31st ADAC Nurburgring 24 Hours – Second Saturday Report
Schnitzer & Manthey Blues
At the end of hour 1,
things have settled down a little as they usually do at such races.
In the Schnitzer pits, a Code Red emergency was declared, and all
hands rallied to get the #42 car back out on the track after its
second stop. A defective seal seems to have been the aftermath of
the hurried gearbox change; now the car is out there again, and
on the pace but way down the order. So do you think you can still
win this, Hans-Joachim Stuck? "No, we'll try and finish this
race no matter what. We have never had this problem before, this
is a mystery."
The #43 M3 GTR eventually
made it back to the pits as well, and was patched up in the same
way as its sister car. This car, though, seems to have expired for
good now. In the mean time, the Alzen Porsche and Zakspeed Viper
made the pace until both turbocharged 996s made early stops on lap
seven. The cars with 120l of fuel stopped earlier than the Viper
on its 90l "diet". Were they playing it safe, or is this
an indication that these turbo engines have a serious drinking habit?
Certainly, Uwe Alzen did not pay much attention to fuel economy.
A lap later, the Viper made its stop. It seems to have settled into
its rythm for the race now. The Manthey 996 made its return to pit
lane on the tow hook of a rescue car, possibly with fuel pick-up
problems. It is now out again, but has lost some terrain, and is
now in seventh position, a lap down. Right in front of them, in
sixth, is the Alzen Porsche that was so dominant for the first hour;
possibly they have decided they can't keep up this kind of blistering
pace (I know this is cliché but it was! - you should have
seen it set the track alight; it truly is breathtaking to watch)
with a car that is brand new, and unproven. (We have already seen
what can happen to unproven cars.)
As the Viper made its
stop, the Opels went into the lead, only to make their stop on the
next lap, and in turn lose their lead to the Abt Audis. The Abt
team has opted for better fuel economy at the expense of power;
they can stay out longer than the other DTM cars. The #8 TT-R of
Wendlinger / Abt / Nissen / Werner was in the lead for a long time
until the Reuter / Scheider / Tiemann / Strycek #5 Opel managed
to get that lead back, you really get a feeling that Opel wants
to win this. A joke that is making the rounds here is that Opel
Motorsports supremo Volker Strycek, who loves this track, is now
actually driving both Astras. The #7 Audi of Biela & Co. once
again visited the pits, to have its power steering system attended
to. They are now in eighth, and two laps back.
Quietly making progress
are the Raeder 996 of Britons Bennett and Price (fifth), and the
Falken Nissan (seventh). the Willie Moore BMW is in 17th place,
Lockie / Cowgill / Euser with their BMW are one place behind.
Disaster was narrowly
avoided as a Manthey Porsche - not sure which one - tangled with
a slower car on the Döttinger Höhe straight, at top speed.
Both cars careered into the guard rail, the Porsche almost rolled,
then went flying back onto the track, in the middle of a whole bunch
of cars all of which miraculously missed the errant 996. Confirmation:
it was the turbocharged car of Luhr / Collard / Bernhard. There
is currently no information as to whether it is out altogether,
or still trying to reach the pits.
And another Porsche crash,
this time the other Manthey Porsche. It too has tangled with a backmarker;
it is able to continue. And another crash, at the Tiergarten (the
end of the Döttinger Höhe straight); a BMW spinning in
front of oncoming traffic. Fast vs. slow is fast becoming a very
important topic right now.
As the Alzen Porsche
has come into the pits with gearbox trouble (paying the price for
their early fireworks?), and Audi #7 is in the pits yet again, we'll
sign off for now. We will see what the evening holds in store.