E do you still remember the huge chaos at the beginning of the season last year? Yes? Then you can now take a deep breath. This year, the rubbish should subside and the hope for fans and participants alike to experience a 24-hour race that is not overshadowed by curious tire discussions, but rather shows a reasonably realistic picture of the balance of power between the GT3 manufacturers on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife .
At least if you can talk about something like that before the big chariot race, you consider the usual game of hide-and-seek, which of course is not absent at the start of the season in the VLN. Christian Menzel entertained the audience on this topic with brisk sayings like this: “There are cars that have no performance because they drive completely overfilled. I drove behind a vehicle and I had tears in my eyes. ”He wasn't alone. Other drivers also reported this phenomenon.
Rake and rear wing monitored
The good news: the manufacturers are now putting the thumbscrews on themselves. At least each other. The organizers of the 24h race founded a “Technical Working Group” together with the manufacturers. Even if we do not approve of the name, because it somehow reminds of a little too much say in the DTM, some flowers have already emerged from it that point in the right direction -container '>
For example the thought that the rake, i.e. theThe angle of incidence of the car and the rear wing position are included in the assessment of the balance of performance. Because in the past you played with these variables in order to complain to the BOP makers. In fact, it was nothing more than a fog bomb. Recently, manufacturers have to specify a reference value for the rake with a margin of +/- 0.12 degrees and a value for the rear wing setting with a margin of +/- 2.5 degrees.
New top speed measurement points
Checks are carried out after training and races. However, some insiders regard the verification as difficult. The original idea was anyway to only control in the parc fermé - with the background of having a better classification of lap times and possible whining of individual manufacturers.
In addition, Scott Raymond, previously in the service of the IMSA series , acted as the new 'messiah' by some in the paddock. The engineer is on site for the runs before the 24-hour race and supports the previous balance-of-performance committee around Norbert Kreyer with additional data analysis tools. And the establishment of three new top speed measuring points in the sections of the Schwedenkreuz, Klostertal and Antoniusbuche sections should provide even more information about any trickery.
Basically, the values can also be determined via a data logger, but this is how the competition should also be Have an overview and be offered more transparency. At the start of the season, the topic of sector times was bumpy anyway: Sectors 3 and 4 could not be measured at VLN 1 because the loops were probably damaged during work on the route.
Audi R8 LMS extremely efficient
Big point of discussion even before the start of the season: the top speed of the Audi R8 LMS. Before the first VLN race, they responded with a lap time-neutral adjustment by means of a 0.5 millimeter smaller restrictor and 15 kilograms less weight. “The Audi is an incredibly efficient car,” says Kreyer. “It's actually our job to balance the lap times, not the top speed. But there we come to the eternal concept question: Do you put onDownforce in the corners and therefore less top speed - or on lower cornering speed and thus the advantage on the straights? ”
Last year it was mainly Mercedes who complained about being sniffed at the Döttinger Höhe. It now seems to be satisfied with the adjustments that were made bit by bit over the second half of the season. A good indication: the times in sector 5, which extends from the gallows head to the finish line on the Grand Prix track. Here top speed is almost exclusively required.
Tire mess is a thing of the past
Well there: the two Ferraris. There is often a dispute about how the classification of the 488 GT3 is to be assessed. A works driver is not used on any of the 488s - reason enough to turn a blind eye so as not to scare off customers? In any case, one or the other professional driver from the competition feels a bit confused. On the other hand, the BOP makers always have to orientate themselves towards the fastest car - and there are only these two. With an Audi, Mercedes or the like, the exotic status would be gone anyway.
The tire mess shouldn't be repeated this year. This is prevented in that every manufacturer has to start at least one car with the respective tire manufacturers and pro drivers in VLN 1, 2 and the 24h qualifying race. A maximum of nine specifications from a tire manufacturer are permitted per vehicle type and axle. In addition, all tires that are to be used in the 24-hour race must have driven at least two timed laps - whether training or racing. The suggestion was already circulated last year, but was only implemented this season. The aim is to prevent a manufacturer from pulling a “magic tire” out of their pocket for the 24-hour race.
Mercedes has decided on Michelin. One driver heard: “With the Dunlop you had to make too many compromises in the set-up of this car.” The two Rowe BMWs also rely on Michelin. At Porsche and Audi, on the other hand, you drive two tracks.
The Ingolstadt,who celebrated victory with Land Motorsport and Dunlop in 2017, split two factory-supported cars from WRT and Phoenix with Dunlop and two from Land und Mücke with Michelin. While the majority of the 911 GT3 R relies on Michelin, Frikadelli Racing is the only team to have decided to equip both 911s with Dunlop after having started testing with Dunlop at the end of last season. A Porsche connoisseur says: “That could work. It should behave similarly to the Audi. I assume there will be equal opportunities. ”
Rain tires decisive
The question is what the Dunlop rain tire can do, which lost around 20 seconds of time last year. “We worked on it over the winter,” says Dunlop tire manager Alex Kühn. An insider contradicts this: The rain tire is still behind the competition from Michelin. But the Dunlop slicks are more constant. Michelin is also said to have improved significantly after the disaster in the last 24h race in hot conditions - the problem with the slick tire was the long-distance durability in particular.
You hear that the French have their slick specifications At least in the case of BMW, like Dunlop, now divided into three different types from soft to medium to hard in order to cover a wider temperature range.
'Code 60 phases are elementary'
In addition to the Tires, the racing strategy played an important role in preparation for the Nürburgring-Nordschleife 2018 24-hour race. On the one hand, the tactical games have been simplified a little, because a table now regulates exactly which minimum idle time applies from the 70th minute before the end of the race to the end. In the previous year, this was not so easy for the simulation because there was another table between the 70th minute and the 30th minute - and then the idle times were released.
On the other hand, Code 60 phases play an increasingly important role in the decision of the race. At VLN 1, the total time was over three hours at the reduced pace. 'You no longer win a 4-hour or 6-hour race through strategy or performance on the track, the Code 60 phases are elementary,' says Rowe team boss Hans-Peter Naundorf. A move can be to put the Splash & Dash stop at the beginning of the race and drive countercyclically in order to catch the Code 60 passages more advantageously than the leader.
In general, the commitment of the manufacturers and their respective strategies are quite interesting in comparison. The principle still applies: the more cars, the more jokers. Without a doubt, BMW has made the most violent lane change: from six factory-supported M6 GT3s, you screw down to just two cars. Rowe Racing is the only team that is pushed - although Falken sends two drivers. Angry tongues are now asking: With the high failure rate in such a wild race with two cars, how can you win when you haven't made it with six irons in the fire? However, you have to give credit to the Rowe team for the enormous experience on the Nordschleife, which could make the difference here.
Porsche is turning up
Porsche is taking over the former mass concept from BMW. Manthey provides two 911 GT3 Rs, plus two Frikadelli Racing 911s, one from the team led by Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard and the Falken-Porsche. In the past, the subject of factory support was regulated less hierarchically in Weissach than with other manufacturers. Mercedes is fielding four AMG GT3s, split between two teams: HTP Motorsport and Black Falcon. Due to the surprising withdrawal of Haribo Racing, however, a team with a lot of experience was lost.
On the other hand, Audi's strategy of giving each of the four teams mentioned a factory-supported Audi R8 LMS is somewhat unusual. After all, two cars per team are an advantage - whether it concerns preparation or strategy in the race. Country and WRT are likely to have been fixed, the renaming of Phoenix Racing was added after only having one privately driven car at the start. But how do you distribute four cars fairly among three teams?
It is practical that Mücke Motorsport was offered, who have now fully committed to Audi in the ADAC GT Masters. Et voilà, four teams each with a factory-supported car. It is always emphasized: The flow of information is completely transparent, there is no competition.