Tom Onslow-Cole and Alex Lynn are set to make their maiden Nürburgring 24 Hours starts this year with BMW, as part of the brand’s works-supported SP9 GT3 effort with Schubert Motorsport and ROWE Racing to win the race overall for a record 20th time.
For both Britons, who are new additions to BMW’s star-studded lineup, this year’s N24 will present a new challenge. At one of the most important races of the year, both will need to learn on the job alongside a selection of some of the world’s best GT drivers as the M6 GT3 takes on the German twice-round-the-clock classic a second time.
“I’ve kept a really good relationship with BMW since I tested its DTM car in 2014, that went well and I kept in contact. When I got the email asking if I wanted to do the Nürburgring 24 Hours,” Lynn, who is still relatively new to sportscar racing, told DSC. “I had to ask myself ‘do I?’ I questioned my self. It’s a daunting prospect, a massive challenge and one unlike anything I’ll have experienced to that point. For a driver it doesn’t get purer than that.
“But it’s BMW, and the chance to drive in a works-backed effort with BMW legends like Timo Scheider, Jörg Muller and Bruno Spengler was an offer which ultimately I couldn’t refuse. I know which car I’m due to be in, and I’m pretty pleased with who I’ll be sharing it with!
“I raced on the Nürburgring GP loop in Formula 3 but I’m new to the Nordschleife,” he continued, “so getting my licence will be the first priority for me. My understanding is that I’m set to do the maximum I can in terms of running beforehand, so I’ll compete in both the VLN races before the 24 and the test in an M6.
“There will be no stone left unturned with this, as everyone I’m racing with is massively experienced. I’ll be shaping up, doing track days, sim work, the lot. It’s an honour to race for BMW at one of its biggest events, so I need to show them that I fully understand that.”
For Lynn, the big race in May will be his first 24-hour race. The 23-year-old, who raced in the final rounds of the WEC last year and the Gulf 12 Hours in December, does have endurance racing experience, but has never competed in a race of that length.
Onslow-Cole on the other hand, has a slew of GT3 and 24-hour race experience; he also has a Nürburgring licence too. Racing with SPS Performance and Ram Racing, Onslow-Cole has competed in various 24H Series events in the past two years including races like the Dubai 24 Hours and the 24 Hours of Paul Ricard.
“I’ve driven a variety of GT3 machinery, so I feel confident to tackle the Nürburgring 24 Hours now,” said Onslow-Cole. “I got the deal after going out to Bathurst for some testing. I was hoping to get a drive in the 12 Hour, but that didn’t work out.
“I did meet up with some BMW guys there though, and drove an M6 GT3 round the Mountain for about nine or so laps, which led to getting this drive. So to be honest, it was quite a good networking experience! It was more than I thought I was in for.
“The M6 isn’t as big as it looks, that’s the key. It’s far more nimble than you’d think, with great downforce and it was very easy to get in and drive.
“Alex is in a different situation to me as he has to get his permit before the race. I raced on the ‘Ring with Miltek Sport in a Toyota GT86 last year in the VLN, so I do have experience. It was a great car to learn the track in, being in a slower car has its own difficulties, but it’s a good foundation.”
Driving in a GT3 car on the Nordschleife, and during the 24 Hours is a totally different kettle of fish though. With unpredictable weather, relentless traffic and almost no track lighting during the night, for both drivers it will be an eye-opening experience.
“In the VLN I did drive on the ‘Ring in the daytime and in the dry… I’m not sure the conditions will hold up for the N24, it rarely does right? I mean, they stopped it last year for a hail storm… In the summer… So I’m not sure I’ll be so lucky.
“I’m praying for a calmer race though!”
Alex Lynn photo courtesy of Jakob Ebrey Photography