LMES - Nurburgring 1000 Kms - Setting The Nurburgring Scene
© Johannes Gauglica
Ideally we would have posted this item late on Thursday...
but here it is, mid-morning Friday.
After much reminiscing about the past of the Nürburgring 1000
Kilometers, the revived 2004 edition, round 2 of the inaugural Le
Mans Endurance Series is now underway – and the weather isn’t
When the first
dailysportscar reconnaissance party arrived on
the scene on Thursday afternoon, just about all of the main protagonists
were in situ, and setting up camp in the Nürburgring paddock.
While the racecars were being put through the process of scrutineering
during the afternoon, the teams themselves seemed to be giving even
more attention to their trucks in the paddock. Does the ACO condct
sanitation inspections as well, or is there an additional point
up for grabs for "Best Presented Team Truck"? Now, we
all know that the chance of rain increases exponentially the moment
we even think about washing our cars. Indeed, the outlook for the
weekend is one of gloom and precipitation, and storm clouds were
brewing over the Nürburgring, temperatures way too low for
early July. Two very clean cars were presented by Veloqx Audi UK,
both its R8s in pristine livery, not a trace of the Le Mans battlescars
to be seen. Perhaps the ACO objected to Sam Li's idea?
about preserving the muck and grime of half a day on the German
autobahn for posterity, on a team truck?
Two teams that
are not rated among the immediate favourites for success in their
respective classes are Renauer (with an ex-FIASCC Tampolli-Alfa
in LMP2), and A-Level Engineering (with an all-new Porsche 996 turbo
in GTS). While Renauer should be a familiar name to those who have
in the past followed the FIA Sports Car Championship, A-Level is
a new team. Drivers Manfred Jurasz (Renauer) and Wolfgang Kaufmann
(A-Level) are in confident mood, as they explained over a cup of
coffee in the Renauer garage.
to just keep going, make it to the finish, then we should have a
good result,“ says Manfred Jurasz, "of the eight cars
in our class, the Belmondo Courage is the hands-down favourite for
the win, this car is uncatchable for the rest of us."
is very happy about his cooperation with A-Level Engineering. "The
driving force behind the team is a Russian design bureau, and they
are using this project to show what they can do. I am very impressed
with their commitment to perfection. They do nothing half-heartedly.
They have designed and built all their equipment themselves, and
to a very high standard. I have been involved with the project from
the start, have driven the car for its first tests, and will drive
it in the remaining LMES rounds. Also, with Eric van de Poele I
have a team mate who is very experienced, fast, and consistant,
and has a no-nonsense personality which is good for a young team.
I am happy with this constellation: just two drivers, but both of
them 100% committed to the success of the project. Now, if only
we had more boost: right now... we are limited to 0.8bar."
had a tale to tell about the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where he
drove two cars. Unfortunately, the combined drive time of both cars
did not even add up to 12 hours. The Chrysler Crossfire suffered
a problem that in today's racing world seems strangely archaic:
a supercharger failure. "This was a brand new 'Kompressor',
and from the outside everything seemed fine; but on the inside,
the shaft that actually drives the supercharger had simply snapped,
and while it seemed to be turning merrily, it was actually standing
still, and doing nothing." Both the Chrysler and Kaufmann's
other car, the Grohs Porsche 996, succumbed to accident damage.
"I returned to the track at 3.30 a.m. to see what was going
on, and there was nothing going on anymore."
and Jurasz have a wealth of experience on the international endurance
racing stage: what is their opinion of the LMES as it presents itself
now, and what do they think about its chances of success? "I
think the concept is very promising,“ says Kaufmann, but adds
that more emphasis should be put on "the show - there are not
enough attractive support races. The FIA GT series has a stronger
package, with the touring cars. Perhaps the 1000k race itself should
be held in two heats, to create more excitement and closer racing.
I would like to see a combined weekend where the GTs, tourers, and
the 1000k race come together."
like to see more media coverage, and some improvements to the existing
coverage especially on television. "The smaller classes aren't
getting enough exposure; all you ever see is the first four or five
cars. This is perfectly fine when they are dicing for the lead;
but generally, every team should be able to guarantee a potential
sponsor a certain amount of time on camera." Manfred Jurasz
is happy to accept that he is a 'gentleman driver' - "I am
in it for the love of driving fast" - and points out that without
this media exposure, it is getting increasingly difficult to justify,
and account for, the sponsorship money that is needed to buy into
a team these days.
in the FIA GT Championship are now out of reach for a privateer
like me. And I'd rather not tell my wife what I have paid for this
drive here. A prototype is obviously more exciting to drive"
- a sentiment Wolfgang Kaufmann agrees with - "but they are
also more expensive in every respect."
Toward the end
of the season, a return to Mount Panorama is a possibility for Manfred
Jurasz: "We could have won it in 2002, had it not been for
the accident (Alan Grice crashed the Porsche late in the race);
it was probably the last time a Cup Porsche had a serious chance
of winning Bathurst."
Back to now,
and this is the Belgian G Force Pilbeam, the former Cirtek / Roy
Baker / Jota car, chassis 001, and the WR, which didn't set a time
on Friday morning.