VLN: Nürburgring 24 Hours Preview
Sitting in the middle of the German Eifel forest is one of the worlds most challenging sports car racing circuits. Some call it the “Green Hell” others have just tagged it with the name “The Ring”. It first opened in 1927 and has been expanded and reduced several times during the years. Today it consists of two circuits the first is the 2.3-mile Grand Prix circuit opened in 1984.
The second is the Nordschleife or North Course that winds through the German forest for 12.9 miles. Each year a 24 Hour race is held at the Ring and attracts almost 200 entries divided into three large starting groups. The 24-hour race begins Saturday May 19 at 4pm (10am Eastern time) and finishes Sunday at 4pm (10am Eastern time). The start finish line is located on the Grand Prix course near the historic town of Nurburg.
One race lap totals 15.2 miles and combines the 2.3-mile F1 course with the 12.9-mile Nordschleife (North Course)! The fast cars complete laps in the low eight-minute mark. Nine manufacturers are competing for overall honors, this includes Porsche, Audi, Aston Martin, Lexus, Nissan, McLaren, BMW, Mercedes SLS and Corvette. The fastest thirty cars will be fitted with a blue light inside the windshield to help make their competitors to move out of the way and let them pass. This year 177 entries have signed up for the race.
Two privately built Corvettes are entered. Callaway Competition in Leingarten, Germany builds both racers. One is entered in the slower SP8 category for Guttroff Racing and the other one is in fastest SP9 category for HARIBO Racing. HARIBO is a German candy company that is famous for their gummy bear products. This year they are celebrating the company’s 90th anniversary.
They have entered a gold GT3 Z06R #90 Callaway Corvette into the top category. The driver lineup is impressive: Richard Westbrook, Tommy Milner, Jan Magnussen (Corvette factory drivers) and Daniel Keilwitz (Winner of the 2010 FIA GT3 Drivers Championship) will pilot the HARIBO entry. Several weeks ago the thundering LS3 powered HARIBO Corvette lapped the 15.2-mile course in 8:16! The Corvette has a big hill to climb, but with top drivers, a top team and a championship winning Callaway Competition Corvette, the weekend looks promising.
Tommy Milner (USA) - "It's hard to put the Nordschleife into words. What is easy to say about it, is that it is by far the most challenging track in the world. Add 170+ cars and the weather conditions at the Eifel and you have possibly the toughest race in the world on four wheels. Every lap here is fun, but the clear laps without much traffic are what keeps you pushing. It's great fun."
"The team has been great so far. We had a long list of items after VLN3 that, as drivers, we would liked to have been addressed and so far they've all been checked off the list. With a brand new car, there is always expected to be some new car issues and we are looking forward to a trouble free few days coming up in the Corvette. The Corvette Z06R GT3 is a great car. It was fast in testing already and comfortable to drive, which is essential for 24 Hours anywhere, but especially at the most challenging track in the world, the Nordschleife."
"The aim is to win. It's that simple. We have a great team, a great car, and a great driver line up. I hope we can surprise some people with our race on Saturday and Sunday."
Daniel Keilwitz (GER) - "This weekend will be a huge spectacle, and I cannot wait, The aim will be to continue through Sunday and bring the car to the end of the race and over the finish line. We have a very good driver lineup, which brings the team a vast level of experience. I am looking forward to the 24 hour and with this Callaway Competition team and on with this particular car. The traffic on this 15.2 mile course is incredible. I very much have respect for the task at hand. In spite of being the youngest driver on this team at 22, I bring the most experience driving this Corvette in the northern loop: " I have competed in three 24-hour and 30 VLN races."
"We have a very good driver team, which will brings together a lot of talent for our Corvette. During the VLN test for this race, the Corvette looked very discreet in its white livery. Competitors were surprised when we qualified fifth fastest. Being up front will help us set the pace at the top of the field. We are happy to celebrate Haribo's 90th anniversary and we will carry the #90 proudly.
Jan Magnussen (DEN) - "What a place the Nurburgring is. I did a four-hour race with wo stints and only managed 11 laps! I can’t wait to get back out there to try it at night."
"It’s a brutal place, with traffic like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a very big challenge and safety-wise it’s a little bit…different! I kind of know my way around the track but I’m still trying to figure out where I should be on the track. Sometimes you shouldn’t be on the racing line because the car goes light, and when it lands you land on the racing line. Or if you’re off you land on the grass. Then you might be in trouble. From what I’ve been told there are a half-million people that come to this race. It should be fantastic!"
Corvette Motorsport will offer live coverage throughout the weekend, on our live Nürburgring 24 page that can be found HERE.