Just a short time to go to the 45th ADAC Zurich 24h Race and the pleasant anticipation of the drivers is increasing. This applies in particular to last year’s winner Maro Engel who is going to contest the race in the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 #1 and already got the goose bumps when travelling to the Nürburgring, this year. “If you leave the Autobahn, come here and see all the camp sites it makes you remember last year. The win in 2016 was the most emotional experience in my motor-racing career,” Engel said at the pre-event press conference on Thursday.
Apart from Engel, who made his DTM comeback, this year, the former DTM Champion and 24h-Race rookie Bruno Spengler (Schubert-BMW M6 GT3 #20), two-time 24h –Race overall winner Christopher Haase (Land-Audi R8 LMS #28) and Sven Müller (Manthey-Porsche 911 GT3R #59) also talked about their preparations for the race and their goals. “I had to learn a lot and this still is the case,” admitted Spengler. “You firstly have to contest a race, here, to really be able to match the pace of the fastest. Meanwhile, Haase is about to contest his 10th 24h Race and also knows the special requirements you have to cope with in a 161-vehicle field. “Finding the balance between overtaking and being patient is difficult,” he said. Müller who was born in Bingen but lives in Mainz looks forward to a lot of support. “I already feel at home in the Eifel and a lot of people from my hometown will come here to watch me racing.”
The press-conference quotes at a glance:
Maro Engel (#1, Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon): “The 24h Race has boosted my career. I got the chance of making my DTM comeback. This demonstrates the significance the race has got in the motor-racing world. The big advantage at Mercedes is our consistent driver line-up. The agreements and the driver swaps in general work really well. Racing together with the colleagues is big fun. For us drivers, assessing the balance of power is extremely difficult – it’s extremely close, this year. To have the chance of winning you have to deliver a perfect race. It will be extremely thrilling.”
Bruno Spengler (#20, Schubert Motorsport): “For me, this year will be a kind of a learning year. But I have got very competitive team-mates who help me to learn well and fast. I’m looking forward to this race and the new experience. Already yesterday the atmosphere was really great, witnessing the enthusiasm of the fans is just fantastic. Therefore, contesting this race will be even bigger fun. Our first goal: to make it to the Top 30 Qualifying. It definitely is an advantage to previously have driven a smaller car on this racetrack as it helps learning to watch your rearview mirrors. I think it’s a good regulation that you have to learn the track within the framework of the Nordschleife Driving Permit.
Switching from a DTM car to a GT vehicle is not so easy. In the beginning, you always brake slightly too late. So, it takes some time to find the rhythm.“
Christopher Haase (# 28, Audi Sport Team Land): “I have contested nine 24h Races and have experienced quite a lot but the weather conditions last year when the race had to be red-flagged for three hours due to torrential rain and hail were new even to me. .
Therefore I hope for nice weather, this year. To learn racing on the Nordschleife you have to begin with smaller cars. With these cars you partly have got a clearly different racing line than with the GT3 racers. Furthermore you also accustom to the partly huge speed differences between the two car categories. To date, I won the race twice, with the old Audi R8. Not I want to make it to the top step for the first time with the new R8. But achieving this goal won’t be easy as the competition is strong.
Sven Müller (#59, Manthey Racing): “I truly am looking forward to the Nürburgring 24h Race. Thanks to the preparations in the VLN races and at Daytona our team has developed very strong bonds and we are able to really depend on one another. As the Nordschleife is really special and I already raced GT3 cars in the VLN, adapting wasn’t particularly difficult for me. I’m coming from Mainz and feel really at home, in the Eifel. And there are lot of people from my hometown who will travel to ‘The Ring’ to watch me racing. But I wouldn’t call the 24h Race as my home race. There are a lot of other drivers who have covered far more kilometres at the Nordschleife. I’m really proud of being part of such a successful team as Manthey Racing.”