Traum Motorsport’s Jeff Westphal stormed to Pole Position in the Top-30 Qualifying session ahead of tomorrow’s Nürburgring 24 Hours in the #704 SPX-class Glickenhaus SCG003C. Westphal’s flyer, on his second lap, was an 8:15.427 tour of the Nordschleife, 0.675 clear of the other 28 runners that took part.
“I feel great, the team has worked so hard, we’re fighting the best in the world so for us to achieve this is amazing for the guys,” exclaimed the American after the session. “It’s amazing for the crew who have worked so hard.
“Lap 1 for me was pretty good, with a couple of spots I could perfect, I had a little too much understeer but on the second lap I was hanging on out on the loop. If you’d have asked me this morning if I would do an 8:15 I don’t know I would have said yes.
“We’re a small manufacturer, it’s David vs Goliath, it’s been a long road. I think so much of this race is a flat out sprint but you need to take care. I think we have a good shot at it, I’d love for the car to be reliable, push on into the darkness, come out in the morning so we can see where we’re at.
“It’s a huge honour to be in front of this field, it’s quality.”
Second fastest in the session was Connor Di Phillippi in the #29 Audi Sport Team Land R8 LMS, the Californian setting a 8:16.102 on his first lap to set provisional Pole. Notably, Land, and Audi Sport Team WRT, chose to use Dunlop tyres in the session. The Pole-sitting car on Dunlops also.
“They did a slightly better job, it’s not by much, it’s three hundredths of a second per sector,” added Di Phillippi. “This is our team’s first time with proper works support, it’s great to get P2 at the Nürburgring.”
Rounding out the top three, was the #9 WRT Audi R8 LMS of Robin Frijns, who was first out onto the circuit and consequently set a time. Frijns’ best was a 8:16.174 on his first lap.
The Wochenspiegel Team Monshau Ferrari 488 slotted in fourth overall courtesy of Jochen Krumbach, who steered the car round the circuit in 8:16.365, ahead of the second WRT Audi – the #10 of Nico Müller – which was 1.5 seconds off the Pole time.
The fastest of the Mercedes AMG GT3s could only manage seventh in the running order. The best of the pack was last year’s Pole-sitter Maro Engel in the #3 AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes. The #5 Phoenix Racing Audi of Mike Rockenfeller pipped Engel’s Merc to fifth.
The best of the Porsches, the #59 Manthey Racing 911 GT3 R, managed eighth; with the #28 sister Land Audi ninth and the #43 Schnitzer BMW, remarkably the fastest of the M6 GT3s, rounding out the top 10.
Not all of the 30 cars eligible took part in the session. The #31 Frikadelli Porche would forego its place in the session to “conserve tyres for the race” as the debacle over tyre choice continues with all sorts of rumour and speculation over potential choice, or indeed choices.
That news came after the withdrawal, initially from the session, and then soon after from the race, for the luckless Walkenhorst-run #100 BMW M6 GT3. The rear-end damage suffered in the morning Qualifying session proved to be beyond the ability of the team to fix in time here.
That allowed the #19 Schubert BMW into the final place, and eventually go on to qualify 23rd overall, with Jens Klingmann setting an 8:21.211 time.
For the other Schubert BMW – the #20 – it was a tough session, the M6 GT3 of Jesse Krohn crashing out on his second lap after setting a 8:19.479 to qualify 17th. The car was spotted heading back to the paddock on the back of a flatbed after the session, with front-end damage. BMW has confirmed to DSC that Krohn is ok, but there’s no word yet on whether the car is repairable for the race tomorrow.
The 2017 Nürburgring 24 Hours is set to get underway at 15:30 local time in Germany tomorrow.