Female success & class podiums in sparkly 24H of Nürburgring
The 50th edition of the famous 24 Hours at Nürburgring was an uninterrupted and action-packed race throughout the classes: No snow or no fog this time - just pure racing. And it was a masterclass in determination and perseverance for the teams with female entries, who all finished on the podium. Laura Kraihamer won in the Cup-X, as well as Chantal Prinz in SP6. Jasmin Preisig was second in SP 3T and the Girls Only team with Carrie Schreiner, Pippa Mann, Célia Martin and Fabienne Wohlwend came home 3rd in SP 8T.
The 50th edition of the 24 Hours of Nürburgring turned out to be a spectacular weekend with no interruptions this year - after a shortened edition for weather conditions in 2021. And it was indeed an action packed race to the full distance, with some mixed weather and light rain. It certainly was a hardly-fought race with many accidents, some fire and lots of drama throughout the field; among the over 100 entries, four teams had female driver participation - and they all finished on the podium.
Laura Kraihamer was on the starting grid for Teichmann Racing, sharing the #161 KTM X-Bow GTX with Stephan Brodmerkel, Constantin Schöll and Hendrik Still in the Cup-X class.
Chantal Prinz entered the SP6 class together with Alexander Prinz, Michael and Martin Kroll in a Hofor Racing's operated BMW M3 e46 GTR.
Jasmin Preisig returned with Max Kruse Racing, partnering Gustavo Xavier, Emir Asari and Andrew Engelmann in SP 3T class, at the wheel of a Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR.
Last but not least, the Girls Only team by Giti Tire Motorsport by WS Racing returned to the Green Hell after winning the 2021 edition - with another star-studded drivers line up: Carrie Schreiner, Célia Martin, Pippa Mann and Fabienne Wohlwend, who shared the BMW M4 GT4. The team has made headlines at the Nürburgring in the past couple of years as the only project that features an all-female crew, including mechanics, engineers, management.
The story of the race - overall
The race started with the smallest first starting group in a long time, with 36 cars from the top SP9 and SPX classes. When the green flag was ready to be waved, the weather was dry with a mix of sun and clouds. The pole car with Jonathan Hirschi - the Octane126 Ferrari - defended his lead and completed the first lap without troubles in P1. Then the position changed when Jordan Pepper in the Konrad-Lamborghini #7 passed the Octane126 Ferrari, followed by Philipp Eng who then got ahead of both on Döttinger Höhe to take over the lead. Hirschi got into trouble with a tire puncture and dropped down slowly. The race started with three very aggressive hours with many collisions, punctures and drama for some of the favourites for the overall victory. One of the fiercest accidents was the one between the Vanthoor brothers, in the opening hours of the race. Laurens and Dries battled in a tough slipstream duel, but after two brief contacts, the Manthey-Porsche #1 driven by Laurens Vanthoor spun and crashed heavily into the barriers. The next big moment was the KTM X-Bow GTX #160 of Felix von der Laden catching fire. The German stopped the car near a marshal post and stayed in the car to apply the brake, but as the fire got too big, he had to jump out and the KTM rolled down the slope and crashed into another barrier. Luckily no other car was in the way and the fire was extinguished by the marshals. At 11pm the leading #90 TF-Sport-Aston Martin stopped on track, leaving a BMW 1-2 in the lead, with the #20 Schubert-BMW and #98 Rowe-BMW. But it wasn't long until they also ran into trouble: the leading BMW of Sheldon van der Linde had an accident with a puncture and the South African crashed into the wall. A statement from race direction was put out in the night by Walter Hornung due to the many aggressive moves that marked the first half of the race: "We had a few serious accidents, fortunately none of them harmed. Unfortunately, we had to impose a few penalties, which then also have an impact on the race", wrote the race director. "Accidents when overtaking don't really have to happen - after all, we're driving a long-distance race, not a sprint. We don't even have halftime and I would like a quieter night now." 7am. The #15 Phoenix-Audi led the race, with a gap of 1 minute. But, with 9 hours still on the clock, rain was expected to shake things up. Second-placed was the Schubert-BMW #20. The first rain drops arrived at 7:45am, which surprised Alexander Sims in the Schubert-BMW after he had taken the lead when the Audi was in the pits. Sims slipped off the racing line, made heavy contact with the barrier and damaged his right front tire. After a slow drive back to the pits, the BMW was out. On Sunday morning, the battle was between the #15 Audi and the #3 GetSpeed-AMG for the outright win - but there was another car on track that was getting the most attention: the Dacia Logan. It might be the slowest car on track, but with the power of passion, it was fueled by the 230.000 spectators! Hans Wehrmann (Cup-Porsche #125) got in big trouble when he was caught driving at 220 km/h in a double yellow zone - with a 120 km/h speed limit. The car received a time penalty of 7:32 minutes and Wehrmann was disqualified and lost his permit. With two hours to go the weather was again the biggest gamble. The #15 Audi was on cut slicks while the GetSpeed #3 on slicks. Götz (GetSpeed) lost plenty of time, but the weather continued to be unpredictable. He changed to slicks 7 laps later - in what would reveal to be too late to stop the #15 Audi. After an investigation in the pits. There were tense moments for the leading Phoenix-Audi #15 as they could have started the engine during the ongoing refueling process. Ultimately there was no penalty and the Phoenix-Audi #15 driven by Kelvin van der Linde, Frederic Vervisch, Robin Frijns and Dries Vanthoor won the 50th edition of the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, ahead of the GetSpeed Mercedes #3 (Christodoulou/Götz/Schiller) and the #4 Mercedes (Engel/Gounon/Juncadella). But the race was just as exciting in the other classes.
Austrian driver Laura Kraihamer was back after an encouraging last NLS round with Teichmann Racing and her teammates Stephan Brodmerkel, Constantin Schöll and Hendrik Still, driving the KTM X-Bow GTX in the Cup-X class - an all KTM category. And it was a difficult day for Teichmann Racing, which lost three of its front-running cars. Laura Kraihamer´s #161 car was also in trouble during the early hours of the night, as they were forced to pit for repairs after a clutch issue that was about to put the car out of contention. Kraihamer's team had started second in class and was having a solid race in podium contention when the issue happened - leaving the unlucky Kraihamer almost out of the race. But with great teamwork and an extraordinary effort from the drivers, they were able to rejoin in third place, albeit several laps down. What followed perfectly encapsulates the spirit of a race like the Nürburgring 24 Hours, where to finish is a big challenge in its own: Laura and her teammates drove perfectly and made up for the lost time, when the leading two cars hit trouble and had to retire. Never give up, they say. After 24 demanding hours, Laura Kraihamer and the crew of the #161 KTM finished first in class and P58 overall. "Once again, the 24H in the Green Hell have demanded everything from us", said Kraihamer. "I am incredibly proud of the team, which really gave everything and brought the car back on track after an issue - what an achievement!" "To then finish this crazy race and fight back to P1 in class is absolutely awesome. I owe this success mainly to my teammates Hendrik, Consti and Stephan, who stepped in for me after I've been struggling with food poisoning since last Thursday and therefore couldn't perform as they are used to me doing." "After the 24H is before the 24H - can’t wait to be back!" - she wrote.
As the sole entry in the SP6 class it might be easy to finish first - but nothing at the Nordschleife is easy. In the end, you need to finish the whole 24 hour race distance to be considered the winner of this legendary race - and so did Chantal Prinz with her team Hofor Racing BMW and teammates Alexander Prinz, Michael and Martin Kroll.
And for the team it was a special one, as it was the first time ever that they raced as a whole family driver line up - but not without trouble. An engine blow up on Friday couldn't stop the family, even after getting a few warnings as the loudest car on track and were forced to make adjustments in the middle of the race. Still, they came home P1 in class and performed very well in the overall standings, finishing P66.
Jasmin Preisig had to face the biggest field of entries in the SP 3T category across all the teams with female driver participation: seven teams were battling for the win. Preisig drove the Golf GTI TCR by Max Kruse Racing alongside teammates Gustavo Xavier, Emir Asari and Andrew Engelmann.
They started P3 in class, but the first drama occurred when the fire extinguisher went off in the car while they were in the pits - which cost them a lot of time to fix. The team put the car out again and they battled their way back to P1 in class, fighting with the Seat Leon TCR. While overtaking a slower car, they were crashed out of the race.
Once back in the pits, it was a question to fix the car to bring it back to the track and finish the 24 hours. With a huge effort from the mechanics, Max Kruse Racing put the car back together and Gustavo Xavier managed to cross the finish line in the #310 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, second in class and P53 overal.
"P2 in class SP3T in the 24hr Nürburgring! Started P3, worked up to P2, short incident with the fire extinguisher inside the car, back down to P4, fought back to P1, then after 22 hours a big crash and we thought the race was over", summed up Preisig. "But our mechanics did an incredible job and we finished up to P2!"
"What an emotional rollercoaster it was - thanks a lot to the team." - Jasmin concluded.
The Girls Only team was again among the protagonists of the world's famous 24 Hours of the Nürburgring through the Green Hell - this time with Carrie Schreiner, Célia Martin, Fabienne Wohlwend and Pippa Mann alternating behind the wheel of the BMW M4 GT4. The team truly is special, as it only features female members in its unique project. The team battled from the last place in class up to P3 at the end, without any issues over the whole distance - which was a premier for the team as they had a really unfortunate start of the 2022 season in NLS so far. But with great stints and teamwork, the Girls Only drivers came home on P3 in class and P35 overal. "The Girls team drove 24h without any issues. We finished P35 in total and P3 in class", said Carrie Schreiner. "I‘m so proud of what we‘ve achieved within 4 years with the project 'Girls only'. We are no factory team, some of the girls had their first taste of Motorsport this year - for that I’m so happy for this mega achievement", she explained. "Thanks to every single team member for the hard work and being so passionate about this sport. Great job from my teammates and especially big thanks to our amazing engineer Tamires. Last but not least thanks again to Thorsten and Nicole Willems for turning the vision of a full female racing team into reality and making it possible." - Carrie added. "This one feels like a victory to me!", echoed Célia Martin. "After all the difficult times we encountered I am so happy with our result. Girls Only Team you’ve been amazing! I am so happy with what we achieved together", Martin continued. "We always kept pushing during this journey and it paid off." "I loved every minute of this special edition - the start that felt like a sprint race - the double night stints, so special in the dark with all the fans around the track - and the finish, just a flawless 24H race". The Frenchwoman, who lives around the Nordschleife, was also part of the winning team in 2021. On the other hand, it was her first ADAC 24H with the all-female team for W Series star Fabienne Wohlwend: "What an experience - so many emotions, so less sleep but we made it, we finished the 24h Nürburgring race", Fabienne said. "I'm beyond proud of the entire team. The girls did an amazing job. Our star engineer Tamires Lustosa planned and timed everything perfectly and kept us calm and focused for 24 hours." It was Fabienne Wohlwend's 100th race in motor racing - and she celebrated it with a podium in one of the toughest competitions in the world. "Women behind the wheel, women on the pit-crew, and our amazing engineer and strategist Tamires calling the race from the box! Now let’s go celebrate!" - wrote Pippa Mann. It was the second 24H around the Nordschleife for the seven-time Indy 500 starter. What an incredible achievement it was for the many women on track - as drivers, mechanics and in all the other roles. Women in endurance racing continue to make great progress and are collecting podiums and victories with consistency, as we highlighted here. And we will be back in 2023 - or more precisely from 18th to 21st May 2023 for the 51st edition of the 24 hours of Nürburgring - with hopefully many more female entries, to continue inspiring everyone on track!