Nordschleife season opener whets appetite for the 24h


The opening race of the motorsport season on the Nordschleife is heating up the anticipation for the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring: With more than two dozen GT3 race cars from seven manufacturers, the top of the field at the first race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) presented a colourful picture. In the end, Rowe Racing (BMW M4 GT3), Scherer Sport PHX (Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo II) and Schnitzelalm Racing (Mercedes-AMG GT3) shared the podium - all of them teams that already gathered plenty of kilometres (and thus experience) with their competitive machines on the world's longest and most demanding race track last year. Right up to the last lap, the two front-runners engaged in a battle with open sights, which the victorious BMW finally won by 6.4 seconds. And the battle of equals is likely to become even closer in the next races, when the teams that are still lagging behind pack their Porsche, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Aston Martin into optimised setups with the freshly gathered information. Their common goal: At the 24h Nürburgring (18 - 21 May) they want to join the fight for the top. Those who want to experience the ultra-exciting fight on the Nordschleife live will find all relevant information on advance ticket sales under the heading "Experience on site".

Round one in the battle for supremacy on the Nordschleife goes to the top dogs this year: Rowe Racing landed victory with Maxime Martin and Dries Vanthoor, who joined the team in 2023. "A dream result," Maxime Marin enthused afterwards, and team-mate Dries Vanthoor added: "Everything was new here for Maxime and me, but the car is super on the Nordschleife. I'm looking forward to seeing how it performs at the 24h Nürburgring." Team boss Hans-Peter Naundorf put the brakes on too high expectations despite all the jubilation about the victory: "It was closer than it looked," he admitted. "There were a lot of accidents and code 60 phases on the track, which made it exhausting and demanding". Typical Nordschleife - and the air at the top is likely to get even thinner. Kim-Luis Schramm, who shared the Audi R8 of the second-placed team Scherer Sport PHX with Ricardo Feller, remains ambitious: "A place further ahead would have been even better, of course, but with second place it was a great start for us." Feller also adds with a view to the sister car: "The cars ran absolutely smoothly. We showed the competition that they have to reckon with us again." Her team, which emerged from the merger of the 24h record winners Phoenix Racing with the Scherer team, represents the ranks of long-established teams, as does Rowe (24h winner in 2020). There is much to suggest that they will not be able to settle the victory among themselves this year.

Newcomers and teams with new models in the hunt
There are the newcomers, such as the Schnitzelalm team, which came third in the season opener. Driver Marek Böckmann was able to grin in view of the result: "Nobody can complain about that. The podium finish is the reward for weeks of intensive preparation and our winter tests in Portugal and Spain. That's the beauty of competing as an underdog team: nobody has you on their radar - and then suddenly you're there." Team-mate Marcel Marchewicz is convinced: "Even though it's not easy, I believe in our chance to cause a stir at the 24h even as a small team." Those who still have to put the finishing touches to their brand new cars are also very ambitious. These include the Porsche teams, which are using the latest evolutionary stage of the legendary 911 GT3 R. As the best representatives, Manthey EMA landed in seventh place at NLS1. This is certainly not the last word for the extremely successful traditional team. Manthey Managing Director Nicolaus Raeder sums up the Nordschleife season opener accordingly: "We still have to work on the performance of the new car to be able to compete at the front. We have collected a lot of important information and values. Our main task now is to work on the car's performance so that we have the package together for victory at the 24h in May." By then, the spectacular new Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Ferrari 296 GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3, which also started their 24h preparation programme at the first NLS round, will almost certainly be a lot stronger.

Intensive and short preparation phase for the 24h.
Until the Nordschleife classic in May, it's now blow by blow for the teams: Two more races (on 1 and 15 April) are available in the NLS before the final intensive test: the ADAC 24h Nürburgring Qualifiers (22-23 April) offer two races with a combined six hours of driving time, plenty of practice sessions and a top qualifying session - the perfect simulation opportunity for the season highlight one month later. For all the teams who want to shine there, this means the start of extremely busy weeks. So the fans can look forward to an exciting time.