31st ADAC Nurburgring 24 Hours – Second Sunday Report
Midday – Three Hours Left

This race is far from over. The DTM silhouette racers are still dicing for the lead. They are still not slowing down. And still cutting through traffic with reckless abandon. Karl Wendlinger is happy with the #8 Audi TT-R: "Car's fine, everything running perfectly." They have nevertheless gone a lap down now after a delay in the pits. Seven minutes to make up over the next five hours. Even with the finish still a long way away, what the Phoenix and Abt teams have achieved so far deserves the highest respect; not many observers thought the DTM cars would last. Reports are that in order to avoid a repeat of the Bleekemolen scenaro, Volker Strycek is now simultaneously driving every Opel out there.

The fog has cleared just about everywhere around the track, to be replaced by the fragrant haze from the many barbecues around the circuit. The obligatory Bratwurst is popular with racefans everywhere.

The Nissan Skyline, up to third at one time, seems to have hit severe trouble: the car is in intensive care in the paddock right now, with a rumoured turbo failure - this after an engine change earlier in the morning. The podium out of reach now, they will try and make it to the finish in the Skyline's swansong. It's been one of those races again for the Japanese wondercar; Falken team manager Robert Brungs remarked via the public announcement system that "we have had all sorts of sh1t happen to us during the night." The fully synchronised gearbox had to withstand enourmous abuse after an early clutch failure; then the engine let go; as a result of that, Roland Asch had to put out a fire in the car; they changed the engine and traced an electrical problem on the side (and may have fixed that clutch, too!). The Falken tent was off limits to non-Japanese personnel at one time. "We worked like dogs," but now they are on the move again, and with gusto. Out of the top 50, their motto is still "we will never ever EVER give up!"

We haven't mentioned the privately prepared BMW M3 V8 of Johannes Scheid for a while; the blue "Eifelblitz" has been all over the timing screens but is still with us, in seventh place, and on the same lap as the #42 works GTR.

Bad luck for the #33 Honda NSX-R: the car just about made it back to the pits on three wheels, with the right front corner badly bent. Again, it looks like it has been punted out of the way by a faster car. Yet more accident-related damage.

The Brunswick Alfa 156 has made it onto the timing screens - just outside the top 100, and reliably motoring along. Mr. G is his usual relaxed, confident self.......(below). And perhaps fairly knackered.

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With so much still going on all around this "long and winding road", it is sometimes difficult to keep up with developments. when you are at the Ring for a race, bring an FM radio, and set the dial to 87.7 - for a decade now, the Nürburgring GmbH has cooperated with local radio station RPR, and reached out to racefans in the furthest corner of the Nordschleife with Radio Nürburgring. So how does this compare with another quite popular "racing radio" effort, masterminded by a certain British war correspondent? First of all, this is in fact an official cooperation between the track and the radio operators. Station manager Dirk Köster explains that "we provide Radio Nürburgring for the ten biggest events on the Ring, such as the F1 Grand Prix of Europe, the Truck Grand Prix, and of course the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife. We don't have commentators of our own, we simply provide the "radio framework" for the track commentators, with music and newscasts every hour. The commentators have priority; they can go on air whenever they want to. The Ring gets a professional broadcast, we get the exposure; that's how the deal works."

The "real" radio crew is on permanent standby to bridge the (few) gaps that happen whenever one of the half dozen race commentators on duty for the 24 Hours runs out of breath. There are two permanent studios on the premises; these coordinate the radio broadcast, track commentary, and third sources, such as pit reporters, and in-car commentators (not this year unfortunately, for technical reasons). The Ring has its own FM frequency for such weekends, but parts of the 24 Hours service are also broadcast on the RPR main frequency which can be heard throughout the State of Rheinland-Pfalz. For other events throughout the year, such as the German Championship rounds, RPR is contracted by the ADAC to provide a similar service just on the track frequency.

Is there also some kind of interaction with the fans along the track, such as "field reports" from the campsites? "We tried that a few years ago but the amount of spoken content has constantly risen over the years; in between the commentating, and our own content such as news, weather, etc., we don't want to bore the fans with yet more spoken words."

Three hours to go, and Audi #8 is in trouble. We will see what transpires.
Cy Bersdorf

 

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