Phoenix Racing on Form in N24 Free Practice

by James Broomhead
The pair of Phoenix Audis swapped the lead of the session between themselves (Image Credit: ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours)

Phoenix Racing started the ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours weekend in fine style, with their pair of Audi R8 LMS ultra setting the two fastest times from the two hour free practice session to start off the Nordschleife running.

Fastest of all was the #4 entry shared between Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock, which lapped the 26km track in 8:24.237 in the closing minutes of the session. They had started off the session fastest, establishing an early benchmark of 8:28.330 which was – eventually beaten by their teammates in the #3 car.

The line-up that combines Marc Basseng, Frank Stippler, Marcel Fassler and Laurens Vanthoor moved the best time of the session down to 8:25.233, but had neither the pace, nor the time to mount a challenge upon the #4 team late in the session.

Before the #4 team retook the fastest time the #80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN GT-R NISMO GT3 briefly split the two Phoenix machines but the car to be shared between Nick Heidfeld, Florian Strauss, Lucas Ordonez and Alex Buncombe was demoted back to third by session’s end.

BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS’ #26 team (Bas Leinders, Markus Palttala, Nick Catsburg and Dirk Adorf) were the best of BMW team in fourth, their best effort am 8:29.855 ahead of the Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 (8:30.422). The G-Drive Racing Audi we sixth fastest on a best lap of 8:31.050 with BMW and Nissan teams filling the remainder of the top ten, Marc VDS #25 seventh while the pair of BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert Z4 GT3 sandwich the #30 Team RJN GT-R.

The Frikadelli Racing Team and Team Falken Tire Porsches were 15th and 16th the best of the marque’s representatives in a scaled back assault on the race.

Just one place better was Rowe Racing’s #22 team (Michael Zehe, Christian Hohenadal, Nico Bastian and Maro Engel) as the best of the Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 teams in a session that did not start well for the manufacturer which took its first N24 win last year.

The Black Falcon run #1 car crashed early on in the session, Andreas Simonsen suffering brake failure on the approach to the first corner and sailing across the gravel trap, making substantial contact with the waiting tyre barrier bringing the team’s involvement in the session to a very early end.

Though the tight confines and high speeds of the Nordschleife saw several minor accidents in the session the worst of the contact seemed to be on the Grand Prix track. Soon after the Black Falcon Merc had been pulled from the gravel #89 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 crashed at the same corner, the driver losing the car under braking for the tight right-hander, though the corner is eased slight as the 24 Hours meeting doesn’t use the Mercedes Arena that starts off a normal lap of the GP Strecke.

Contact with the barrier destroyed the front end of the Aston, it too being pulled behind the barrier.

SP9/GT3 cars filled the first 19 places in the session results, the first interloper the SP-Pro class Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA Code X with a best lap of 8:36.591.

The Kremer Racing entered #71 Porsche 997 GT3 KR set the pace in the all-Porsche SP7 class in 28th overall while the best teams from the SP4T and SP3T classes were 34th and 39th respectively, the better placed of the pair the Rotek Racing run Audi TTRS that counts Touring Car men Robb Holland and Rob Huff amongst its drivers.

STADAvita Racing Team were the best of the SP10/GT4 teams with their Vantage GT4, the manufacturer also leading the SP8 class in the session courtesy of the Aston Martin Test Centre entered V12 Vantage.

The Kissling Motorsport Opel Manta – adorned, as always, with foxtail – topped the SP3 class, 87th overall.

The Nurburgring 24 Hours running continues with the first qualifying session set to start at 6:45pm (local time) and run into the darkness until 11pm, allowing drivers to gain crucial experience of the Nordschleife by night.

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