2011 Nurburgring 24-hour live race report
evo's live 2011 Nurburgring 24 hour race report, a blog feed with the latest race news and pictures
All the latest news, pictures and race reporting courtesy of evo staff writer Stephen Dobie. Find out the race latest alongside the progress of evo staff racing this year: John Barker in an Audi R8, Chris Harris in a Porsche 911 GT3 and Richard Meaden in an Aston Martin V12 Zagato.
Latest blog update at the top, so scroll down for older entries. Time is local to the Nurburgring.
18.14 Sadly having to call time on a cracking weekend. Thanks for following the race and our drivers on here, and click here for the final bit, part 6, of our video blog. It's from the post-race, booze-filled pit lane.
Come back to evo.co.uk tomorrow for a race roundup and a gallery of images from before, during and after the race. Same time next year?!
17.35 Chatted to the evo boys after the race.
John - 'That was such hard work, mentally rather than physically. The R8 is easy to drive controls wise, they're all well weighted. But to make that car work you have to drive it right on its limit - though not beyond it! My four stints were good though, no mistakes which is important. I've driven a big car at the Ring now. I'm happy.'
Chris - 'I'm shattered! My double stint during the graveyard hours was hard. That car has done three N24s now and I badly wanted it to finish one, which it's now done. Will I be back next year? I don't know! I've done a few of these now and I love it. Driving around this place as the sun rises is a real privilege.'
Richard - 'It's a bit disappointing to have suffered for something like someone pulling out of the pits on us but we've made it to the end. That was hard work but I enjoyed my time in the car. Hopefully I can come back next year and have better luck!'
17.19 The Manthey Porsche wrapped things up at the front of the grid, and I was among the gang as 4pm struck and champagne covered everyone. Trying to write this in the Porsche lounge now as lots of endless clapping and cheering takes place.
17.17 Back from the pits after one heck of a celebration from just about everyone. The sense of relief, elation and achievement from each and every team is immense. And a good chunk of it came from our drivers. John Barker drove four great stints in his Audi R8 LMS, Chris Harris did a scary-sounding double night stint and helped take a 911 Cup car into the top 20 while Richard Meaden and his Aston Martin team powered through the disappointment of a blameless crash and ensuing damage to take sixth in class. Top, top effort by the three of them. Well done.
15.33 Less than half an hour to go. Farnbacher Ferrari looking like it will finish in 8th - a 60 place climb on earlier. Going to bomb down to the pit lane for race end and some more video, so see you all on the other side...
15.14 The Opel Manta's still running! In 145th! This makes me happy.
14.49 Latest video is this way. TV screen in media lounge has just shown a Lexus LFA conk out with 1h14m to go. Heart goes out to teams when that happens. Hope the luck stays with our boys. Scores on the doors? It's as you were at 13.04, with 2 laps separating the Audi and Porsche and the Aston up to 123rd (7th in class SP8).
14.21 Busy processing some videos from last night and this morning, which will load onto the video blog feed. Real shame the race ends soon - the first 15 or so hours feels like 15 or so hours. The final stretch just flies. Maybe not for the drivers, but for spectators like me, I just want it to keep on going.
13.04 Bit of a break in the live feed, I admit. But a drive home later today in the boss's new 1-series M Coupe long termer means I checked into a bed for a small amount of time. Suitably refreshed - and gutted there's less than 3 hours to go - I'm back doing some 'real' work. Latest news? Audi 20th (JB's just got out of it), Porsche 21st, Aston 128th. Manthey Porsche leads the race, last year's winning M3 is 2nd, the comeback king Farnbacher Ferrari is 10th. Amazing stuff. And having heard more about the woes Dickie's Aston has faced, that position in the standings is no bad thing. A finish will be a tremendous achievement.
7.00 News on the evo cars - John's Audi is in 20th place, Chris's Porsche 22nd (and third in class) while Richard's Aston Martin is down in 132nd after extensive repairs needed to be carried out following contact. In the words of Aston: 'After another competitor made contact with the number 5 V12 Zagato (‘Zig’) during the night, the team worked feverishly to fix a broken steering arm. Once the arm was repaired Peter Cate returned to the track, but it soon became evident that damage from the earlier contact was more deep rooted. The lateral impact caused the engine mounts to snap requiring the difficult job of replacing the bolts without the removal of the engine. The car returned to the circuit at 08.00 with reports of the car running perfectly again and is sitting 7th in class.'
Meanwhile, the Ferrari that dropped from 1st to 68th is now 11th. Wow.
6.53 Back from a long old trek around some the circuit's best viewing spots, walking from Pflanzgarten to Karussel and plonking myself there from around 3am past sunrise. A 'go anywhere even if it's really dangerous' photography tabard got me past the fences and just tucked behind the armco at Karussell, watching the glowing brake discs, sparks from grounded splitters and the different approaches to the corner depending on car. The Ferrari 458 Italia that led the race earlier takes the outside line and doesn't even flirt with Karussel's steep inside.
Lots of meeting mad people in the woods too, including one guy with a chainsaw. Obviously. Lots of sofas dragged out and makeshift living rooms set up in the wilderness. Stuff like this totally sets N24 apart from Le Mans - the amount of people who make a week of this and live in mock towns in the forests is staggering. Really want to come one year and camp with them. Would be an experience!
00.10 I've been doing some video nonsense too. Second part of my video blog, live from the Aston Martin pitlane, about to go live. I eat some sweets in it. Click here to see it.
00.03 I'm off to do my own kind of midnight shift shortly, though. Getting taxied to Pflanzgarten for a walk up to Karussell and back. Based on last year's experience, it'll take a number of hours, in complete darkness (mobile phone screen = torch) and surrounded by the people who make this race special - the slightly nuts Germans who've spent the last week living by the circuit, partying hard and treating this like a music festival without the bands. And Karussell at around 3am is a very, very cool place. Sparks from grounded front splitters, glowing brake discs and wailing V8s, V10s and V12s with nothing but a few trees to water down their sound. Can't wait.
23.55 So, bit of a screen break. And a jolly good fun one. Spent most of it in the pits, which is an encounter I managed to miss when I came here last year. Not again - it's a fascinating place to be, even if it's impossible to avoid the wrath of some mechanics by using a media pass to dance around them as they carry out vital work on their driver's car. It's constantly busy, and there's so much stuff in various states of disrepair. Dishevelled cars being worked on to save their very race or slickly timed pit stops by the big money manufacturers. Spoke to Meaden just before he went out for his second stint around 11pm. He was about a million times calmer than I would be heading out to do a midnight shift in the pitch black.
20.46 Porsche mechanics now beavering away on the 911 Hybrid (currently down to 8th). Hopefully a quick fix. In more positive news, the Ferrari 458 has just emerged from the pitlane. Only 58 places to move up to restore its first place. Bring on the comeback!
20.38 Hybrid Porsche 911 leading was leading but now on a go-slow and being passed by lots of stuff. Hopefully not a race-ending issue like last year. Farnbacher Ferrari hit serious trouble and now down in 47th. Annoyingly hard to find out why in the media lounge. Off out to track shortly to see what's happening first hand I reckon! Gonna try visit some of our guys in the pits too, providing they've not snuck off for some sleep.
19.51 An Audi hot air balloon is about to take off outside, it looks like. Surely the most civilised way of viewing some N24 action?
19.48 John's doing well. R8 number 28 still around a minute but now just one place away from our other cars, the Aston in 33rd and the Porsche in 34th. In other news, we just saw a BMW have a massive off on screen in the media centre, the car looked like it went over the armco. No replays though and haven't heard or seen any more. Hope all's okay.
18.56 One of the biggest battles, of course, is me versus tiredness. Less than three hours in and there's already been some yawning. Some really odd but usefully sugary cakes in the Porsche media centre are helping.
18.55 The all-star Golf GTI is now running in 28th place while the top three is Farnbacher Ferrari, no.9 Manthey Porsche and no.30 ROWE Racing Merc SLS AMG. Last year's winning M3 down to sixth place. Still no rain.
18.51 Gap between the evo cars stretching out now, rather inevitably. 33rd place - Harris Porsche, 34th place (6.8sec gap) - Meaden Aston, 38th place (c1min gap) Barker Audi. And JB is heading out in his R8 in less than 10 mins. You've a couple of cars to reel in, John...
18.19 Slightly amazing update - the evo cars are currently no.56 Porsche 911 (Harris) in 44th, no.28 Audi R8 (Barker) 45th and no.5 Aston Zagato (Meaden) 46th, the trio separated by less then five seconds. While they aren't all driven by us lot at this moment in time, it's an incredibly close state of affairs for office bets. Meaden's getting all the cakes in next week as it stands.
18.02 Weather update... Track drying out quite nicely, sky not quite as grey and gloomy. Of course now I've said that, it'll probably chuck it down. I've borrowed some umbrellas from Porsche to cover up our lovely camera gear, though.
17.54 Picture gallery from my grid antics earlier (including first day at school-style photos of the evo drivers) is here. While I was uploading all of that, lots has happened in the race. The Farnbacher Ferrari is back in the lead, with last year's winning M3 team in second and the previous leader, no.7 M3, a smidge of a second behind it. The Black Falcon Merc SLS AMG is in fourth, Manthey's Porsche 911 in fifth. Harris is now out in his 911 (still 50th, 1 place ahead of the Zagato) while the number 29 Audi R8 that shares pit space with our JB's looks to be out of it after a big smash. The Herbert/Blundell Golf GTI is in 30th.
17.12 Weather deserves a mention too. Has peed it down all day, stopping a couple of hours before the race (just in time for our grid walk) but the clouds have threatened since. 30 degree dryness forecast for tomorrow, but at the moment everything is grey, cloudy and difficult to predict. Those making the call on which tyres to use face an unenviable quandry.
17.08 John Barker's Audi R8 is in 38th place, while Harris's Porsche 911 is in 51st and Meaden's Aston Zagato in 52nd. They are separated by 1sec. All three yet to drive, though, with Chris in the car in 20 mins and John driving his first stint from 7pm to 8.30pm. No word from Dickie on his stints yet.
16.58 M3 still leads. M3 won it last year too, remember. Driving out here in a BMW and picking up my free goodie bag earlier (including a big BM flag) could end up being a smart move. Still, 23 hours and 2 minutes to go...
16.52 How eclectic the N24 grid is never ceases to amaze. Top 50 cars a mix of the best modern supercar stuff - SLS, 911, 458 et al - while the rest of the pack ranges from Renault Clio 200, Seat Leon and Subaru WRX STI to late 90s mk4 Astra and Golf and even an Opel Manta!
16.30 Grid walk was crazy. Gallery of images to follow on website shortly. Race began at 4pm after what's been a genuinely exciting day of build up. Think Harris is right when he says this is the best race motorsport has to offer at the moment. Half an hour in, the Farnbacher Ferrari 458 that started on pole is down in fourth, the BMW M3 GT of Lamy / Müller / Werner / Ador leads by 7.0sec.
14.09 Just under two hours 'til the race begins. The grid of 200-ish cars is assembling now, with thousands of people teaming around the cars. And evo videographer Sam Riley and I are about to join them. Back in a bit with photos and chatter from one of the world's biggest grids...
14.01 Just got back from a tour of evo's drivers' pits.
Dickie Meaden in his Aston Martin V12 Zagato - 'I love driving here and it's such a great race for non-professional drivers like us. The car is great, it maybe doesn't handle as well as the V12 Vantage last year but it's really quick. A V12 in a race like this feels special.'
John Barker in his Audi R8 LMS - 'It's a proper thing this! Totally different to the Scirocco I raced here a couple of years ago. You really have to plug in to it, drive with your head as much as the seat of your pants. The tyres need to be warm for it to work, so if you're not pushing hard enough there's a light on the dashboard that lets you know you're driving like a wuss! The N24 is great though - it's the car equivalent of the Isle of Man TT'.
Chris Harris in his Porsche GT3 Cup car - 'It's the best race in the world right now, the N24. Where else can a bunch of mates like us race against our motorsport heroes, on the same track, at the same time. The car is great too. These things were really on the pace a few years ago and we didn't have much hope of a top 30 qualifying place, but we aren't far off. We've made some mods too so it rides like a streetcar and will be great round here. This car's competed here before and not finished; we're aiming to make the end.'
12.18 At the Ring, having spent the morning negotiating a broken laptop. Nicked someone else's for a bit so updating can begin! It's cold and peeing it down here, and just spoke to Chris Harris before his 911 Carrera Cup race. He wasn't nervous, but aware the conditions are far from great for big grid racing. Plenty of offs in this Porsche race so far! A nice preview of how hectic the big race is going to be when it kicks off in a few hours. Unlikely the sun's going to break through soon. Off to see Dickie Meaden at Aston now (he was having a massage when we went to see him earlier. Really...) and then try and grab Harris post-Porsche race.