The 49th edition of the 24h race at the Nürburgring was supposed to be the shortest edition of the long-distance classic in history. The 25.4-kilometer combination of a modern Grand Prix circuit and a classic Nordschleife was driven in just under 10 hours instead of 24 hours. Increasing fog caused a long interruption in the night from Saturday to Sunday.
But already in the first six hours, the team around Wolfgang Kaufmann cemented its leading position in the class of production cars up to 3.5 liters. In practice, the Porsche Cayman S used by MATHOL Racing was only driven the second fastest time, but that didn't make anyone sad. “For us, qualifying wasn't that crucial for a 24-hour race,” explains Wolfgang Kaufmann. "Of course it is always cool to start from pole position, but we preferred to set up the car properly and test everything to avoid any surprises."
This tactic should also work with the pure driving time, until the interruption the MATHOL Cayman ran like clockwork. However, you entered the race with a 1-minute handicap: “We had a problem with a wheel bolt when we put on rain tires before the start because of the changing weather conditions,” said Kaufmann. “We then decided from the pit lane to start again and that gives a penalty time of one minute. ”But this minute you could quickly get out of the race against the class rivals and take the lead with confidence.
A second penalty of just over four minutes, which one of Kaufmann's teammates received for a yellow-card offense, did not endanger the leadership position. However, the hoped-for group victory over all production car classes was gone. The break in the night was too long to be able to drive this distance. "Maybe you could have stopped later and started earlier," said Wolfgang Kaufmann. "In critical sections of the route, it might have been possible with double yellow and 120 km / h or with code 60".
The restart took place at lunchtime on Sunday with only 3.5 hours of driving time left. Once again, Kaufmann and his teammates delivered consistently fast and confident leadership, so that the victory from the previous year in class V6 could also be repeated in 2021. “Our car was perfectly prepared, Matthias Holle's team was highly professional and the drivers simply delivered. Once again it was great to work with so many mechanics from the Westerwald region, ”said the Molsberger, summarizing the situation. "Without the second penalty, we would certainly have had an important say about winning the group, because our distance at the finish was just as big." Nevertheless, the MATHOL Cayman still landed on the podium in the production car, 3rd place in the group was spat by the timekeeping in the end.
Now that the 24-hour race is in the books, the next stop before Wolfgang Kaufmann is Southern France. The historic French Grand Prix takes place on the Paul-Ricard circuit, in the mountains north of Nice. “I will be in action there with the 78 Formula 2 on the high-speed track, it will certainly be very exciting,” says Kaufmann happily.
Written by: Christian Freyer
Photos: Hassan Bratic