Hello MotorMavens! A quick introduction before I tell you about our recent journey over to Germany. My name is Jordan Butters and I am Editor of Drifted.com.
I was recently chatting with Antonio Alvendia about a trip I took to the Nürburgring on behalf of Falken Tyres Europe and the Team Falken UK drift team and he kindly allowed me to show you my shots and experience of the N24 Race here on MotorMavens.
Antonio and the MotorMavens Crew were some of the first people that we spoke to when starting up Drifted a couple of years ago and it’s pretty cool that we can work alongside each other in bringing you the best automotive coverage. Make love not war, blondes not bombs, brunettes not fighter jets, etc, etc.
So, I and the Team Falken UK drift team were over at the world famous Nürburgring, AKA “The Green Hell’ in Germany for a series of drift demos and passenger runs at the Falken-sponsored N24 Race – a grueling 24 hour endurance race around the longest configuration of the most notorious race track on the planet.
A perk of being over for the event meant that we got to enjoy the spectacle that is the N24 from start to finish – bar a few hours. Our drift demos fitted in nicely around the competition as well.
Falken was debuting their new Porsche 911 GT3 R at the event.
The car is a feat of engineering and is powered by a 4.0-liter six-cylinder, naturally-aspirated boxer engine that produces 480 horsepower at 7,250 rpm! I should think you’re wondering why there are no pictures of the full car here. As much as I like tight crops, this is the reason…….
….the grid was slightly busy to say the least! Pre-race the grid is opened up and the public can wander to their content and get close to the cars and drivers. I really liked this personal touch and was surprised that such a large and prestigious event did this. And I’m sure the fans appreciated it!
Despite the open grid nature there is still a hive of activity with lots of serious faces on people wearing Falken jackets and lots of phone calls and headset-chatter too! The track was damp but the skies showed signs of clearing, so decisions were being made on which tyres to start on.
I noticed this map attached to the inside of the driver’s door. It’s always good to know which way to go, especially at night on a circuit 25k long. I guess sat-nav isn’t allowed?
Being a petrol-head through and through, I found it fascinating to walk the pits and grid as the drivers and teams got ready for the race. Team Falken UK drivers Paul, Matt and Alan were right behind me right? Err……no. Whilst I got rained on, they enjoyed the plush all inclusive VIP hospitality that Falken put on for guests in the Mercedes stand. Complete with a view of Turn 1 and multiple screens showing the race from all angles.
Down on the grid I spotted a few familiar faces, DJ Miki Taka from Formula Drift fame was accompanying the Need For Speed BMW Z4 along with Speedhunter Rod Chong.
The Need For Speed Z4 was looking good on the grid. Sadly, later on in the race, it was involved in a fairly hefty collision – pretty much totaling the chassis.
Thankfully no-one was seriously injured. Team NFS driver Tommy Milner is shown above.
The promo girls from Dörr Motorsport put on a smile for the cameras.
Lina Van de Mars (centre) was at the N24 on behalf of Falken and she’s also a big drift fan. She is a huge TV personality in Germany. She’s also a really cool person and she joined us in hospitality over the weekend.
As the grid was cleared off of the public, I used my Press pass to full advantage to get some shots in of the cars as they were ready to launch.
The buzz in the air is unreal and the anticipation on everyone’s faces is noticeable. This is the last time these cars, drivers and teams will rest for the next 24 hours.
Suddenly, the pit lane feels as busy as the grid was. Everyone floods back in, ready for the rolling start.
As the cars parade their first lap, eager eyes watch screens on the pit walls. Fans track-side launch fireworks and flares skyward. Electricity fills the air.
The sound of engines starts to resonate down the finish straight and we’re racing. The next 24 hours will be the most intense these drivers will experience all season. The Green Hell doesn’t take prisoners.
We head back to the drift paddock and grab some seat time as the passenger rides start.
There was a small area set out for the passenger rides and those rides were slow-speed but provided plenty of action for the crowd to see.
Lennard Wander smokes it up the rise before the track exit.
The Falken guests arrived by the bus-load. I don’t think some of them quite knew what to expect from their ride! I pointed my camera at this guy for a solid minute at the start line waiting for a smile. It didn’t arrive.
The nerves soon eased up and the drivers did their best to entertain the guests and give them an experience they wouldn’t forget!
Remmo Niezen‘s wide E30 is powered by a 500+bhp BMW V8!
Whereas Lars Verbraeken’s features a tuned 1JZ mounted right back behind the front suspension turrets and through the firewall for optimal weight distribution. The cooling system including radiator has been relocated to the boot of the E30 to make way for a huge v-mount intercooler setup. Meanwhile, out on the Nordschleife….
…the Falken 911 GT3 R was lapping fast! Unfortunately it was hampered during the race by an engine failure and then a gearbox fault – meaning there were two separate major pit-stops to replace engine and box. This left them in 176th position upon re-entering the race at 10pm on the Saturday night!
But, after a stellar effort from drivers and team, they climbed an incredible 128 places and finished in 48th position!
The night racing was amazing to watch. Something every automotive fan should experience.
The ‘Ring is a hive of activity into the night – no one seems to sleep!
The hardcore fans are pretty crazy! Yes, that is indeed a man launching fireworks from his mouth!
The Team Falken guys were all just pretty awe-inspired – left, right and centre. Antonio brings you photos of exotic models – I bring you photos of strange European men.
Whilst the team retired to hospitality (again), I hit the pits. I didn’t really know any familiar faces so I just wandered about trying not to get run over.
Which was harder than it sounded. The speed and ferocity at which the cars left the pits was pretty intense! In the way or not, they were leaving!
Driver changes were a bit more sedate. The new driver is taking time to strap himself in and get ‘comfy’ whilst the crew change tyres, check levels and top-up and perform routine maintenance.
Everyone has their job – each is practiced and choreographed to intersect seamlessly.
When racing for a day and a night, reliability is king.
And can be the difference between winning and losing.
Teams are kept busy into the night. Every individual is a vital cog in keeping the wheels turning.
Back in the hospitality section, the N24 party was in full flow! Whilst I was out in the cold taking photos the Jaegermeister stock had been severely depleted!
Out on the circuit, the bright headlamps pierce the darkness. Above, a custom built Ferrari P4/5 Competizione is revealed by a chasing competitor.
Your senses are heightened and energy is illustrated by illumination.
Brakes glow red hot – exhausts (and turbos on the 911) light up the track beneath.
The ‘tribunes’ are a kinda spooky place to be at 4am. People litter them scattered about, some asleep, some awake. There’s something ‘Night of the Living Dead Race Fan’ to it.
At 5am we find a fire and settle in for a nightcap. It’s been a long day just being here – I can’t fathom what the drivers are experiencing right now.
We decide to try and get some sleep just as the sky begins to light at sunrise. The N24 has us beat.
Many thanks to the guys over at Falken Tyre Europe and Falken Motorsports for their hospitality over the weekend! Team Falken UK can be seen in action at the British Drift Championship rounds throughout 2011!
:: Jordan Butters