Kiwis tackle Germany’s Green Hell
LEGIONS OF FANS WILL CAMP ON FORESTED HILLS BESIDE THE CHALLENGING TRACK
Three old-school Kiwi racers are heading for the “Green Hell” this weekend. Wayne Moore, Maurice O’Reilly and Michael Eden will contest the Nurburgring 24-Hour race, an annual touring car and GT endurance event in Germany.
Held since 1970, more than 200 cars and 700 drivers participate.
The race attracts considerable interest from the world’s sports car manufacturers.
Kiwi Richie Stanaway is also entered in an Aston Martin GT3.
Moore and Co’s car is a far cry from the one he first raced 17 years ago.
He started in a Volkswagen-supported team with cars ranging from a 1.4-litre Polo to 2-litre touring cars and very rapid Golf and Bora turbo-diesels.
This year, the three New Zealanders are with Dane Niels Borum in his 3-litre bi-turbo BMW 335i E92 in class SP8T.
This is a new car for the team and much quicker than anything they have previously driven in the race.
“It will be very exciting having more power,” Moore said from Nurburgring. “The Nordschleife has a strong addiction for me and I feel almost like a pilgrim each year.
“We’ve won our class twice, once in a 2-litre touring car and once in a diesel Golf, and it would be nice to add a third winner’s trophy to the cabinet.
“I’ve raced here since 1994 and am probably the most prolific starter in the 24-Hour race outside German nationals.
“The event attracts an enormous crowd of dedicated fans who often number 250,000 and create an amazing spectacle as they camp on the forested hills beside the racetrack.
“It’s an added challenge driving past the smell of a good steak. Add fog and rain to the smoke, crashes, and other racetrack incidents and the challenge of completing consistent laps, lap after lap, is also addictive.”
One of Moore’s co-drivers, O’Reilly, an accomplished endurance driver who has raced at Le Mans and other big events, is Stanaway’s manager.
“It will be the first time Richie and I have raced in the same event,” O’Reilly said.
“I’ve told him to watch out for me coming through.
“With regard to the Nurburgring, Wayne is the master, having done 20 years racing there. “It’s my 17th year there but I have also done many other 24-hour races so I bring a lot of experience to the team.
“We’ve raced together for about 10 years and this year we’re in the SP8 class, which is a formidable category and one of the top groups.
“We’re a pretty settled team now. We like driving with Niels and he likes driving with New Zealanders.”
Motorsport’s ring of fire
The Nordschleife (north loop) of the Nurburgring track through the Eifel mountains in west Germany is one of the most demanding 20.9km of tarmac a driver could face. The addition of the modern Formula One circuit pushes each lap to 25.3km.
Sir Jackie Stewart gave the circuit its nickname after beating championship rival Graham Hill by four minutes in rain, fog and sleet in the 1968 German Grand Prix.
Niki Lauda almost lost his life in a fiery 1976 crash. Formula One deemed the twisting, mountainous, largely tree-lined track too dangerous and cancelled it. But it returned when the circuit was rebuilt in 1985.
This year, cars with increased downforce, mechanical grip and horsepower have led organisers to impose 200km/h and 250km/h speed limits on parts of the circuit. This decision followed a crash during a German endurance series race in March when a spectator was killed.
It also stipulated drivers must have a two-hour rest after three hours behind the wheel.