Thursday – Practise
The main aim for us in Thursday afternoon free practise was merely to let Matt and Nik drive the car for the first time. This went fine, but confirmed we still had some serious suspension setup issues – that car bounces around a lot. The drivers were concerned that running the car for 24 hours would be very tiring, and potentially dangerous.
Thursday – Qualifying
We hoped to get all the drivers through – 2 timed laps each – in the evening qualifying session allowing us to save the car avoiding the Friday session. Both Mark and I did our laps, and while not happy with the suspension, we were qualified for the race.
Matt drove next and had a crash under braking for Aremberg. The car hit the armco – we all watched it live on TV – and while it looked like a big hit Matt was able to guide the car in sideways to spread the load of the impact.
This video features the crash at 6:32
Friday – Repairs
Brunswick Racing worked their hearts out on Thursday evening and into Friday. The damage initially looked like a wheel and some minor suspension, but turned out to include a drive-shaft, trailing arm, differential, and power steering.
The final step was in fact on Saturday morning – the car went to a local BMW specialist to check it over and give us a suspension setup we could work with.
Saturday – Race
Brunswick Racing completed the final preparations of the car having had the suspension tuned by the local specialist – the only opportunity we had to try it would be in the race itself.
I started the race and immediately it was obvious that the suspension was vastly improved over anything we had in the previous VLN races – running a 24 hour race with the previous setup would have been very tiring and potentially dangerous.
It was a pretty lively first lap – given the poor qualifying we were down near the back – and this meant that I was able to overtake several cars over the start line and down towards the first corner. There was a little bit of bumping and bashing between the cars but I think everyone got through OK.
All four drivers completed their first stints – and I went in, at about 22:30 for my second. Immediately on the first lap I felt a vibration under braking, though it did not seem too bad so I kept going to see if it would go away. On the start of the second lap I radio in to say that the brakes are still vibrating – and on the first part of the lap I started to notice a steering problem. By the time I got to Fuchsrohre that I had a front right puncture. From that point on I drove in the dark on the right hand side of the track with my right indicator on hoping that I would be able to get back to the pits.
The steering was difficult at times, on the left-handers, though I felt I could get back if I took it slowly. As I exited Bergwerk and headed up Kesselchen I realised how dark it really was and how the cars were coming past at significant speed. Approaching the left kink near post 129 I saw a pair of headlights coming to pass me on the left, and then suddenly I saw another pair of headlights moving very considerably faster to their right. I felt there was a significant chance of being hit – I applied as much throttle as I would and moved as far right as I could (in fact I should have jumped onto the grass) but I got hit very hard on the left rear – and that hit me across into the ARMCO. The fast moving car was a Porsche Cup and the car being overtaken was a VW Golf – all three cars seemed to be destroyed with no chance of restarting. The Porsche driver was taken to hospital, though did not seem too bad.
The marshals were fantastic – I’m not entirely sure I am brave enough to do what they do – so thank you to them!
Clearly there was no way of us continuing, which was bitterly disappointing for the whole team. So that leaves me having started 5 Nurburgring 24 hour races, and finished 4 – not a bad average in fact.
We have the whole race on video, but unfortunately are not allowed to put it up for public viewing.