Incident-packed 24-hours for Aston Martin at the Nurburgring

An extraordinary 35th running of the ADAC Nurburgring 24-hour race has finally concluded -- two hours later than originally scheduled -- with all three Aston Martin Vantage N24s coming through a remarkable race in the SP8 class.

The number 8 Vantage N24 with Aston Martin Chief Executive, Dr Ulrich Bez leading the driver line up finished 9th in class (126th overall) after two long unscheduled stops caused by a damaged electrical connector. The number 9 Vantage N24 finished 7th (93rd overall) after a two and a half hour unscheduled pit stop to change a broken engine mount.

Marking its 24-hour race debut, the third Vantage N24 from Herreman Racing -- one of the first customer N24s to race competitively -- put in a stirring performance to take 4th in class (62nd overall).

The Phoenix Racing/Aston Martin Austria DBRS9 had registered an exceptional performance in its first ever 24-hour race, until misfortune struck shortly before the 19-hour mark when it retired experiencing an oil pressure problem. The car had been running 4th overall and 2nd in class.

Dr Ulrich Bez said: "We were very clear that we wanted to come here and finish. Obviously we are disappointed that the DBRS9 did not make the finish but the car has shown exceptional pace against competitors that have honed their performance here for many years.

"As for the N24s, we have learned a lot more about the car. At the speeds we have been travelling we have pushed the production car to the maximum and it will show us how we can improve the car still further."

Yesterday, torrential rainfall prompted a two-hour delay at the start of the race as more than 200 competitors were forced to wait on the grid while conditions improved and the race finally got underway shortly before 5pm EST. A further five-hour delay followed over night as the race was red-flagged at 4am EST.

Aston Martin's Head of Product Communications & Motorsport, David King said: "It was a race fraught with incident and drama and a massive challenge for all of us.

"Ultimately though, that is the point of being here, it is the greatest possible test for the car and team and the experience is invaluable to all of us.

"Special congratulations should go to the Herreman Racing team who were very impressive throughout. They had a steady race plan which worked perfectly and this marks a fine debut for their Vantage N24."

Yesterday, the Phoenix Racing/Aston Martin Austria DBRS9 had made a sensational start to the race, with driver Klaus Ludwig moving from 4th on the grid to snatch the overall lead into the first corner which he held for the remainder of his stint.

Joining Dr Bez in the number 8 Vantage N24, were Chris Porritt, Wolfgang Schuhbauer and Horst von Saurma, who spoke after his second stint: "Initially I had good weather, and every lap I was improving on the last lap, my fastest was nine minutes 50 seconds. Then toward the end of my stint, I had heavy rain, and there were a lot of accidents. I was lucky that I could pit quickly to change my tyres to the wet compound."

The sister Vantage N24 endured an equally incident-packed 24-hour race, losing time to a damaged engine mount. The required complex repair took over two hours as the Aston Martin team worked tirelessly in intense conditions to allow drivers Stephane Lemeret, Oliver Mathai, Richard Meaden and Ulrich Schodel to return the car to the race.

On completing a second stint in the car, Schodel said: "I think the car is very good. It fits like a glove, and can use the power very well. It behaves very nicely. I think it is an excellent car for the Nurburgring and for those new to racing."

Co-driver Meaden added: "The car felt really good after the team fixed the engine mount problem -- I had complete confidence in the car. I loved it and the restart stint was great fun, I was going faster with every lap.

"It might not be quite the fairytale that the team had last year, but it was so rewarding to see the guys get the car back out, and for them not to throw the towel in. Even the lows here are still exciting and interesting."

In concluding, David King added: "The team have been excellent -- they've been professional throughout and adapted to constantly changing conditions. The race presented enough challenges for several races. Without the unscheduled delays, both our N24s ran a pace that would have seen a comfortable top 20 overall finish. The team should be very proud of their performance."

-credit: amr