This is what you need for a heavenly lap of the Green Hell
The 24hNBR kicks off at 15:30 CEST, so we look at how to set up a Porsche 911 GT3 R for a flying lap of the Nordschleife
With the mercury hitting 18 degrees Celsius, a bone-dry Nordschleife is offering plenty of grip for works driver Mathieu Jaminet. With the tyres of his 911 GT3 R at optimum temperature and minimal traffic ahead, he gets the order over the radio: “Push this lap.” Jaminet sets the engine mapping to maximum performance, checks the brake balance and traction control settings and settles in for 25.378 kilometres of pure adrenaline.
“When I hear those words come over the radio, I have to grin inside my helmet because every driver loves getting such a message,” the young Frenchman says. “Then the time has come for complete concentration and to become one with the vehicle and the racetrack.”
To post the perfect lap on the mighty combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife, everything has to come together. And nearing the eight-minute mark is only possible if the setup is just so. The rear wing of the 911 GT3 R can measure only 1,800 millimetres in width – ten centimetres less than the conventional version for circuit racing, and when the car is stationary, ground clearance must be at least 70 millimetres at all times.
“On conventional racetracks, the Porsche 911 GT3 R generates most of its downforce via the front splitter,” explains Manthey-Racing engineer Patrick Arkenau. “However, the effect of this component greatly depends on the ground clearance – and that varies hugely on the Nordschleife with all its jumps and compressions. The so-called double flic at the front ensures a steadier aerodynamic balance because it generates downforce on its upper side and thus acts independently of the respective ground clearance.”
For the drivers, a predictable car is essential and drivability takes precedence over maximum performance on the Nordschleife, – at least most of the time. For Sebastian Golz, Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager, two parts of the track are decisive: “Look at the Bergwerk section, one of the track’s slowest corners. The name of the game there is to straighten the car up very quickly and maintain a lot of traction. The driver has to hit the throttle very early because there’s a steep climb of around 210 metres to Karussell. If the driver doesn’t manage to accelerate out of Bergwerk well and early, the car will literally starve to death and be left in the dust on the way up. Those who can catch a draft up the hill can win critical metres over their competitors.”
The second section is the run from Schwalbenschwanz to Galgenkopf. “Highly efficient aerodynamics plays a very important role at this point because Galgenkopf leads onto the Döttinger Höhe,” Golz explains. “If you’re too close to the car in front in this corner, you’ll struggle with dirty air which affects the aerodynamics – and the car loses downforce. If the driver then has to slow down even slightly at Galgenkopf, the section from Döttinger Höhe to Tiergarten will be very tough. For about two kilometres it goes flat out, including a left-hand kink that is taken at almost 270 km/h,” says Golz. “On the long straight, you see very quickly whether a driver wins or loses ground.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 R
Shortly after the Döttinger Höhe, Antoniusbuche and Tiergarten lead to the start-finish line. “The moment of truth,” Jaminet smiles. “Was I quick? Was that really the limit? Often I don’t even know myself. It’s unique on the Nordschleife: as a driver, you never have the feeling you’ve managed a perfect lap. Personally, I’m empty after such a qualifying attack and I have the feeling I’ve somehow survived the Nordschleife, with its high risks and sometimes being on the verge of flying off the track. First, it all has to sink in. It always takes me a while for this to happen. I only come to my senses after a couple of minutes in the pits.”
The Nürburgring 24 Hours begins today at 15.30 CEST and can be viewed live at www.24h-rennen.de