Official News from MINI Motorsports: Competitors spend months preparing for what is possibly the most challenging endurance race in the world. The performance of the car is optimised. The driving crew comes up with an elaborate plan to determine the order, in which they will take to the iconic track in order to achieve maximum success at the 24-hour race. The mechanics puzzle out how they can get the best possible performance out of their cars, whilst at the same time ensuring they keep running twice around the clock. However, the 41st staging of the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring-Nordschleife once again showed that the 25.378-kilometre circuit is a law unto itself.
The circuit has earned its nickname of “The Green Hell”, which it was first given by three-time Formula One world champion Jackie Stewart. The constant undulations of the track through the hilly landscape of the Eifel Mountains demands the highest level of driving ability. Then there are the weather conditions, which even in spring are unpredictable to say the least and make the teams’ lives even more difficult. It is by no means unheard of for the elements to cause the race to be suspended – as was the case on Saturday evening, when heavy rainfall and thick fog resulted in a stoppage lasting a full nine and a half hours. As such, the race was one of the shortest in the history of the classic at the Nürburgring.
Three MINIs successfully complete race
The good news: the miserable conditions in the Green Hell were unable to stop the majority of the teams that lined up with a MINI. Of the five MINIs that started the race on Saturday afternoon, three crossed the finish line at the end of the 24 hours. The performance of the Partl Motorsport team, which was the best-placed MINI in 2012, once again stood out. In a field of almost 180 cars, the Partl MINI started from 144th and, 73 laps later, came home in fourth place in its class and 68th overall. “We have done it,” said a delighted Team Principal Rainer Partl. “We made it to the end, and as the best-placed MINI. We are very proud of our team and our drivers.”
Just nine places back was the endurance MINI run by the Besaplast Racing Team, which had started the race from 120th. 77th overall also meant fifth place in the fiercely-competitive SP2T class, which consisted of nine cars. The NEXEN TIRE Motorsport Team’s MINI came home in 98th place to complete the trio of MINIs. Unfortunately there was to be no happy ending for the Schirra Motoring team at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife this year. Having started the race from promising positions with its two MINIs, neither car was able to complete the race.
That disappointment is all part of the challenge of the Green Hell. However, the clock is already ticking and the countdown to the 2014 Nürburgring 24 Hours is already underway. Let the preparations begin for the next trip to the Green Hell.