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N24: Wednesday Paddock Notes

News from DSC's first tour of the paddock

SP9 subdivision explained

SP9 has been split into two categories this year, SP9 and SP9LG. The latter consists of the three Abt Continentals and the Walkenhorst BMW Z4 GT3, as the class is reserved for the Last Generation of GT3 cars (up to homologation number 0036, The Bentley is 0035, the BMW 0023). The other 30 SP9 runners are all more recently homologated cars.

The 2017 N24 tyre war

The tyre section of the Nurburgring 24 Hours paddock is always an interesting place, this race one of the last bastions of true ‘tyre warfare’!

DSC has so far spotted nine tyre manufacturers present at the race this year. Dunlop, Michelin, Yokohama, Giti, Hankook, Falken, Bridgestone, Pirelli and Nexen.

Of those, Dunlop, Michelin, Yokohama and Falken will feature in the SP9 class.

Kiss it Christo!

DSC bumped into 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours winner Adam Christodoulou, shortly after the Mercedes photo call on the start finish straight yesterday. He was keen to point out (and show his affection for) the number his Black Falcon AMG GT3 is sporting this year.

It’s safe to say he’s looking forward to this one!

Spare cars

DSC has spotted two key spare chassis for race-week among the top runners, the first being the GTronix360 Team bringing along a second Renault R.S.01.

The other is Konrad, which has its 2017 Rolex 24 Hour Huracan GT3 in the paddock.

Photo calls

All the major manufactuerers in the GT3 ranks had their photo calls yesterday, the final one being of the BMW runners. The fleet of nine M6 GT3s (above) looked rather smart in pristine condition ahead of the on-track action later today, with their driver crews.

First sighting of the R8 LMS GT4

DSC spotted one of the brand new Audi R8 LMS GT4s in its garage yesterday. The car, which is making its global debut this year will race in SPX (the class reserved for non-homologated cars and cars which don’t fit into any other class) with Phoenix Racing, which is running a pair this weekend.

Interestingly, the SPX class also features a Manthey Racing Porsche Cayman MR GT4, so it will be interesting to see how the two rival VAG GT4 cars fare head-to-head. The N24 stalwart has opted to take its lead Cayman out of SP10 GT4 and put it into SPX so it isn’t racing against its customers.

WTCC

The increasingly underwhelming WTCC grid, back for another year supporting the N24, nevertheless features a number of drivers familiar to longtime DSC readers.

Ex-Arena Motorsport LMP1 driver Tom Chilton is racing with Sebastien Loeb Racing in a Citroen, Nicky Catsburg, who is doing double duty, racing with ROWE in SP9 in the 24, will drive a Volvo along with 2001 FIA Sportscar Champion Thed Bjork, 2000 Japanese GT Champion Ryo Michigami is in a Honda Civic and Tom Coronel, who in the past drove for the Spyker Squardran, is piloting a Chevrolet Cruze.

Nicki Thiim on the GT8’s prospects

Nicki This and his AMR team mate Darren Turner are both looking forward to the challenge of campaigning the Aston Martin Lagonda-entered GT8 in the SP8 group this year, the team opting out of the GT3 spec SP9 class this year.

“It’s a very cool car. very fast in a straight line, not nearly as much aero as the GT3 car and not as much in terms of electronics either so it’s fun to drive,” said the 2016 WEC GT Drivers Champ, “This race is all about staying out of trouble, squeezing out a fast lap when we can do so safely and seeing where it leaves us at the end of the race.”

Targets? “A finish! but we’re looking at trying for the top 20, but that means no mistakes for us and some bad luck elsewhere.”

Opel-tastic

The ‘Fox tail’ Opel Manta is back once again of course, the Kissling Motorsport-entered car now in its 24th season of competition we believe!

It’s joined in the SP3 class this year by not one but two Opel Calibras!