Nurburgring 24 hours 2014
Hello Race fans,
The 2014 edition of the 24 hours of Nurburgring is done and dusted. The positive is we made it to the end eventhough we had some very close calls. A top ten finish was possible however we ended up 11th in class and 47th overall.
Weather was dry and actually ideal for once in contrast with last years torrential rains and fog. 110 out of 175 competitors finished indicating once again how tough this event is and why it's called the Green hell.
During practice we struggled to get the proper set up. Front suspension was very restless on rebound which is no fun when you are pushing the limit. After the team ran out of ideas I sought the services of the Bilstein rep and finally for our last and untimed warm up session we got the car working as it should. We started 17th in a class of 22 cars and 60th overall.
For the race I had two other very capable and experienced co drivers, Dario Paletto and Roberto Fechio as our nr. 4 driver bailed out in the last minute. We had our work cut out for us as with 3 drivers drivers we extended our driving time from 6 hours to 8 hours with fewer periods of rest between stints. the positive though was we could theoretically anyway keep a faster pace with fewer driver changes!! With that in mind we decided we would each try to do double stints during the night to give everyone more rest time! Two of us managed however the third driver did not so we had to revert back to single stints. I was once again very comfortable at night and ended up driving a total of 9 hours, getting more than my share of stick time. That's the way I like it!!
During my last shift late morning I worked my way up to 8th in class and 33rd overall. With one lap to go before a driver change car developed a vibration in the left front. Initially I suspected a slow puncture or a loose steering tie rod however grip and steering was still good. I nevertheless reduced my speed as a precaution and on a fast downhill portion while braking into a left hander my senses went into overload as my front left wheel separated from the hub (structural failure!) and passed me going into the turn!! I managed to keep car on track and limped back to the pits on three wheels damaging the hub and front suspension in the process. Team subsequently put in a stellar performance to repair front end in just under 10 minutes and we were back in the running. Unfortunately we fell back to 11th in class which was where we finally finished the race. It should be added that as soon as I saw what happened I had team check other sets of wheels while I was limping back to the pits. It turns out several other rims were showing signs of fatigue with stress cracks all over. They brought our sister car in for a tire change in order to avoid another disaster.
Once again a race like no other! Silver lining in it all is I once again managed to go the full distance without damaging the car keeping my driving record spotless. Something needless to say I am extremely proud of!!
Nurburgring 24 hours 2013
24 Hours of Nurburgring 2013
3rd place SP6 class
The 41st running of this years 24 H of Nurburgring has just taken place. Kurt's objective was to repeat last years result with a class win. Kurt chose to drive for the same team as last year (you don't change a wining team do you!?!) but in the more powerful SP6 class with a 430 HP M3 prepared by Team Christian Leutheuser.
The driver line up was one of the best ever. Michael hess, 25 starts at the Eifel classic, Hubert Nacken, 21 starts and Torsten Krey 8 starts. All with an excellent track record of bringing the car across the finish line in one piece. Race weekend started out very well under mostly dry conditions, qualifying 3rd in class with a lap time of 9'35" to cover the 26 kms. Interestingly I was somewhat off the pace this year (9'50"!) struggling with the moist conditions during my qualifying session. As I rarely compete in more than 3 events a year I have had precious little time in the 'wet'!!"
For race day Torsten managed a clean start at the drop of the flag holding our starting position for his first stint under dry conditions. Around 9:00 PM it was my turn for stint nr. 3. As bad luck would have it rain followed soon thereafter just as forecast. First a light drizzle which quickly developed into heavy rain. Visibility was severely impaired as our windshield kept fogging up even with rain guard and the blower on full. Water leaking into the cockpit contributed to further deterioration in visibility. "To aim for an apex you need to see it. In our case we had to guess and aim as we had no visibility. Might as well have had our eyes closed. As anyone who has ever driven on the Nordschleife knows driving over the curbs is a big no no as they throw you off the track!! That having been said I handed over the car in 2nd position. Hubert had a great drive and then towards the end of his stint just as he moved into 1st in class track conditions deteriorated further with torrential rains and fog forcing the organizers to red flag the race around mid night!!! For the next 7 hours everyone watched as conditions deteriorated further; thunderstorms, flooding and torrential rains continued unabated as though there was no tomorrow.
Finally around 8:00 AM the race could be restarted even though conditions were still very precarious. We had by then been able to recharge our batteries and were fit for fighting. Short spells of dry track conditions now succeeded rain; one end of the track could be dry while the other still in heavy rain showers!! "Rain tires were not always appropriate forcing us to use profiled slicks, good in very light drizzle but downright dangerous in heavy rain. I had a particularly difficult stint around 1:00 PM with torrential rains at one end of the track and semi dry at the other. It was like driving on marbles at times with no grip at all.
I handed over our car in first place with three hours to go! Everyone was feeling pretty good with themselves. So far we had managed to stay out of harms way (several close calls though!), the car was running flawlessly and our most experienced driver (Michael) was now at the wheel. Although he had done a stellar job earlier in the evening in very wet conditions he ended up kissing the guard rail at 'hohe Acht', the highest point of the track. While damage was minimal ( bent tie rod and front spoiler ripped off) he lost valuable time limping back to the pits for repairs.
Knife between his teeth and totally focused on making up for lost time he set off on a wild goose chase after the repair, managing to reclaim 3rd in class by the time he handed over to Torsten for the last leg. And so it was that we managed a 3rd place podium finish, bitter sweet result knowing that we had 1st place in the bag with only a few hours to go!!!
The popular saying 'to finish first you first have to finish' was a stark reminder of how quickly events can turn on you. I believe I speak for my co-drivers that we all had a great time keeping our M3 on the track and bringing it yet again across the finish line. Personally I will say this race was right up there in terms of difficulty requiring total and utter concentration to the task from start to finish!!!
Nurburgring 24 hours 2012
24 hours of Nurburgring 2012 1st Place SP5 class Lingmann Motorsports
The 40th running of the 2012 24 Hours of Nurburgring has just come to a close. Car nr. 106 driven by Kurt Thiel, Pierre De Thoisy, Hubert Nacken and Thierry Depoix, managed a class win with their 400 HP BMW Holinger M1 coupe covering a total of 3300 kms!! For Kurt this was his 2nd class win in a 24 hour event at the Nurburgring!
Quite a performance and a very special win as from the start it looked like it was all going pear shaped!! Having qualified their entry in 9th place out of a field of 16 entries and a field of of 170 race teams without any major problems Team Lingmann approached this grueling event with the usual calm and professionalism they have been come to be known for. 'We could not have suspected that after an uneventful start to the race in ideal racing conditions that our race was almost already over before it had really started!!' Unusually high oil consumption was diagnosed back to a cracked engine block. At the time everyone thought that the car being a prototype had at this stage insufficient development however we learned after the race that the engine builder had ' forgotten' to balance the crankshaft creating huge vibrations!!
Back to the race....the Team debated back and forth and decided to give the only option a go, see how many laps one could go before having to top up on engine oil. It turned out that we could go 5 laps instead of the usual 10 laps before pitting to add 3 liters of engine oil. This was promising to be a real challenge as oil leaking out the back under the car with fumes filling the cockpit at every deceleration meant we needed to carefully monitor any deterioration and lack of traction.
Long story short we went the full distance!!! Knife between our teeth, fighting off nr 2 and nr. 3 competitor as we had twice as many pit stops as the others. We all managed to stay out of trouble through some of the hairier moments, even losing our 1st position in the early hours of the morning only to regain a few stints later. After and epic run we held on to our slim lead to the very end.
There is no better feeling than crossing the finish line 24 hours later in first place and with an ailing car. 43 liters of oil were needed to get us across the finish line!!