In ABT Sportsline’s history in the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife that began in 1999 a new chapter is now being opened. The race team from the Allgäu is fielding two Continental GT3 cars for Bentley Motorsport on the world’s longest and most challenging race track. The two factory-backed vehicles fielded by Bentley Team ABT will be pitted against more than 150 competing cars in the race twice around the clock. RTL Nitro will be airing nearly 26 hours of live reports and RTL will join the broadcast during its Formula One coverage.
Three dozen vehicles alone are numbering among the group of candidates for victory this year – most of them GT3 racing cars such as the Bentley. They form the SP9 class in the 24-hour race. ”Competition at the front of the field is enormous once more. The organiser is even talking about the highest-calibre field in history,” says Christian Abt, team boss of Bentley Team ABT. “Looking at the times set in previous VLN rounds, I’m firmly assuming that we’re going to see another sprint race across 24 hours this year. Our strengths in this competition are the reliability of the Bentley Continental GT3, which the car proved in the preparation races, and its good driveability. In addition, we have a strong driver squad with plenty of Nordschleife and endurance racing expertise.”
Brian Gush, Motorsport Director at Bentley, knows as well that the tradition-steeped circuit that was inaugurated in 1927 should not be underrated: “The Nürburgring Nordschleife is renowned for being the toughest race track in the world and that’s why we test all of our road cars there too, covering thousands of kilometres development phase. Add changing weather conditions, darkness, high speeds and approximately 160 cars, and you can see how this track plays host to the most challenging race in the world – that’s what drives Bentley’s desire for success at Nürburgring 24 Hours. The VLN races have gone well for us but there is a huge difference between a four-hour and 24-hour race. We know we have a good car, strong line-up and experienced team – but at this race, you also need a healthy quantity of luck. We’ll be fighting from the very first minute.”
The number 37 white-grey Continental GT3 of Bentley Team ABT will be chased across the 25.378-kilometre roller coaster by Christer Jöns (D, 28), Steven Kane (GB, 35), Marco Holzer (D, 27) and Christopher Brück (D, 31).
Car number 38 will be piloted by Christopher Brück, who will be driving both cars, Christian Menzel (D, 44), who was part of the ABT Nordschleife family as far back as in 1999, Le Mans winner Guy Smith (GB, 31) and youngster Fabian Hamprecht (D, 20). The car sports the striking yellow wrap of the team’s new partner Deutsche Post, which makes it an effective eye-catcher for the fans.
“A top 5 result in this motorsport highlight with its large and strong field would definitely be a tremendous success,” says ‘double driver’ Christopher Brück. “However, to achieve it, we can’t afford to make even the slightest mistake, have to be consistently quick and have racing luck on our side. Because in the Nordschleife races this year we saw how strong our competitors from BMW, Audi, Porsche and Mercedes are,” the driver from Cologne adds.
Guy Smith, who alongside Steven Kane is one of the two factory drivers in the 24-hour line-up of Bentley Team ABT, is another contender who knows that this is no mean feat: “This will only be Bentley’s second race on the Nordschleife, which is the home track of many German manufacturers. I’m sure it’s not going to be easy for us. But our car is very reliable and will do a good job of handling the blows the Nordschleife is going to deal out during the 24 hours. If we can keep our pace throughout, a good result should be possible.”
The race weekend for which more than 200,000 spectators are expected will begin for Bentley Team ABT on Wednesday, 25 May, with the squad’s participation in the racing car parade on Adenauer Racing Day. On Thursday (26 May) free practice (starting at 15:45) and night qualifying (starting at 20:00) will follow. After the second qualifying session on Friday morning (27 May, starting at 09:30) the cars that managed the leap into the top 30 qualifying will have been determined. Thanks to a strong showing by Christer Jöns in the VLN season opener the #37 ABT Bentley #37 has already qualified for the session in which the top 30 grid positions will be awarded.
On Saturday (28 May) the impressive field will start a formation lap at 15:10, followed by the race start at 15:30. 24 hours later the winner of the 44th running of the classic endurance race will have been determined.
The battle of the two Continental GT cars of Bentley Team ABT against the fierce competition can be comprehensively watched by racing fans in record length thanks to live coverage. RTL Nitro will constantly be on the air from the ‘Green Hell’ from Saturday, 15:00 (CEST) until Sunday, 16:50. In addition, RTL will be joining the start and finish of the 24-hour race from the Formula One race in Monaco.
Furthermore, on-board live streaming from car number 37 during all qualifying sessions and the race will be accessible on YouTube via the following link: http://bit.ly/25b8SDs
This article was written by charles