A provisional entry list for the Nürburgring 24 hours has been issued, containing 158 entries for the classic race through the Eifel mountains. Special safety regulations have been implemented following the tragic accident in the VLN race in March in which a spectator was killed, but the essential character, drama and importance of the race is undimmed. No less than 31 cars are entered in the headline SP9 (GT3) class from which the overall winner traditionally comes; comprised of eight Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, seven Audi R8 LMS, six BMW Z4 GT, three Bentley Continental, three Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, two Aston Martin Vantage and two Nissan GT-R Nismo.
Likely front-runners could also come from the SP-X class, in the shape of the two Glickenhaus SCG 003c entries, and SP-Pro features three entries: two Porsche 911s (one from Manthey, the other from Kremer Racing) and the Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA Code X.
In short, the race will be as competitive as ever, and picking a winner is as difficult as ever. Last year’s winning drivers, Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, René Rast and Markus Winkelhock are teamed up again in the no. 1 Phoenix Audi, but will not have things all their own way by any means – in the Qualification Race earlier this month, the top Audi was only eighth, following three Porsches and four BMWs home though the new WRT Audi took top honours over the weekend at VLN2.
Mercedes, with two entries each from the Black Falcon team and from Rowe Racing, and one each from Haribo Racing, Zakspeed, Car Collection and Team Premio (featuring Rob Huff on the squad) have a numerical advantage, and with Yelmer Buurman, Andreas Simonsen, Adam Christodoulou and Bernd Schneider on the driving strength of the no. 2 Black Falcon entry a repeat of that team’s 2013 win is a strong possibility.
BMW is always strong at the Nürburgring, and with a win in the qualification race the Schubert team will have high hopes. A 24 hour win at the Nürburgring for the ever-popular Claudia Hürtgen would provide some welcome good news after the tragic events of March.
What about the Brits? A British car has never won the 24 hours at the Nürburgring (sadly the Lotus 7 was too fast to race), could 2015 be the year? Certainly, both Aston Martin and Bentley have cars with the speed and talent to make it so. Aston’s lead car once again has a three-driver line-up in the no. 7 car: Stefan Mücke, Darren Turner and Pedro Lamy on duty, with Jonny Adam, Richie Stanaway and Matthias Lauda providing back-up in the no. 6.
Bentley’s best hopes lie probably with the no. 11 car, crewed by Guy Smith, Steven Kane and Andy Meyrick – one has to wonder though whether the big Continental GT is quite the car to negotiate the traffic of the ‘Green Hell’, even though it will undoubtedly be quick.
The remainder of the entry is as usual an eclectic mix of Porsche Cup cars, GT4 entries (called SP10 by the ADAC), and in fewer numbers than in previous years, plus hordes of BMWs, Opels, Audi TTs, Renault Clios and Ford Focus. Other crowd favourites are there too: Toyota GT86, Volvo V40, a pair of Thai-entered Toyota Corolla Altis, as well as entries from Hyundai and Subaru. Surely as diverse an entry as anyone could wish for.
And of course, there’s Volker Strycek in the Kissling Motorsport-entered Opel Manta. It is the Nürburgring 24 hours, after all. If only there were some Italians there…
The full (provisional) list is here: NR24-2015-Entry-1