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24 facts about the Nürburgring 24-hour
June 24, 2014 by
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This year, the 42nd running of the event saw a record race distance completed. The first- and second-placed cars completed 159 laps of the 25.378km circuit, which is a combination of the 20.8km Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuits.
In another record, the number three Dorr Motorsport McLaren MP4-12C GT3 set a new qualifying record of 8:10.921.
Eight Australians were entered, including Mal Rose and Peter Leemhuis who shared the number 70 Aston Martin Vantage V8 with brand CEO Dr Ulrich Bez.
Dr Bez wasn't the only automotive CEO in the field, with Toyota's CEO and Chairman (and grandson of the company's founder), Akio Toyoda, behind the wheel of the number 48 Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA. Akio-san races under the name Morizo but, for the first time, his race suit was embroided with A. Toyoda. Morizo and his all-Japanese team finished 13th outright and first in the SP8 class.
178 cars started the 2014 N24 in groups of roughly 60 cars at two-minute intervals. The leading GT3 cars had one lap clear of traffic, as they started their second lap just 46 seconds after the last of the third group of starters completed their first.
A single Ferrari 458 contested the event (DNF), but the field included six SLS Mercs, eight Audi R8 Ultras, two Lexus LFAs and 37 Porsches.
The entry list always includes oddballs and this year saw a Corolla sedan battle with an Opel Manta GT and MKIII Golf GTI for wackiest racer of the event.
Each garage is shared by six cars from various teams and wildly varying levels of professionalism. The outright GT3 cars share with run-what-you-brung back markers.
The team names are awesome - Black Falcon, Roadrunner Racing and Bonk Motorsport are among the best.
Our favourite sponsor of the event was the SP9 Porsche 911 of Haribo Racing - makers of Gummi Bears. It was running eighth until a crash in the closing hours put it out.
250,000 spectators attended the event, and much of the circuit can be accessed without buying a ticket. The crowd is so wild (huge fires, mechanical drinking machines, fireworks and flares) it makes the top of Mount Panorama look like a church picnic. Unlike Bathurst, however, there's no obvious rivalry between fans of certain manufacturers and, therefore, no threatening vibe. Massive audio systems blast for the whole weekend with German techno, death metal and power ballads competing for musical superiority. We even heard Midnight Oil and AC/DC.
Because there's no menace in the crowd, the police presence is minimal. Officials are helpful and no one is out to spoil the party. For a country that's meant to be about strict adherence to the rules, the Germans could teach us 'laid back' Australians a thing or two about relaxing.
The car park might not be as upmarket as that at Le Mans, but there is plenty of tasty metal to perv on. And unlike Le Mans, most are hard-driven, track warriors. We even spotted a Honda S2000 wearing slicks.
Because the Nürburgring is in the middle of nowhere, you'll almost certainly have to drive on an unlimited autobahn to get there. Hire a decent car (most hire companies offer Porsche 911s), and disprove the argument that there's no such thing as safe speeding. Watch your mirrors, observe good lane discipline and don't tailgate (the Germans are rightly big on this and have cameras to catch tailgaters on the autobahn).
The N24 lets you get closer to the action than any other race I've been too. Head to the pits and, with the right pass or a bit of sweet talking, you'll find yourself standing on the live pit lane as cars thunder in an out of the chaos.
The closing speeds between the SP9 GT3 monsters and the slowest cars in the field are scary. Strobing lights signify a top-30 car (SP9, SP9 Pro and SP8), and they constantly flash their headlights at slower traffic. Incredible to watch at night at the scary fast Adenau section.
See as much of the track as possible. Get to the Flugplatz for the top 30 qualifying session on Friday afternoon and watch these thundering racers get 60cm of air at the 'Flying Place'.
The race is so tough, this year, one of the Audi safety cars went home on a flat bed. Speaking of safety cars, the adherence to waved yellows appears optional and the sole Dodge Viper in the field arrived behind a safety car at full noise, swerved just in time and cleaned up a Mini that was actually observing the caution. Crazy.
Visit the service station on the way into the circuit. It's got an amazing model car shop (where we bought a Haribo 911), and the servo itself sells everything from T-shirts to race boots and helmets. The time before this visit, an Enzo, 959 and Gallardo were all filling up outside.
Keep your eyes open for some automotive celebrity spotting. This year we saw Hans-Joachim Stuck, Sabine Schmitz and Kazunori Yamauchi wandering pit lane.
Also look out for your favourite automotive journalist; Chris Harris, Richard Meaden and Jethro Bovindon all raced this year.
Make sure you catch the support races on Friday and Saturday morning where you'll see classic 911s battle Mustangs, BMW M1s and BMW 2002s.
When in Rome (or Nürburg, at least), stay for a few extra days and drive the Nordschleife on a tourist day.
This year's race was won by the number four Phoenix Racing Audi R8 Ultra of Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, René Rast and Markus Winkelhock.