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  • Writer's pictureRACERS

Girls Only team secures class podium at Nürburgring 24H

Despite just under 8 hours of green flag racing, the 52nd Nürburgring 24 Hours was certainly not short of action and, in typical Nordschleife fashion, drivers had to face all sorts of weather conditions: surviving rain, tyre strategies and traffic, the all-female Girls Only team secured their fourth consecutive podium in the SP8T class with an all-star line up featuring Fabienne Wohlwend, Beiske Visser, Pippa Mann and Carrie Schreiner.

Girls Only by WS Racing, Beiske Visser, Fabienne Wohlwend, Carrie Schreiner, Pippa Mann, 24H of Nurburgring 2024
Photo credits: Gruppe C Photography

The 2024 edition of the legendary 24 hours race at the Nürburgring will go into the history books as the shortest ever among its 52 editions. Despite just under 8 hours of green flag racing, the race was certainly not short of action and, in typical Nürburgring fashion, drivers had to face all sorts of extreme weather conditions - with tyre choice being the main strategy point.

While the race was eventually halted on Saturday night when a thick layer of fog engulfed the circuit - and green flag action could ultimately not resume - the ADAC 24 Hour race remained one of the most iconic and challenging in motorsports competition, with its nickname of Green Hell living up to its name once again.

Twelve female racing drivers entered the legendary race - with four competing in the same crew: Indy500 veteran Pippa Mann, Fabienne Wohlwend, Beitske Visser and Carrie Schreiner got behind the wheel of the Giti Tire BMW M4 GT4 operated by the Girls Only by WS team, aiming to continue the podium streak in the SP8T class. The team - which traditionally features an all-female driver line up, with female engineers, mechanics and management - took class victory in 2021, then recorded a third and a second place finish in class in the following years, always showing solid pace and strategies at one of the most difficult endurance races in the world.

And indeed, the Girls Only team delivered once again, with a third place in the GT4-based SP8T class in the 2024 running of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, navigating the field with racecraft and precision during the most challenging moments of the race - such as the start in mixed-weather, and the first hours of darkness in difficult visibility due to the increasing fog.

Qualifying was contested between Thursday and Friday over three sessions, again in wet weather - albeit not wet enough for wet tyres, a typical feature of the 25km-long track that can present vastly differing conditions on one side to the other of the circuit, making tyre choice a real gamble.

On slicks, the Girls Only drivers were able to run some dry laps mid-session, despite frequent code-60 and code-120 slow zones: they clocked their best lap time in 9:17.310 before more rain fell at the end of the session.

While the following night session started dry, more slow zones soon prevented the driver from improving their benchmark, as no laps fully under green were recorded and the team focused instead on setup work. Mann logged the most laps in the night session, making up for her lack of driving time in the darkness at the Nordschleife since 2021.

The third session was again dry, but a technical issue for the #146 BMW M4 GT4 meant that Mann, Wohlwend, Schreiner and Visser had to sit out most of the session as the team worked on fixing the issue, with the support of BMW technicians and were unable to rejoin the track in time to improve their lap time from the opening qualifying session.

Only the warm up on Saturday morning now separated the team from the start of the race - and the drivers went out for some more setup changes.

The 52nd edition of the ADAC 24 Hour race began a few hours later - under the most complex conditions: with most cars ready to start on slicks on a dry track, rain arrived during the formation lap and teams had to react quickly as the race went green, with several teams staying out and others opting for cut slicks. Fabienne Wohlwend took the start in the Girls Only BMW M4 GT4 - and the team gambled for wets straight from the start.

With a heavier shower on the first lap, Wohlwend had a clean start and moved up to third place in class, although the track started to dry up already by the end of the first couple of laps. The driver from Liechtenstein perfectly managed the tricky conditions and kept it on track despite the quickly degrading wet tyres.

Fabienne stayed out for six laps and then handed over to Beitske Visser at the end of the first hour of racing, having run a superbly consistent stint.

Visser rejoined fifth in class - with many teams now on vastly different strategies. F1 Academy driver and experienced GT3 racer Carrie Schreiner was up next - and the German racer brought the car back up into the top three. She ran consistently and managed the frequent code-60 and code-12 zones before pitting, with Pippa Mann now taking the helm of the #146 BMW, around 3 hours and a half into the race.

Now out on slicks on a dry track, Pippa Mann experienced again the Nürburgring weather when a new rain shower hit sections of the track. She fought through and, with not enough track under the rain, she had to continue her run on slicks.

The British racer held on and kept third place, before handing over to Wohlwend: the team opted for wet tyres, but again the track had dried up quickly, making Fabienne's job behind the wheel tricky. Nevertheless, the experienced driver continued to run in third place and extended the gap to the fourth-placed car - the #160 Adrenalin Motorsport BMW.

The sun set over the Eifel and Wohlwend remained behind the wheel for a double stint as the race entered the night. Beitske Visser was then back in the car for her second stint - but she now had to deal with the increasing fog.

A former BMW factory driver and two-time W Series vice-champion, Visser ade no mistakes and, as conditions worsened, the race was ultimately red flagged just before midnight - with the GP circuit being completely drowned in fog.

Race control aimed for an update at 7am, and cars were brought onto the grid at 09:30 as the pace car checked conditions around the circuit. Unfortunately, the fog continued to delay the restart and, several hours later, the pack got back underway behind the safety car for five exploratory laps.

Visibility remained problematic and, when it was clear that racing could not resume in safety, the race was called at around 3pm. With Beitske Visser taking the chequered flag, the Girls Only team secured another podium finish - the fourth consecutive one in GT4 machinery, making the step up from TCR in previous years.

Despite the anticlimactic finish, the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring proved again a complete challenge, with drivers having to overcome sudden weather changes, managing heavy traffic all while driving inches from the barriers on the most difficult racetrack in the world.

“During the first half of the race, in all of those half-wet and half-dry stints, we drove our tails off", said Pippa Mann, a Shift Up Now athlete. "Our Girls Only team had super-clean pit stops, and the conditions were a massive challenge for us, and all of the competitors. We also rose to that challenge, moving up in our class, not making mistakes, and doing our best to make the right tire calls, and manage whatever tires we had on the car in whatever conditions then presented themselves."

"It was a hectic start to the race with weather conditions changing all the time but we made the right strategy calls", echoed Visser, at her third ADAC 24 Hour race. "Unfortunately in the night it became very foggy and the race was red flagged."

"What a crazy race weekend!" - Wohlwend added. "Despite facing challenging conditions and an unfortunate long red flag due to heavy fog with no real restart, we managed to finish third in the SP8T class and 49th overall."

"Proud of our team's performance and grateful for the incredible support from the 240,000 fans around the Green Hell - You made this race special!"

There were notable results also for other female drivers on the grid: on her first race in the GT4 platform, Laura Luft (Adrenalin Motorsport BMW) was fourth in the SP8T class, with Jasmin Preisig (PROsport Aston Martin Vantage GT4) also just missing out on a class podium in the SP10 category.

On her 24-hour debut, former TCR star Michelle Halder took class victory in the AT2 class, driving the Porsche 992 Cup car for the first time in racing conditions. Chantal Prinz sealed victory in SP6, as well as Desireé Müller in the V4 class. Flavia Pellegrino Fernandes also scored a podium in the V4 category.



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