Last weekend, British racing driver Adam Christodoulou returned to Germany to take on the challenge of the Nürburgring to compete in the notorious annual 24-hour endurance race.
Arriving on Wednesday, the queues to main entrance were over five miles long, with over 250,000 spectators expected to attend the race which would start on Saturday afternoon. With just short of 250 cars racing at once, the weekend promised non-stop action.
Partnered with Tim Mullen, Phil Quaife and Andreas Montmann in a BMW GT4, Christodoulou began qualifying in what could have been wet conditions, but despite the looming clouds the rain held off, and he managed to post a class-topping lap time of 9:18.4. This also put the team ahead of Darren Turner's Aston Martin N24, and Guy Smith's Nissan 370Z, spotted in 56th place overall, and it was decided that due to the good grid position, participating in Qualifying 2 was an unnecessary risk.
The grid was packed for the race start, and with a 25 minute car-push to the end of the pits, the build up to the 4pm start left the atmosphere electric.
For the first time in Christodoulou's racing experience at Nürburgring, the 25.3Km track was wet and set to be slippery, with a handful of Porsche World Cup cars already having fallen prey to the track surface in the previous race which had taken place just hours earlier.
Starting with full wet tyre options on, Christodoulou put in his first race stint of the day, stopping only to change to more practical intermediate option tyres, but a by-product of this change was a loss of position. At the end of this first two hours the team was 5th place. Now taking the opportunity to rest, Christodoulou took a break and was able to rejoin the race six hours later in an improved fourth place.
As night set in, visibility was much lower but Christodoulou caught the pack of three cars immediately ahead and despite the conditions and yellow-flags, soon battled back into 2nd place.
But the success was short-lived, and while taking one of the fastest corners on the track, the steering suddenly jammed. Taking action quickly he managed to avoid the barriers and grass by slowing the car down just enough to keep it on track.
The power steering had failed, and from this point on things became difficult. Every turn of the wheel required the weight of the driver's body behind it, and with five long laps ahead until the end of his stint, things were looking bleak.
Despite this disadvantage, Christodoulou powered on past the leading Aston Martin (still gaining around 25 seconds a lap despite the steering problems) before pulling into the pits in the early hours of the morning to handover and take a second well-deserved rest.
The car had been fine apart from the earlier issue, but news soon came of contact on track which had cost the team a few places, and the car had come back into the pits for repairs, with the power steering had been getting progressively worse.
The Bonk Motorsport engineers slaved away for three hours to resuscitate the car, but by this time any chance of salvaging a result was lost entirely, and the decision was made to retire from the event. It was 7am and the team's race was over.
Commenting on the valiant effort of the team Christodoulou said, "The whole team were great. They put so much effort in getting the car back on track but once it was over we were all gutted. We had the speed and consistency, and had a strong chance of winning the race in out category, but this time it was not to be. The 'green hell' - the Nürburgring 24 hours - got the better of the car."
"Still the weekend has been an eye opener for me. The big manufacturers and names were racing today, and taking part in this event again is something that I plan on doing next year, and for many years to come".
Asked about his next race event on the calendar, Christodoulou talked about the Le Mans Series, "I'll be back in the seat of the CRS Racing team's Ferrari 430 GT2. We'll be in North east of Italy at Imola in a 6 hour endurance race where I’ll be gunning for a podium result."
By: Adam Christodoulou pr