Porsche 911 GT3 R, Manthey EMA (#911), Michael Christensen (DK), Kevin Estre (F), Frederic Makowiecki (F), Thomas Preining (A)
Strong contingent of Porsche partners in the top class
First 24-hour Eifel classic for the new Porsche 911 GT3 R
Porsche is the most strongly represented brand in the “Green Hell”
Unpredictable weather conditions could cause thrills and spills
Seven Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by six customer teams will fight for overall victory at this year’s 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife (20/21 May). The up to 416 kW (565 PS) GT3 cars from Weissach go up against 27 vehicles from six rival manufacturers in the top SP9 class. Of the expected 136 entries, the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer campaigns by far the largest contingent. A total of 44 racing vehicles from Zuffenhausen will compete in twelve different categories.
With its professional customer squads, Porsche has its sights set on clinching its 14th overall victory at the storied 24-hour race in Germany’s Eifel region. The results and insights from the Qualifiers event and previous races of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) were encouraging. Nevertheless, uncertainties remain: The Porsche 911 GT3 R, which was launched for the 2023 season and is based on the 992-generation nine-eleven, will line up on the grid of the 24-hour classic for the first time. In preparation for this year’s highlight on the famous Nordschleife, the Falken Motorsports team finished three of the NLS races in the top ten.
“It doesn’t matter how many kilometres you cover in the ‘Green Hell’, it’s never enough to be assured of victory at the 24-hour race,” warns Sebastian Golz ahead of the endurance race in the Eifel. The Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R adds: “Our customer teams compete this year with our brand new GT3 car. In preparation, the focus was on finding a baseline setup for the three tyre partners Falken, Michelin and Pirelli. We have worked systematically on developing the car in test and tuning sessions, at the NLS races and the 24-hour Qualifiers event. That gives us and our partner teams cause for optimism as we head to the highlight event.”
Many other racing cars from Stuttgart will line up alongside the latest Porsche 911 GT3 R – including the 911 GT3 Cup from two different model years and several versions of the Porsche Cayman as well as vehicles like a 911 Carrera, which was prepared on a private initiative to tackle the “Green Hell”. A total of 44 cars sporting the Porsche emblem are registered for the 51st edition of the long-distance race. Thus, the brand from Zuffenhausen makes up almost a third of the 136-strong field.
“Porsche is by far the most strongly represented brand at the Nürburgring 24-hour race this year. This shows that we continue to enjoy a high level of trust from our partners and customers, even in challenging times, and that our products are well established on the market,” says Michael Dreiser, Director Sales Porsche Motorsport. “I’m sure that our new Porsche 911 GT3 R will perform strongly in the tough competition of the top SP9 class. The customer teams are extremely professional and all cars are crewed by first-class drivers. And in the other fiercely-contested classes, our customers are sure to deliver some action-packed racing, for example in the Cup 2 class with the 911 GT3 Cup and the Cup 3 class with the 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.”
The 24-hour race on the Nürburgring will be contested for the 51st time on 20/21 May. After the debut event in June 1970, the race twice around the clock was cancelled three times: in 1974 and 1975 due to the oil crisis at that time and in 1983 due to construction work. Since 2005, the race has been held on a 25.378-kilometre combination of the historic Nordschleife and the modern Grand Prix circuit. The racetrack features more than 70 corners, including the famous steeply-banked “Karussell”. The steepest incline of the undulating course has a gradient of 18 percent with the steepest downhill section at a maximum of 11 percent. On the 2.6-kilometre “Döttinger Höhe” straight, the racing cars achieve a top speed of over 280 km/h.
Compared to other 24-hour races, the Eifel classic features a few special rules. The grid line-up at the front is determined by individual time trials. This spectacular session (Top Qualifying 2) is preceded by two stages. Thirteen vehicles have already secured a spot as part of this year’s NLS races as well as at the 24-hour Qualifiers event. Another six cars can make it into the final individual time trial in the “Top Qualifying 1” session. A classification system – the so-called Balance of Performance (BoP) – is intended to level out the competitiveness of the different GT3 models in the top SP9 class. This can be done using regulating factors such as engine power, vehicle weight and fuel tank quantities, among other things.
Porsche teams and drivers (SP9 class)
Porsche supports the customer teams Dinamic GT, Falken Motorsports, Lionspeed by Car Collection Motorsport, Manthey EMA and Rutronik Racing in the Eifel by supplying drivers from its driver squad, among other things. The WEC drivers Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki as well as DTM driver Thomas Preining form the powerful quartet in Manthey EMA’s 911 GT3 R with the nickname “Grello”. Matt Campbell from Australia and Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet join forces with Lionspeed by Car Collection Motorsport. Belgium’s Laurens Vanthoor drives the No. 54 Porsche 911 campaigned by Dinamic GT.
An overview of Porsche teams and drivers (SP9-Klasse) Lionspeed by Car Collection Motorsport (Porsche 911 GT3 R #24)
Patrick Kolb (D), Matt Campbell (AUS), Mathieu Jaminet (F), Patrick Pilet (F) Huber Motorsport (Porsche 911 GT3 R #25)
Dennis Fetzer (D), Côme Ledogar (F), Lars Kern (D), Romain Dumas (F) Falken Motorsports (Porsche 911 GT3 R #33)
Klaus Bachler (A), Sven Müller (D), Alessio Picariello (B) Falken Motorsports (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44)
Joel Eriksson (S), Tim Heinemann (D), Nico Menzel (D), Martin Ragginger (A) Dinamic GT (Porsche 911 GT3 R #54)
Laurens Vanthoor (B), Laurin Heinrich (D), Ayhancan Güven (TR), Christian Engelhart (D) Rutronik Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R #96)
Dennis Olsen (N), Matteo Cairoli (I), Julien Andlauer (F) Manthey EMA (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911)
Michael Christensen (DK), Kévin Estre (F), Frédéric Makowiecki (F), Thomas Preining (A)
Sunday, 21 May
4:00 pm: Chequered flag Nürburgring 24 Hours
Comments before the race Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #24): “We’re about to take on the toughest race of the year. Often, it’s the ever-changing weather conditions that top off the already very strenuous driving on the Nordschleife. Our preparation wasn’t quite ideal because we got very little track time with our team Lionspeed by Car Collection. But the performance is there: We’re already safely in the ,Top Qualifying 2’ with our car, so we can concentrate fully on working on the setup in all the sessions before the shootout for the best grid positions. Let’s see how well we do in the race.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #25): “Our Huber Motorsport team has advanced into the pro category this year. I think that’s great. I drove for the team in 2022 and feel right at home there. I think our driver squad is really good. In addition, we’ve already gotten to know the new Porsche 911 GT3 R extensively. There are still refinements to be made so that we can maintain as fast a pace as possible, not just over a single lap but over a complete stint. I’m hoping for good weather and an exciting 24 hours of racing.”
Klaus Bachler (Porsche 911 GT3 R #33): “This year, I’m competing in the top GT3 class at the 24-hour race for the eighth time. I've already been able to fight for a top spot a few times. In 2021, I probably achieved my best result to date: we only just missed out on a podium result shortly before the end of the race and finished in fourth place. I’m hoping that this year I'll manage to finish on the podium and - if everything goes well – we’ll also be able to fight for overall victory.”
Nico Menzel (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44): “This is my first time competing with Falken Motorsports at my home race. The team gave me a warm welcome the minute I arrived. Falken’s tyre is working very well this year. We have ticked off an extensive test programme and tried out a lot, and the preparatory races went well. Now we have to see where we stand compared to the competition. I think it’s great to be back in a Pro class car after the last few years in the Pro-Am class. We have a very capable driver squad to attack at the front.”
Laurin Heinrich (Porsche 911 GT3 R #54): “I’m particularly looking forward to my first start in the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. It has always been my goal to compete there in the top class - an absolute highlight in my career! Our Dinamic GT team is experienced and well-positioned, and the driver squad is strong, as well. We have a great mix of experience and youth on board. Our preparation races went very well. Together with our partners, I think we can head into the race feeling optimistic.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #96): “One of the absolute highlight races of the season is just around the corner and I can’t wait for the weekend to get underway. The new Porsche 911 GT3 R has shown great potential compared to the previous generation. Together with Rutronik Racing, we’re very well prepared and ready for the ‘Green Hell’.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “I’m super excited about the Nürburgring 24 Hours and can’t wait to drive the ‘Grello’ again. I think we still have a score to settle after the early retirement last year. The preparations went okay, but we still lacked a bit of performance. Let’s see what tweaks we can still make before the race.”
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