By Michael Oellers
Nick’s debut at the legendary Nürburgring 24-Hours was ill-starred throughout the entire weekend. During the first qualifying session the Gemballa Racing Team’s McLaren piloted by Nick together with Klaus Ludwig, Sascha Bert and Hendrik Vieth developed engine trouble. This resulted in the engine and also the gearbox having to be exchanged so that the team subsequently was neither able to take part in the second qualifying session nor in the top-40 qualifying.
Thus Sascha Bert had to start the race from position 39. In an endurance race, though, a bad starting position is not necessarily a big disaster. The greatest disadvantage in this respect is having to thread one’s way through the traffic of slower cars on the track. Both Bert and Nick, taking over from him for the second stint, managed to do that quite well. They manoeuvred the #30 Gemballa McLaren through the field to as far as position 16, before Klaus Ludwig took over from Nick.
Then, after not even four hours of racing time, a situation occurred which in 24-hour races is likely to happen, with not rarely serious consequences: in the Schwedenkreuz Ludwig collided with a Seat Leon Supercoppa when he tried to lap it. Ludwig’s car spun round and crashed into the side barrier, same as the Seat. Both drivers were thankfully uninjured, though the Gemballa McLaren was not roadworthy any longer which meant the end of the race for Nick’s team.
“That was a bit too short, then. We had planned to finish the race. But in a 24-hour race with so many starters that’s easier said than done” Nick said shortly after the accident and shaking his head in disappointment he added: “We’d only four hours to show our mettle, with me just able to drive seven laps. It’s a shame. But there you are, shit happens!”
Nick was rather satisfied with his first and only stint in the race: “I managed quite well. It was obvious that we could not quite keep up with the leaders. The car did not perform as well as it did on Thursday. If you miss out on parts of the training and qualifying you can’t really get down to the fine tuning.”
The overall result was that after completing 24 hours and 155 laps of the course the Audi Sports Team Phoenix #3 with Basseng, Haase, Stippler, and Winkelhock at the controls won, followed by the Audi-R8 LMS Ultra #26 of Mamerow Racing and the Mercedes Benz SLS AMG #66 of the Hankook Team Heico. The detailed results and more news concerning the race you will be able to get from the 24-hour Race homepage.