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6H Nürburgring: Friday Morning Paddock Notes

Vilander, a GTD Lexus and how to follow the race

Vilander on his WEC return

Ex-GTE Pro WEC title winner Toni Vilander is set to make his first WEC start since 2015 this weekend, alongside Davide Rigon in the #71 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE. This deal came due to the absence of Sam Bird, who is racing in the Formula E round at New York this weekend with DS Virigin Racing.

“This drive comes after Risi has decided to skip a few races in IMSA,” Vilander said to DSC. “I’m looking forward to the weekend, it’s been a little while since I’ve been with AF Corse, obviously, I know the team, and the car, but the teams are different. Hopefully the weather is consistent so I have more time to get used to the car and get used to things with Davide.

“I got the call from a combined decision by Amato (Ferrari), Mr (Antonello) Colletta, and Christiano Michelotto. Once this race came closer, after Le Mans they started thinking about this race. I don’t know how it went with Sam, whether he knew he would do the Formula E race or not. I kept myself ready, even if things don’t move forward, that I should be ready, and I got word a few days before the announcement.

“I’ve only been with the team briefly ahead of this weekend, and already I can tell there’s a difference between how AF Corse is now, compared to how it was back when I last raced with them.”

Usually, Vilander races with Risi Competizione in IMSA’s GTLM class, though the team has opted to take a hiatus from the series this year, post-Le Mans. Vilander is confident that the American privateer outfit will be back in the series for the end of the season.

“I really enjoy racing with Risi, they have a great spirit,” he continued. “We are disappointed to miss races. I’ve tried to push that we finish the season. I want us to do Petit Le Mans to defend our win from last season, and maybe a race or two before that to get back in the rhythm.”

Spotted in the paddock

A surprising find in the Nurburgring mega store was this IMSA GTD 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3 (featured), apparently arriving at the ‘Ring from an appearance at the Goodwood Festival of Speed last weekend.

The regular extraction practice sessions that ensure that track rescue crews are familiar with teach of the FIA WEC cars saw the team spending time with the Ford GT team yesterday afternoon (above) and gave us an opportunity to see the ‘extraction hatch’ now mandatory for all new GTE and GT3 cars in action.

The support bill

Amongst the support race grids at the Nürburgring are the SMP Racing pair in Formula V8 3.5, Egor Orudzhev and Matevos Isaakyan that will make their sportscar racing debuts next weekend at Red Bull Ring in SMP’s Dallara P217 LMP2 coupe.

The Formula Renault 2.0 Eurocup is also on a busy support bill with UK LMP3 Cup Douglas Motorsport racer Thomas Randle making his rookie appearance in the Series this year.

Broadcast schedule

With Allan McNish on Formula E duty in New York this weekend DSC’s Editor Graham Goodwin returns to the TV commentary booth for the 6 H Nürburgring alongside Toby Moody. 

Radio Le Mans will be providing their regular ‘live and free’ coverage of the Sunday race too.

Sunday’s 6 Hours of Nürburgring is set to begin at 13:00 local time in Germany. The full distribution schedule is available HERE>>