The Nurburgring. The Green Hell. The world's longest and most challenging race track. Of course we love it, ask anyone who's been there and they'll tell you how absurdly addictive it is. But it's one thing to go on a public day and drive your own car around, quite another to compete in the fabled 24 hour race against 230 other cars.
This year three of those cars will have evo team members in them. You can keep a track of them via the links at the bottom of this page. Scroll this page for the latest news, views and snaps from the spectator's point of view, as Ollie Marriage, Stephen Dobie and Nick Trott report. Updates work from most recent at the top. Times are CET German time, so chop an hour off for BST...
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Monday, 2.59pm (UK time)
Back, and updating evo.co.uk with our closing coverage on the race. Here is my blog of the highlights.
I've also uploaded two slightly rubbish (but still worth watching) videos. Click here for them. Apologies for the distinct air of 'camera phone without a good flash'. Pic gallery to follow. (SD)
Time to head back to England soon. What a weekend. I came a little sceptical of the whole Ring phenomenon, and leave having had one of the best times ever. Hiking around the circuit in the wee small hours - meeting the die-hards and getting close to the action than I ever expected - is a real job highlight so far. Blog about it tomorrow.
Met up with the guys from RJN (who prepped my racer last weekend) for a beer and then saw Sabine Schmitz off her face. No other way to describe it. Her car had retired and the 'celebrations' started early.
Well done to our three racers, too. Harris for driving a street car to 13th, Dickie for a 3rd in class finish after mechanical troubles and Roger for, well, this: http://community.evo.co.uk/users/Stephen-Dobie/videos/view.cfm?videoID=403. Come back the next few days for galleries and reports.
Same time next year, me thinks... (SD)
The race finished half an hour ago. Stephen and I watched from the top of the VW tower as the pitlane drowned in a sea of champagne sprayed by those that made it to the end. The cars looks tired and battered, the drivers even more so. No win for Manthey this year, in fact it would have been a brave man that predicted a BMW M3 GT2 would win, with a Ferrari F430 in second, both ahead of an Audi R8 LMS. Fair play to all of them, they ran like clockwork. But I think Chris's result - 13th - in a standard road-going GT3 RS that was driven to the 'Ring, is frankly awesome. It's just a shame that the ding-dong battle to the end with Dickie's V12 Vantage failed to materialise due to mechanical faults for the Aston that dropped it down the finishing order. 40th overall still ain't bad, though. (OM)
Going to make a run for it shortly. Want to catch the race-end drama from the pit lane; be in the thick of the drama. Keep a track of our runners here: http://adac.24h-rennen.de/Live-Ranking.4243.0.html
Monkey's car is number 11 (currently 14th), Meaden's is number 6 (currently 50th). The Aston is looking much quicker than cars ahead of it; barring any problems, here's to a last minute dash up the standings.
See you on the other side... (SD)
The drama never ends. Leading Porsche Hybrid runs out of steam, 22 and a quarter hours into the race. Transmission issues. Making its way back to pit on the back of a lorry, as BMW M3 GT2 picks up the lead. Ferrari 430 can't be far behind into second. Cruel on the Porsche boys. But an unpredictable finish looming. Full live results here (SD)
Monkey's just been up for a natter. The GT3 RS is currently 13th, a realistic 15th/16th if you account for other people's pit stops, apparently. Amazing work for a car that was driven to the track and still wears its number plates. There's been retirements from some of the big boys (including R8 number 2, which led the hybrid in the early hours) while Dickie's V12 lies 55th and third in class. Very commendable after the problems its suffered (tyres, pads, driveshafts, fuel pump). Hybrid now a lap ahead of second-placed M3, the two posting very similar times. Two of those thundering Z4 V8s are in the top ten. (SD)
Awake and back to normal! Some sausages and beans helped. Rog has blogged about his fiery exit from the race (click this way). I've loaded up more pics, a full gallery here and a selection on the right. The top two are well worth a look: two cars we came across in the woods, in the middle of the night. The Leon had mechanical problems, and was surrounded by helpful locals lending a hand and trying to get it running again. The next thing we saw was a lo-loader, yet I've seen it out and about on track this morning and it's still running.
The BMW, on the other hand, was tucked just off a corner near Pflanzgarten. It had clearly had a substantial smash somewhere along the way, and its team of mechanics and techs were feverishly fitting new parts and fashioning new ones. It was fascinating. And to see the car back at race speed this morning (not the foggiest how long it took to fix) is brilliant. 157th place, but with just shy of three hours left, a finish is possible. Best of luck to 'em. (SD)
Just awoke from a wee nap (squashed up on a sofa in the Porsche media lounge - I got woken up as I was amongst some form of press conference!) to find Harris's 911 up to 15th, and Meaden's Aston right down in 58th. Gather he/they've had really big problems with the car. Bugger. The evo duel looks to be off.
At the top of the grid, the hybrid 911 is now two laps ahead of its nearest competitor, the M3 GT2, and three ahead of the leading R8. A landmark win looks increasingly likely.
Must admit it's an odd feeling rejoining a race I started watching early yesterday afternoon. Can't imagine how all the mechanics and team techs - the people who simply can't rest - are feeling. (SD)
Just come back from what can only be described as an amazing night. Been on a six(ish) hour mooch through the woods and around the circuit, seeing cars collect air at Pflanzgarten, carry hilarious amounts of speed through Brunnchen, and - the thing I really wanted to see - go around the famous Karussell.
It's a great bit of the circuit, and the best place to get a feel for just how eclectic this grid is. The R8s thunder round unflustered, the 911s skip over, looking much more flighty, but carrying more speed. The Focus RS glided over as if it was designed purely for the Karussell, while the Ferrari 430 dodged the decline altogether and took a wide, wide line.
There were a number of Brits camped out there, and it's a superb place to stay. Close to the action at a fantastic part of the circuit. It was a proper hike to get there and back, and my shins are pretty angry with me now.
On the way we attempted to film a piece to camera, and as soon as the thing was switched on a group of insanely drunk Germans joined in. Gawd knows what I ended up saying. Will make interesting viewing. Our stroll through the woods saw us pass plenty groups of blatant Ring 24 regulars, complete with their mock sitting rooms, with favourite sofas dragged into the forest and accompanying camp fires.
911 Hybrid leads now, which isn't a surprise. Not sure who was driving it while we sat at the Karrusell, but they looked properly on it. Same can be said for the two 911s that crashed in the same period. Odd that those incidents were a couple of corners from us, but we never heard a thing.
Big picture gallery of my travels soon. Now, some well-earned food and my first shut-eye in over a day. That's if I can tear myself from watching the race, mind you... (SD)
And seeing as he's fine, unhurt, etc, we can have a small chuckle at his tumble out the car at 2:57 on said video. (SD)
Lead Manthey Porsche has crashed out. Top three now 1) Audi R8 LMS (no. 99) 2) GT3 R Hybrid (9) 3) BMW M3 GT2 (25). Monkey v Meaden is now 20th v 22nd. Gap is seriously closing. They'll both climb a place above the buggered Porsche soon, too. Updating this from the Porsche media centre; staff have all just crowded round TV as updates and interviews came in. They were saying things in German that sounded solemn. Still, the Hybrid's doing well... (SD)
Just been to see Dickie Meaden. He's not looking the most awake and chirpy I've ever seen him! His next stint is at midnight. I've left him prepping stuff and talking to the team (talks of tyre changes for the late night stretches) and will pop back just before he heads out for a 135min stretch. His next stint will be at around 6.30am, so a bit of shut-eye is likely in the meantime. My plan to not give in to sleep is so far going well. Thank the several Coca Colas (and those GT3 RS sweets) for that. (SD)
So, the update on places and times I was supposed to be doing when Roger went and selfishly took the limelight. In 20th place is Harris and his GT3 RS, last lap a 9m57s. Meaden's Aston V12 is in 24th, last lap a 9m38s. It's getting close...
Rog's Exige sits out the running, unsurprisingly, and is possibly being used as a barbeque by some locals as I type. Car no. 114 sits in 158th place overall though, thanks to the 31 laps it completed before combustion. (SD)
He's fine! Thought it was on fire, saw flashes in side mirrors (Exiges have no rear visibility at all), then the engine hiccuped and he lost all steering and brakes. Had to calmly crash the car to stop it then jump out. Don't think I'd have kept my cool like he did... (SD)
Roger's Lotus has just been very much on fire. He calmly slowed down on the side of the track and clambered out, and looks fine. Bloody hell. What a hero. Hopefully speak to him shortly... (SD)
Just been for a good hike around the circuit. Strolled through campsites near Haltzenbach and then walked down to Flugplatz. This place has to be seen to be believed. Surely this is the only place on Earth where you'll see a bunch of Germans chainsawing down a tree to get wood for a BBQ mere yards away from a bruised E36 kicking its tail out as a F1-soundtracked Lexus LFA screams past. The driving on display is pretty special, yet its not the only thing that grabs your eyes.
Also hard to believe we're only around a fifth of the way through the race. Seen so much already. Stopped off for some food and picture uploads then I think a night-time drip to the Karussell is on the cards. (SD)
Harris's 911 GT3 RS is 24th, Meaden's V12 Vantage 31st, Green's Vantage 104th. (SD)
Current standings: Porsche 911 one-two, Manthey in first, Hybrid works car second. Top 14 cars made up of fifty per cent Porsche GT3s in one form or another, with five R8s up there too. Only lists for top 15 around at min, will go on a mission to find out how our boys are doing... (SD)
If you want to follow the race from home, or you're toddling around the Ring wanting to hear some English voices, Radio Le Mans (click here) is the place. Commentary's from a Mackem, so you know it can be trusted. (SD)
An hour and a half since my last update, but that's because I'm enthralled. It's weird how the prospect of a 24 hour race drags me in more than one a fraction of that (hello, F1), even though the action is - by the nature of it - much more spread out. I've blogged on it if you're up for a read - click these words here.
I've also been ghost writing for Dickie Meaden, who's understandably too busy for such things right now, as he's about to clamber in his Aston for his first stint. His blog is this way...
The Manthey Porsche is back in the lead, it's quickest lap a mildly stunning 8min42sec. The Porsche GT3 R hybrid - currently 2nd - had been leading, a first in the N24 for such a powertrain. Still plenty of twists and turns ahead. Keep abreast of them via this lovely live leaderboard: http://adac.24h-rennen.de/Live.4059.0.html?&L=1 (SD)
Race underway, 23 hours, 9 minutes and 34 seconds to finish. Observations thus far: It's stayed sunny (but cold). The Manthey Porsche that leads is VERY quick. The BMW Z4s are the best sounding cars on the grid (really). The Opel Manta and Merc 190E are the best looking cars on the grid (definitely). And watching the start of my first 24 hour race ranks as one of the coolest things I've ever done... (SD)
So, not long until the 3pm kick off. Richard Meaden's Aston V12 team qualified 37th, Chris Harris's Porsche GT3 RS begins in 42nd and Roger Green's Lotus Exige from the grid's exact halfway point, 100th. Not bad for a non-works team effort. Keep your eyes on here for their latest news. (SD)
The sun has got his hat on! After hours of mist and fog, the sun's rays are cutting through it all and allowing us all to hope for good weather this afternoon and good visibility. Just over two hours 'til the start. (SD)
Audi is parading the new R8 GT supercar (full details and gallery here) around for a lap of the Nordschleife. It doesn't look a whole lot different to normal. If only it was doing a full-bore lap, and we'd see if it makes up for it with speed... (SD)
Three and a half hours 'til race time. Monkey's just turned up, and kindly donated some video footage of his GT3 RS in qualifying yesterday. You can read his tales of quali this way. (SD)
In the Porsche media lounge. If it wasn't for my urge to explore and get close to the action, I'd go grab my sleeping bag and stay here 'til Sunday aft. It's plush, there's food and drink aplenty, and some Porsche GT3 RS shaped Haribo (pic on right). Amazing. (SD)
To the circuit. Met up with Roger and his Lotus - it's a very smart looking thing, one of the coolest cars on the grid and a lovely break from all the super-doopercars with its lightweight, lithe bodywork. Rog seems cheery and is enthusing about his team's 100th placing on the grid - 99 cars in front, 99 behind. (SD)
Awake. Not slept well. The Germans who dominate the campsite had some kind of rave overnight. They've been here since Monday too, in order to secure spots close to the track. Quite how they've hacked it all week I don't know. Doubt they'll stay up the full 24 hours. (SD)
Just checked into the campsite. Me and Ollie have a swanky VW California for the weekend, but he's naffed off to a nice hotel and I'm camping alone tonight. All the stories of nuts, unhinged locals during racing weekend are true - the drive from campsite entrance to our plot (about half a mile) takes an age as I try and drive through crowds of insanely drunk people. Still, the view from our plot is pretty special - we're about 10 yards from Mini Karussell. Even now, in the dark, when there's no racing, there's something bewitching about being so close to one of the world's greatest circuits. (SD)
Awesome run down from Calais for Stephen and I. Getting to the Nurburgring is just as quick as getting to Le Mans (about four and a half hours) and with far fewer law enforcement problems. Arriving at the 'Ring is amazing though: one mile from the circuit and you'd swear you'd come on the wrong weekend - there's no hint at all of anything going on. Then you arrive at the swanky new row of hotels and fun parks that's been built in the last year and there's no doubt that you're in the right place at the right time. The clue's in the swarms of people in bright anoraks and bad hair... (OM)
LIVE UPDATES AND IMAGES: Chris Harris/Porsche 911 GT3 RS
LIVE UPDATES AND IMAGES: Richard Meaden/Aston V12 Vantage
LIVE UPDATES AND IMAGES: Roger Green/Lotus Exige Cup 260
1998 -2002 Various one off outings in everything from Minis to Caterhams 2003 Radical Introsports champion 2004 Radical Prosport 3rd in championship 2005 Radical SR8 2nd in championship 2008 Westfield Aerorace champion, plus races in Porsche 962 and Britcar 24hr 2009 Lamborghini Super Trofeo championship, team mate to Andy Wallace 2010 Abarth Trofeo 500 GB and his first race at the Ring...