McLaren Marker Holds Up, Aston Squad Leave it Late

by James Broomhead
Stefan Mucke moved the Aston into the shootout in the final minutes (Image Credit: Tom Loomes)

Dorr Motorsport’s Saturday night time held firm to take the fastest lap from the two qualifying sessions for the ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours. However, the main interest in the two hour session was provided by the battle to take a place in the afternoon’s top-30 qualifying shootout.

Overnight and morning rain gave the 160+ teams entered for the race a wet track to begin with, with early laps subsequently the high side of the ten minute mark while the Dorr McLaren MP4-12C’s 8:18.513 sat loftily as the provisional pole time. However, as the track dried the times came down until the best of the morning’s times were slotting into the top ten overall.

The best lap of the session went to the #10 Prosperia-Abt Racing team (Christopher Mies, Christer Joens, Niclas Kentenich and Dominik Schwager) who moved up from their overnight 18th fastest slot into fifth place with an 8:24.023. Another to move into the top ten was the Frikadelli Racing Team Porsche (Klaus Abbelen, Sabine Schmidt, Patrick Huisman and Patrick Pilet) who moved into eight position with a best lap around the Nordschleife of 8:25.933.

Both of those teams, however, started the N24 festivities guaranteed of a place in the two lap, top-30 shootout on Friday evening. With 19 places already given out for performances in the VLN races and the N24 Qualifying Race 11 spots remained to be taken.

Moving into the session the last of the teams occupying a transfer spot was Manthey Racing’s #12 SP9 team who set the target of 8:37.419.

While the track was wet that time remained out of reach, but the improving conditions brought them within reach of some of the faster GT3 team in the final half hour of the session.

They lost their place in the shootout to the #23 Rowe Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 shared by Klaus Graf, Jan Seyffarth, Thomas Jaeger and Richard Goransson who moved into the top 20 overall setting a time of 8:29.349 to leave the Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA Code X perched in the final transfer spot.

The SP-Pro class team did what they could to present a moving target to those behind, trimming two tenths from their best time, moving ahead of the Wochenspiegel Team Manthey car that presents their only class competitor. That seemed to have secured their place in the qualifying finale until the final minutes of the session.

Naturally as track conditions improved the first teams to better their Saturday night times were those who had hit trouble in that session. Thus the #1 Black Falcon Mercedes – the team still fighting back from a heavy off in free practice – and Aston Martin Racing team – the #7 Vantage GT3 having missed some of Saturday evening’s dry running with mechanical problems – were among the first to start to climb up the overall order, creeping into the bottom of the top 40 as a dry line started to be burnt round the circuit.

For the Black Falcon team only pride and preparation was on the line, the team being among the first to have claimed their top-30 slot in the first VLN event of the season. In the Aston squad, however, a flying lap needed to better the LFA Code X in order to move into the shootout.

Through the final three-quarters of an hour they crept closer. 8:57 was improved to 8:45 before an 8:35.190 crept into the top 30 ahead of the SP-Pro Lexus with seven minutes of the session remaining. The #1 entry also improved late on to an 8:37.839, the repaired car 31st fastest overall.

Dorr Motorsport's McLaren remained fastest overall throughout the session (Image Credit: Tom Loomes)

Dorr Motorsport’s McLaren remained fastest overall throughout the session (Image Credit: Tom Loomes)

“We are very satisfied,” said Arno Klasen of the provisional pole sitting McLaren. “The weather has helped us, because today nobody could drive faster than us. Our primary goal was to qualify for the top 30 qualifying, so yesterday we immediately went for a fast lap. The plan worked. Now we have used the time to test set-up settings. Our goal for the shootout is a top 10 place which Rudi Adams will go after.” Klasen and Adams are joined by Sebastian Asch and Alvaro Parente in the car.

Though the LFA Code X’s lap was the faster of the two SP-Pro cars across the two sessions it will start behind its only class rival, the Manthey Porsche having booked a top-30 place from previous VLN outings. Only they and Gazoo Racing’s ‘normal’ LFA, which runs in the SP8 class were able to break the SP9 class domination of the shootout places

In the lower classes the Kremer Racing team’s 8:41.030 stood firm to take SP7 pole position. However, in both SP3T and SP4T classes possession of the class pole changed hands, Raeder Motorsport’s #111 Audi TT RS 2.0 taking the SP3T top spot while the Anglo-American line-up in American-German based Rotek Racing Audi TTRS were able to leap frog from second in class overnight to class pole in SP4T.

However, attention now turns to the top-30 shootout, with each qualifying team given two flying laps around the Nordschleife, the best of which will count towards setting the first 15 rows for the start of the race. The shootout is scheduled to begin at 5:10pm local time.

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