- BMW in provisional favourite role for the 24h after two NLS wins
- Last chance to prepare at the 24h Qualifiers (22/23 April)
- Tickets for the Qualifiers available from 23 euros here
Every year, it's like waiting for Christmas presents when teams,
teams, drivers, organisers and fans look forward to the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h
Nürburgring. At the big season highlight from 18 to 21 May, it is always proven anew who has brought together the best combination of racing equipment, drivers and team on the legendary Nordschleife. And fortunately, the waiting time - much like in Advent - is shortened in the most pleasant way: Two of three rounds of the Nürburgring Endurance Series before the 24h have already been completed, in which the GT3s from BMW and Porsche in particular made a strong impression.
One more NLS round and the final prologue as part of the ADAC Qualifiers 24h Nürburgring 2023 on 22-23 April remain for the protagonists to prepare perfectly. Around 30 starters recently competed in the top class, where the GT3s of the provisional favourites battle for supremacy with their rivals from Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Mercedes-AMG. Every kilometre on the race track is coveted in order to put together a successful package.
It's just as well that two races can be used for this purpose at the Qualifiers: A short two-hour heat on Saturday evening is followed by a race over the four-hour distance on Sunday. Together with the time in the qualifying sessions, this is a perfect last test before the season's highlight in the "Green Hell". If you want to experience the 24h Qualifiers live on site, you can get your tickets here (day tickets Saturday / Sunday 23 Euros each, weekend ticket 38 Euros). At www.24h-rennen.de you will also find all the other important facts and news.
The race win in the second NLS round of the year also went to a BMW. After Rowe Racing (NLS 1), this time it was Jakub Giermaziak (POL) and Jesse Krohn (FIN) who brought the M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport home ahead of Matteo Cairoli (ITA) and Julien Andlauer (FRA) in the second-placed Porsche 911 GT3 R from Rutronik Racing. Third place was also firmly in BMW hands as factory Juniors Daniel Harper (GBR), Max Hesse (Wernau) and Neil Verhagen (USA) claimed the remaining podium spot after the #3 Falken Porsche collected a drive-through penalty following an incident in lapped traffic. With two wins now, the BMW teams could therefore be the favourites for the time being, but race winner Giermaziak urges caution. "Our BMW M4 GT3 was clearly one of the fastest cars in the field today and we made no mistakes. But before the 24h race, it's also always the case that some teams don't want to reveal their performance. We, on the other hand, didn't hide, and already had that pace in the first NLS run - now we were able to translate it into the victory we were hoping for." After taking pole position at NLS1, Walkenhorst rewarded itself this time with victory against strong competition - the team's first ever NLS triumph with the BMW M4 GT3. Team-mate Jesse Krohn was also delighted after his successful first outing in the M4: "You couldn't wish for a better start to the preparation for the 24-hour race."
Every preparation chance must be used
Porsche also proved to be very competitive at the second NLS round, where Rutronik and Falken fought it out on equal terms with their 911 GT3 R in the leading group. The runners-up from Remchingen in Baden-Württemberg also underlined their strong form with the pole position. "We worked consistently and fine-tuned the set-up," described Cairoli. "Especially in qualifying in the morning, I felt very comfortable - the 911 GT3 R was almost perfect and I was able to finish on the podium." His team-mate Andlauer was also very satisfied after the race. "We did a great job over the two days and everyone worked hard to get the car perfect. We're still missing a little something to be completely at the music, but in the difficult conditions we were able to stay out of any trouble and finish on the podium with a good strategy." So there is little doubt that Porsche will also be fully competitive at the 24h at the latest: The strong performance at the second NLS round and three remaining preparation races (NLS3 as well as the two rounds at the 24h Qualifiers) still give the teams the opportunity to get their beefy race cars into shape down to the last detail.
The chasers have also long been on a par with us
It is also clear that these opportunities should not be missed! Because not only BWM and Porsche definitely have competitive equipment this year: Audi and Mercedes-AMG have also long since shown what their GT3s of the 2023 season are capable of. In NLS2 qualifying, the two GetSpeed-Mercedes AMG GT3s captured places on the second and third rows of the grid, while Audi brought two R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs home in top-10 positions - both brands also made it onto the podium at the NLS season opener. And with the changeable weather typical of the Nordschleife, a race day can end without a countable result, even with the most meticulous preparation. Ernst Moser, team principal of the best-placed Audi team Scherer PHX, was nevertheless able to take something positive from the event. "There are days like this in motorsport. We put in a lot of effort, which unfortunately wasn't reflected in the result in the end. We still learned a lot, especially about tyre handling in mixed conditions. The drivers also gained a lot of track time, which is worth its weight in gold with regard to the 24h race." His driver, Frédéric Vervisch (BEL), sees it similarly. The previous year's 24h winner shared the best-placed Audi with Mattia Drudi (ITA) and Dennis Lind (DEN) and was particularly pleased with "a trouble-free race that was a lot of fun. It was the first time I've been back to the Nordschleife since my victory in 2022 - great to be back."
Endurance feeling at the 24h Qualifiers
Even if the individual GT3 top models of the 2023 vintage are largely competitive, every testing opportunity is highly welcome for the individual teams. After all, in the end there will probably be between 20 and 30 cars capable of winning at the Nordschleife classic. Even the smallest advantage can be decisive. That's why practically all the top teams are likely to use the two remaining preparation weekends. After the third NLS round in mid-April, the main focus will be on the ADAC 24h Nürburgring Qualifiers on the fourth weekend in April. The compact two-day programme offers a lot of driving time on the Nordschleife, including six hours of racing alone. On Saturday, after two and a half hours of intensive practice on the Grand Prix circuit and the entire circuit, a two-hour race will start in the evening. When the race is waved off at 9.30 p.m., the headlights will already be flashing - the aim is to deliberately prepare the evening and night procedures as well. On Sunday, there will be another qualifying session as well as the individual time trials of the top teams for pole position. From 1 p.m. on, it's another four hours of seconds, positions and, of course, data. Because when race director Walter Hornung waves the black and white chequered flag at 5 p.m., the wheels won't start rolling again until the season's highlight a month later. So if you don't have your set-up together by then, you will be behind from the start at the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring.