The time has finally come, and the 2011 edition of the Nurburgring 24h is about to start. Kazunori Yamauchi, creator of he Gran Turismo series, is one of the many drivers taking part in this legendary event at the wheel of the #71 Team Schulze Nissan GTR.
As promised here at DualShockers we’ll cover the race extensively for it’s whole duration. This post will be edited periodically in order to add information and updated news on the race and on Yamauchi’s team.
Alongside Yamauchi team Schulze includes Michael Schulze, Tobias Schulze and Yasuyoshi Yamamoto (founder of the legendary Japanese car tuner Opera Performance). The car is a Nissan GTR with a 6 cyl./3799 cc engine weighing 1520 kg, starting with number 71. They will be starting in 49th position overall, third position in their class SP 8T.
Here’s some information on how to follow the race:
First of all you can join the IRC channel we prepared for the event #CheerOnKazunori on the Sorcerynet server, were we will discuss and chat directly:
To join click here if you have a IRC client, or here to chat directly on your browser. Come chat with us!
You can watch the race live on the official site here, on Audi TV and on Sportauto. The german TV channel Sport 1 will also broadcast the race, you can see it from everywhere in Europe if you have Satellite TV.
The best radio coverage in English can be listened on radiolemans.com.
But let’s start our coverage!
3:55 PM: Local Time: and the sky is cloudy. It’s raining just a bit and the track is slightly wet. The weather forecast says it might continue to rain today. The temperature is 15° Celsius. The race is about to start!
4:00 PM: The rain has worsened slightly, and the race has started on time. No crashes during the very crowded start, which is great.
4: 20 PM: The rain has suddenly stopped, playing a bad joke on the drivers. The track is drying up fast, and most of the cars are going back to the pits in order to change tires. There’s a big chaos in the pitlane as everyone crowds it in order to try and change their rain tires to slicks. Rain tires would be very dangerous on a dry Nurburgring, as the track is so long that going back to the pits might take a long time.
4:25 PM: We can confirm that Yamauchi’s #71 changed tires to slicks as well. You can see the pit stop in the snapshot just below. We’ll see at the end of the current lap if the team managed to gain some positions or lost them during the chaos of the pit stop.
It’s extremely difficult to predict what kind of tires to use in this kind of weather conditions at the Nurburgring 24h, because the cars need to be ready on the grid 45 minutes before the start of the race. In fact, almost everyone started with rain or intermediate tires.
4:50 PM: Yamauchi’s #71 is currently in 72nd position after four laps. The early pit stop must have hurt their standing. In that kind of chaos with almost every car on the track scrambling to pit, getting out of it becomes a lottery. The race is still just at the beginning though, so there’s still a whole lot of room for improvement. The weather is still extremely unstable.
5:00 PM: #71 is in 74th now. Things are downright chaotic, as it started raining again. This weather must be driving the pit teams crazy. An Audi just spun out.
5:11 PM: The rain is still very light and #71 is climbing positions quickly. It’s in 54th position as the moment.
5: 26 PM: #71 continues to climb ranks beautifully, with an extremely fast 8th lap timed at 9:33:144. It’s now in 41st position, for the first time after the initial chaotic pit stop they are in a better position than their initial one.
5:43 PM: Let’s give a quick look to Team Schulze’s opponents in class SP 8T: The most fearsome opponent is Volkswagen’s official racing team, Volkswagen Motorsport. They have a full hand of three Golf GT 24. #35, #135 and #235. They’re light (weighing only 1300 kg) stable and powerful, and are fearsome opponents on the Nurburgring. In addition to it they have the full support of an auto maker behind them. Official teams are always the hardest to compete against. Another veteran team, Götz Motorsport, fields two Audi RS4, #72 and #73. They’re lighter than the GTR as well (weighing 1350 kg), and have experienced teams at the wheel.
#135 is leading the class at the moment, in 17th overall position. #235 is following in 42nd. Yamauchi’s #71 GTR is third, in 45th. #35 is 58th, #73 and #72 are at the bottom of the class rankings in 66th and 67th position. It’s looking like it’ll be a close and bitterly fought race to see who will come up on top of SP 8T class.
5:49 PM: #29 Audi just had a nasty spin and impacted violently against the barriers. The driver is unhurt, but it’s race over for them. Lots of dirt and fluids on the track.
6:00 PM: Another pit stop for Yamauchi’s #71 for a driver change. It’s now slipped down to 69th position due to the 4 minutes lost during the stop.
6:17 PM: #71 is back in the top 60, climbing fast, currently in 54th position, 4th in the SP 8T class.
6:29 PM: At the bottom of the 14th lap Yamauchi and team are climbing the rankings more, currently on 48th with another fast lap: 9 minutes and 35 seconds. Still fourth in the class as the lighter Golf GT’s have an advantage on the dry course.
7:00 PM: #71 is back in 53rd position. The sky is clearing and this may be a problem for Team Schulze, as the GTR is the heaviest car in it’s class. Rain would be a blessing, but so far it doesn’t seem it’s going to happen anytime soon.
7:12 PM: #206 BMW 318 IS just went into the grass at the Pflanzgarten and the car literally took off, flying over the barrier and crashing out of the track. That was a nasty sight…
7:26 PM: #71 is now stably in 50th position, running on a rather constant 9:35 time. Catching the Golf GT’s of Volkswagen Motorsport will be very hard even if nothing is impossible. In the meanwhile #2 Hankook Ferrari is firmly holding the lead, making German manufacturers rage, no doubt.
7:31 PM: At the end of the 20th lap, Yamauchi’s team is climbing again, in 43rd position. Unfortunately for them an update on the weather forecast shows stable improvement, as it probably won’t rain anymore, and tomorrow might actually be sunny.
7:44 PM: While #71 is in 42nd position, #1 BMW that had snatched the lead from #2 Ferrari drove too much into the inside at the Carousel and lost control, tapping on another car and spinning, while they aren’t out of the race, their fight for the lead is now severely compromised.
8:00 PM: four hours into the race, Yamauchi just drove his GTR into the pits. You can see his car in the picture below as it almost got rear ended by #14 Audi at the entrance of the pit lane.
8:17 PM: after the pit stop and a driver change #71 slid back down in 50th position. In other news the Hankook Ferrari lost the lead to #9 hybrid Porsche, due to a long pit stop due to a broken suspension.
8:46 PM: One hour to full sunset, #71 is stuck in 44th position. In the meanwhile #9 hybrid Porshe lost the lead due to severe problems in the gearbox and had to pit in (probably to change it altogether), just as the Hankook Ferrari finally managed to get back into the race, after more than forty minutes.
9:09 PM: At the end of the 30th lap, #71 is now climbing slowly again, currently in 38th position, after a quick pit stop. The team also just improved their record lap with a 9:27:085.
9:25 PM: It’s starting to get dark, #71 slid back in 43rd position after a slower lap. A quick note on one of their direct competitors, #235 Golf GT: the team includes Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell. Both were Formula 1 drivers, giving a good idea on the caliber of the competition.
9:50 PM: #71 GTR is still stuck in 43rd position. A car just spun at the first turn of the F1 track. I’m feeling sympathetic, considering how many times I’ve spun there both in Gran Turismo 5 and Forza 3…
10: 10 PM: Yamauchi’s team is again climbing in the ranks. Currently in 36th position after a very fast 9:18.553 lap. It’s now fully dark, and the experience of drivers is really going to start to matter.
10:24 PM: #135 Golf GT is having trouble, stuck at the beginning of the pit lane facing the wrong way. No effort is being made to remove it at the moment, and it might be out of the race. In that case, with one of the leading SP 8T class cars out, a podium finish would be much more possible for Yamauchi and team Schulze. That’s the essence of endurance races. Driving fast is important, but handling problems the best way (because problems are going to happen in twenty-four hours on such an unforgiving track) and keeping a cool head and the car in the best condition is even more determining.
Yamauchi just posted on his twitter account: “Passed the baton to the next driver up to #37 overall, and then passed the baton to push throughout the third stint in the #47 overall. My body is finally getting accustomed to the machine and because the head began to run freely, independent of the body, I was trying to adjust without disturbing it. ” Keep in mind that my Japanese is far from perfect, so the translation may be a little wacky. Feel free to post a better one in the comments.
10:38 PM: #135 is being towed out, with significant damage to the front. Looks like it rear ended another car while entering the pits, resulting in both cars heavily damaged. It’s possibly race over for them. Yamauchi’s #71 is currently 39th on it’s 38th lap, in third position in SP 8T class.
10:49 PM: Looks like Volkswagen Motorsport is facing it’s darkest moment, as #35 Golf GT has been in the pits for a while as well. We don’t know what it’s status is at the moment. In the meanwhile #71 climbed to 36th position.
11:17 PM: It’s almost Sunday on the Nurburgring, and the #71 GTR is still stable in 36th position overall, 2nd position in the SP 8T class. #35 Golf GT dropped in 50th position, as it’s now completely dark on the track.
11:38 PM: #71 is in 33rd position and going at a stable pace. So far so good.
Midnight: it’s Sunday now on the Nurburgring, and we’re now eight hours into this epic race. Here’s the full standings of the SP 8T class:
1: #235 Volkswagen Golf GT – Volkswagen Motorsport (22nd overall)
2: #71 Nissan GTR – Schulze Motorsport (33th overall)
3: #72 Audi RS4 – Götz Motorsport (61st overall)
4: #73 Audi RS4 – Götz Motorsport (72nd overall)
5: #35 Volkswagen Golf GT – Volkswagen Motorsport (109th overall, must be having further problems)
6: #135 Volkswagen Golf GT – Volkswagen Motorsport (In the pits, probably retired)
Yamauchi and his team are going strong. A class win is not impossible!
00:44 AM: Yamauchi’s #71 is now 31st overall, still second in it’s class. We’re now in the timeframe in which most mistakes happen, so it’s good that they’re keeping a safe, steady pace.
1:11 AM: #71 dropped a few positions. Curently 35th overall, at the bottom of it’s 53rd lap. Times are still good though. They just clocked a 9:20 lap.
1:26 AM: The #71 GTR is now up again on 31st position. Will the team manage to break into the top 30?
1:35 AM: One of the direct competitors of Yamauchi’s GTR, #35 VW Golf GT is stuck in the pits. The team is replacing the gearbox, and the process will take three hours and a half. While they plan to resume, their bid on the class podium is compromised.
2:00 AM: Things are looking up fpr #71′s GTR, as after a pit stop it has finally broken into the top thirty of the leaderboards. It’s now in 28th place overall, still in 2nd position for class SP 8T.
This concludes our coverage for tonight, as I’m heading for a quick pit stop in bed. I’ll resume coverage in the early morning at about 7 AM local time (1 AM EDT, 10 PM PDT) in a new post (since this one is starting to get too long). Stay tuned!
Update: coverage for the morning has started! you can find it here.