【NLS(Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie) Round2 / Nürburgring】

Traditional ADVAN Livery For Walkenhorst Motorsport Cars, No.34 Car Commandingly Wins Overall With New Livery

NLS Round 2

Date 1 April 2023
Course Nürburgring
Weather Cloudy
Surface Dry
Race Time 4Hours

Nürburgring is known as one of the most demanding race tracks and, therefore, one of the most preferred ones by many racing drivers. And many automakers and tire manufacturers use the German circuit as their proving ground for development works.

Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie (NLS) is the endurance race series held at this particular track. For the second round of the series, Walkenhorst Motorsport, partnering with Yokohama Tire, entered two BMW M4 GT3s in the SP9 Pro class, as it did in the season opener.

NLS is a tire competition race series, so several tire manufacturers have factory-backed cars in their own liveries. And from this second round, two Walkenhorst cars were colored in the traditional ADVAN livery.

The NLS season’s second event gathered even more competitors as the 24-hour race in May was approaching, and the SP9 class had as many as 30 cars, a total number of three subclasses, Pro, Pro-Am, and Am. But two ADVAN-liveried M4s were quite eye-catching among them.

The Walkenhorst no.34 car had already shown its speed by claiming the pole position in the season’s opening event. So, heading to their first NLS round with the new red-and-black livery, held on April 1st, Saturday, expectations for better race results were high.

The qualifying session began at 8.30 a.m. when the track surfaces were wet, and the temperatures were low. Behind the wheel of the no.34 car in the session was Jesse Krohn, who is a 32-year-old Finn and belongs to this year’s BMW Motorsport squad. Trailing heavy water spray, he set 9’11″919 on his first proper qualifying attempt and put his name in fourth on the timing screen. Then he improved his time to 9’10″599 on the next run, which was the fastest lap at the time.

During the 90-minute session, as the rain temporarily got heavier but stopped toward the end, the track conditions were getting better. So naturally, most of the drivers significantly improved their qualifying time, which meant Krohn had to fight hard to regain the top slot. But, unfortunately, he hit traffic on each of the later attempts and couldn’t better his time. As a result, the no.34 car qualified in fourth, 4.015 seconds behind the pole sitter. And another ADVAN-liveried BMW from Walkenhorst Motorsport, no.35 car driven by Jens Klingmann, ended the session in 16th.

During the interval from the end of qualifying to the race start, there were no raindrops coming down from the overcast sky. It meant the track surfaces were slowly but steadily drying, so most teams picked the slick tires when they sent the cars out for the starting procedures.

The starting driver of the no.34 car, which was in the second row, was Jakub Giermaziak. Still fresh in our memory was that the Pole drove the same car and took the pole position in the season opener. After a rolling start, he dropped to fifth once on the opening lap but fought hard against his rivals when they were going through the forest of Eifel. Consequently, Giermaziak returned to the pit straight in second after the opening lap while many parts of the track were still damp, and even one of the leading cars lost control and crashed.

On Lap 2, Giermaziak overtook the no.12 Mercedes AMG at Veedol Chicane and became the race leader. After that, he logged the back-to-back fastest laps for four laps; 8’26”798 on Lap 2, 8’15”296 on Lap 3, 8’08”960 on Lap 4, and 8’04”769 on Lap 5, as the racing lines on the track was drying.

The no.35 car started the race with Klingmann behind the wheel. Starting from the 16th grid, he also moved up to ninth and made the car’s first pit stop at the end of Lap 6.

Giermaziak followed the teammate’s path on the next lap when about one hour had passed from the start. And the pit road suddenly became very busy because the leading 12 cars came into the pits on the same lap. Walkenhorst’s team crew refueled the car and replaced the tires, and Giermaziak stayed in the car for a double stint.

The track surfaces were almost dry at the time. The race leader was the no.911 Porsche, which made the first stop two laps earlier than the no.34 car, and the gap between these two was about 14 seconds.

As mentioned above, the track conditions improved in the second stint. However, it meant at the same time that everybody ran faster pace on the surfaces that were partly damp yet. As a result, a few cars spun or went off the track, which led to the yellow flags or the speed limit areas. And such a situation prevented Giermaziak from further improving his pace for a few laps.

The no.34 car came back to the pit for the second stop when it completed Lap 15, while the no.911 Porsche did the same two laps earlier.

When two hours had passed from the start of this 4-hour race, the no.34 car was fighting with two Porsche 911s, the no.911 leading the race and no.3 running in third then, for the top slot. Now at the hands of Krohn, the Walkenhorst’s BMW started to close the gap with the no.911. He was 7.068 seconds behind the Porsche at the end of Lap 18 but reduced it to 3.941 seconds on the next lap. Finally, the Finn passed the no.911 and took the lead on Lap 20, setting the new fastest lap on the lap when less than one hour was left.

But he wasn’t out of the woods yet. Instead of the Porsches, now BMW Junior Team’s no.44 M4 GT3 was coming close to the no.34 car from behind. On Lap 21, they sometimes fought side-by-side, but Krohn eventually managed to defend the lead position. And when he visited the pit for their third and final stop on Lap 24, he increased the gap with the car in second to more than 19 seconds. The team answered his effort with smooth pit work, which only took 1’44” for refueling and tire change.

With the considerable time gap which Krohn built during the third stint, the ADVAN-liveried no.34 car led the race comfortably throughout the remaining laps to the checkered flag. Thus, Walkenhorst’s ace car won its first race with the new livery in style without any trouble or accident.

The no.35 car also finished in 12th overall, thanks to Thomas Neubauer’s solid drive in the second half of the race.

Drivers’ Voices

Jakub Giermaziak (Walkenhorst Motorsport)

【Result : SP9 Pro Class (Overall) Winner】

“I only race here, so I have a little bit of an advantage over the other guys who have to learn other tracks. I am just about right here, the only place which I enjoy. Big congrats to Yokohama because they gave us really good tires. The car was amazing, like always, and yesterday they did an awesome job. I am very happy.”

Jesse Krohn (Walkenhorst Motorsport)

【Result : SP9 Pro Class (Overall) Winner】

“I really have to give a lot of credit to Yokohama. They really manufactured great tires. Now it is clear that we can compete in all conditions. And I’m really proud of the team, BMW, and Yokohama. I mean, today, this weekend was a crazy weekend. We have a little bit of everything. I think it was perfect preparation for the race. I couldn’t be happier, and I’m really sure that we are going to be up there in the 24.”

Engineer’s Voice

Masaaki Miyoshi [The Yokohama Rubber Co.,LTD. Motorsports Tire Development Dept. No.1 Tire Development Division]

“From this event, Walkenhorst’s cars are colored in the ADVAN-livery, which has been an icon to me. It is because the livery represents the efforts and contributions of those who have been involved in Yokohama Rubber’s motorsport history, and therefore it is so valuable. I must admit I have gotten deeply emotional about the fact that I am working on the cars in the traditional ADVAN-livery as a tire engineer.

“We had cloudy skies throughout the weekend. But, knowing that last year’s second round at this time of the season suffered from snowfall, low temperatures and wet track conditions were very predictable. And we were happy to race, at least, compared to last year’s situation. As for the qualifying, the no.34 car couldn’t improve the lap time in its final attempts mainly due to traffic, but the car was still in the leading group and secured the fourth position on the wet track, which was good.

“From what the forecast said, I expected a wet race. However, things are not as simple as I thought here in Nürburgring, and it became a race in mixed conditions, relying on the dry tires. Until the race, we had almost no mileage with the dry tires this weekend, so it wasn’t an easy situation regarding the tire choice. But I believe that information sharing with the team was one of the major factors in winning the race.

“While we collected a wide variety of data in this race, both of the first two races this season were under low temperature conditions. Therefore, we still need to check the tire performance under other temperature ranges and so on in the coming races. As a good effect of the victory in the second round today, I do feel the morale of the team and drivers improved further. We are fully committed to the preparation to the next races to deliver even better tire performance, which lives up to the long and successful tradition of the ADVAN-livery.”