In typical Nürburgring fashion, heavy rain and fog arrived for the first Qualifying session of the event. Though, the #69 Dörr Motorsport McLaren of Rudi Adams, Sebastian Asch, Alvaro Parente and Arno Klasen surprisingly claimed the top spot. Adams’ lap of 8:18.513 at the start of the session was enough to keep them on top until the end.
Peter Kox in Dörr’s #66 car is very optimistic about the McLaren this year, even after the troubled past which the MP4-12c has at the event:
“The McLaren, especially our sister car, seems to have really good pace. We have two different setups on the cars, ours is still lacking but we are still chipping away at it, it’s been very encouraging.
“I think McLaren’s GT division have taken a much more active role this time. You have seen that leading up to this race, the car is far more competitive. But then again this race is crazy, anything can happen, even though the cars are so well prepared. Both cars are in the top 30 for the shootout tomorrow, which was one of our aims, so we will go from there.”
It wasn’t all plain sailing for the German VLN regulars however, as the #69 sustained some front end damage after hitting a fox out on the Nordschleife.
The rain came after about an hour and three quarters of on-track action, and quickly slowed the runners down, bringing many into the garages for extended periods of time to preserve the cars at such an early stage.
This meant that the two BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS cars didn’t didn’t feature up front like they did in the first session – the #25 10th and the #26 14th. But this hasn’t effected the Belgian squad’s morale. They know the circuit well now, after doing four VLN rounds this year and it’s provided them with good setups for their two Z4s in all conditions.
“We are definitely confident yes, the car is great,” Maxime Martin, driving the #25 this weekend, told DSC. “We have a really good line-up too, so everything is there to make sure we have a good race. But it’s 24 hours, you’re never sure of anything, it’s a challenge here just to stay on the track.”
Down in the Aston Martin Racing pits there was also a cause for concern as the rain started to come down. The #100 Aston Martin Test Centre entered V8 Vantage of Chris Harris, Richard Meaden, Oliver Mathai and Andreas Gülden had electrical issues which limited their track time.
The #007 GT3 Aston Martin Vantage in the SP9 class also had it’s issues. A power steering problem earlier in the session kept it in the garage for the first two hours. And even when it did come out, Stefan Mücke had to stop the car on track on his outlap, as the problem persisted. Thankfully towards the end of the session the AMR boys got the car back out again for some much needed laps in the rain on the still unfamiliar Michelin tyres.
Phoenix were once again quick in their R8’s, the #4 once again the better of the two. A 8:21.454 was good enough to put the perennial N24 contenders second.
BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert also featured more in this session, with their #20 Z4 coming home fourth and the #19 11th. DSC had a quick check-in in their garage, and spoke to Lucas Luhr, who is cautiously optimistic ahead of the race:
“We are not expecting much from qualifying,” Luhr admitted. “But it isn’t important for us as a team, as long as we have a good car for the race we will be happy. The car is fast, even in changeable conditions like this… It’s safe to say we are more than ready for wet and dry running.”
Most cars understandably didn’t do complete too many laps as the conditions worsened; it’s not worth the risk before the race. Though, inevitably, there were some victims of the tricky conditions:
Mazda Motorsports Team Jota’s #195, like a few runners in the Practice session earlier, went off at the first hairpin with Teruaki Kato, damaging the front significantly. The #24 Schulze Motorsport Nissan GT-R also had a nasty off – the car was spotted on a flatbed without a front-right wheel, with severe damage.
Best of the non-SP9 runners this time was the immaculately turned out SP8 #48 Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA, coming home 21st with a time of 8:35.745. The fan favourite, even in it’s new spec for this year, still looks and sounds mega.