In consultation with its customer teams, Porsche has made a last-minute change to its driver line-up for the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring. New to the crew driving the 911 GT3 R are two outright Le Mans winners and endurance champions: the brand ambassador Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Earl Bamber (New Zealand).
“Normally I’d have been competing in the IMSA series this coming weekend, but unfortunately, that’s not possible for us,” commented Bamber. “Safety first, there’s no doubt about that. On the flip side, the opportunity arose at short notice for us to take part in the 24-hour race.
“It’s going to be a huge challenge for me because I’m basically jumping in the deep end. It’s great that I can drive for KCMG. I know the team well. I competed in the NASCAR series recently with them.
“All Porsche teams have prepared intensively with the 911 GT3 R for the toughest race of the year. I’m super excited about my first laps on the Nordschleife.”
In addition, the line-up also includes last year’s GTE-Am class winner at Le Mans and brand ambassador Jörg Bergmeister, talented youngster Nico Menzel (both Germany) and seasoned specialist Norbert Siedler (Austria). Porsche works driver Sven Müller (Germany), Dennis Olsen (Norway) and Klaus Bachler (Austria) tackle the race for two Porsche customer teams.
They replace the nine drivers with works contracts, including Australian Matt Campbell, who have had to step down from attending the Nürburgring race on 26-27 September. This reshuffle is the result of three positive Covid-19 tests done as part of a routine check on Porsche employees at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. As a consequence, Porsche Motorsport decided that, for safety reasons, no participant from the French endurance classic would travel to the Eifel.
As such, on Saturday, 26 September at 3:30 pm, four Porsche customer teams will field seven 911 GT3 R in the top SP9 category with reshuffled driver crews. Only the No. 911 Manthey-Racing Porsche, which fans have dubbed “Grello”, will not be part of the 2020 action. Nevertheless, Porsche is still the most strongly represented brand at the long-distance classic, which is held four months later than the original date due to the coronavirus pandemic: About a third of the 100-strong field is made up of 911 and 718 Cayman racing vehicles.
“The health and safety of everyone involved take top priority for us. That’s why the tough decision not to be represented at the Nürburgring by the drivers and employees who attended Le Mans was ultimately a no-brainer. Still, I’m glad that we found a quick solution with our customer teams and that we can compete on the legendary Nordschleife,” says Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “I’d like to thank the organisers and officials at the ADAC who, in consultation with the relevant authorities, made it possible to hold the traditional 24-hour race on the Nürburgring. Hopefully, this important German motor racing event can welcome many fans from all over the world again next year.”
The Nürburgring is one of the world’s most demanding and picturesque racetracks. The Eifel classic runs over a 25.378-kilometre combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife (northern loop). The infamous Nordschleife, which was given the intimidating name “Green Hell” by three-time Formula One World Champ Jackie Stewart, poses a real challenge for drivers with its rollercoaster layout, changing track surfaces, and many corners and crests. The fact that the race is contested by professional racers through to clubsport drivers makes the 24-hour marathon particularly appealing.
The schedule (Local time)
Thursday, 24 September
12:30 – 02:00 pm: Qualifying 1
08:00 – 11:30 pm: Qualifying 2
Friday, 25 September
01:25 – 02:25 pm: Qualifying 3
05:50 – 08:10 pm: Top Qualifying
Saturday, 26 September
11:15 am – 12:15 pm: Warm-up
03:30 pm: Start 48th Nürburgring 24 Hours
Sunday, 27 September
03:30 pm: Finish 48th Nürburgring 24 Hours