saw fewer accidents despite the wet track. But the dry conditions on the second race meant a higher pace, which inevitably increased the number of incidents, such as crashes or going off the track. Therefore, the competitors had to deal with the speed limits or the yellow flag areas from place to place, which made their race even more challenging.
The no.102 car was doing well and made the first pit stop on Lap 7 when it was running in sixth. Klingmann handed the car to Soucek for the second stint, and the Spaniard improved the position to third when two hours had passed from the start, at the halfway point of the race, by his great effort on the track. At the end of Lap 10, the gap with the race leader at the time, the no.11 Mercedes AMG GT3, was just 7.850 seconds.
Soucek headed to the pit lane on Lap 15 to change to Krohn. The team’s plan was to entrust the remaining two stints to the finish to the Finn. After making the second stop a little earlier than the leading competitors, the no.102 car in the hands of Krohn gained another position. When he was on the 21st lap and less than one hour left, the new race leader, the no.30 Ferrari 296 GT3, was 14.633 seconds ahead of him. While the car behind, the no.2 Mercedes AMG GT3, put pressure on him, Krohn defended the position until his last scheduled stop on Lap 22.
However, a mishap occurred to the no.102 car, as there was a problem with refueling, which led to a costly time loss against the other leading car that made their final pit stops on the next lap. Because the gap with the leader grew significantly by this happening, and it started to drizzle in certain areas around the circuit, the team asked Krohn not to push hard to recover in light to avoid unnecessary risk. So he just drove safely for the rest of the race, and the no.102 car finished in sixth in the SP9 Pro class.
Masaaki Miyoshi [The Yokohama Rubber Co.,LTD. Motorsports Tire Development Dept. No.1 Tire Development Division]
“The air temperature during the qualifying session on Saturday was the highest since the opening round of NLS. So we could collect good data, looking toward the 24-hour race in May. We used these Qualifiers as part of the study on the car and the tires for the 24-hour because the results of these two races don’t decide the starting grid position of the race in May.
“Our cars started the first race with the rain tires because we had rainfall before the start. We had already used the rain tires in the NLS round’s qualifying session but had yet to do so in the race since the series’ season opener this year. So this was an excellent opportunity to know what we need to do on them, and we can improve the wet tires before the 24-hour. While an unfortunate mechanical problem hit the no.101 car in the second race, the no.102 car showed strong performance and ran consistently until the mishap in the last pit stop, which was a good sign for us.
“We have experienced various conditions up to now this year, and I feel we could get much deeper understanding of the car and the tires than we did last year. In the 24-hour race, it won’t be easy to finish even in the top ten, but we are committed to taking aim at the overall win as part of the ADVAN Challenge.”