Tag Archives: Mercedes SLS AMG GT3

A Glimpse of British GT, 2015 – style

The Special Correspondent has been a long time supporter of GT Racing, especially in recent years the excellent British GT Championship. So he seized an opportunity to preview the 2015 edition with a visit to Brands Hatch a week or so back.

2015 DB General

Wednesday 25 March – Media Day for the British GT at Brands Hatch. Wet weather was forecast but it was dry and sunny the whole day. This year the splendid entry of 35 cars is almost completely balanced between the GT3 cars (18) and the GT4s (17), this latter class becoming deservedly very popular. A number of cars spent useful time on the circuit – here are some of them:
2015 DB General
One of three BMW Z4 GT3s entered, this being run by Barwell Racing for Jon Minshaw and Phil Keen.
2015 DB General
There are Aston Martin Vantage GT3s aplenty. No. 4 is one of the Oman Racing Team cars.
2015 DB General
This RAM Racing Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 is one of two expected to run this year.

2015 DB General

New this season are two McLaren 650S cars entered by Von Ryan Racing.
2015 DB General
Hopefully the Toyota GT86 will race more regularly this year.
2015 DB General
Lots of Astons in the GT4 category this season. Here Beechdean’s car is entering Druid’s Bend.
2015 DB General
Good to see three Lotus Evoras – no. 77 is the car for Lotus Engineer Gavan Kershaw;

2015 DB General

no. 54 is one of the two Ultra Tek Racing entries.
2015 DB General
The part of the Lotus that hopefully the other GT4 contenders will see!

David Blumlein, April 2015

The Ring Cycle

The first of the three great endurance classics was a week or two ago. The weather Gods frowned upon the event and yet those of us who got cold and wet were still smiling  A bad day on the Nordschleife is better than good days most anywhere. Our Special Correspondent braved the elements to bring you this commentary. Danke!

DSCN 9978

It is not often that one drives down the main street in a town and passes under a bridge that looks just like a typical railway bridge except that it isn’t! No, this bridge (on the left) carries the race track of the Nϋrburgring’s Nordschleife (northern loop), and the track climbing up to the right can just be seen. This is the Adenau section of the circuit and the cars come down the hill from the left, cross the bridge and charge up the right hander on their way to Bergwerk.

A race circuit cutting through a town’s normal buildings – magic!

DB3 0034

The Nϋrburgring 24 Hours 2013 will go down in history for two main reasons. First, it contained the longest enforced suspension of racing in the 41 races run so far owing to the impossibly wet weather conditions – it was red-flagged at 22.44 p.m. when visibility was practically zero and racing only resumed at around 8 a.m. on the Monday. (Fog had already caused a stoppage in 1992 and 2007, and in 1973 the race format called for two 8-hour heats with an 8-hour break between).

Secondly, this was the first win in the event for Mercedes-Benz – BMW had been victorious no less than 19 times, Porsche 11, Ford 5, Chrysler 3 and Opel and Audi once each. The Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 has been developed into a reliable car and it gave Black Falcon yet another 24-hour victory, providing also a first time win for drivers Schneider, Bleekemolen, Thiim and Sean Edwards, the first Briton so to triumph.

173 cars started the 2013 race with 36 retirements (in 2007 there were 224 starters!) but each year this fascinating event attracts scant coverage in the British motoring journals, so a brief look at some of the contenders should go a little way to compensate:

DB3 0068

Aston Martin has long had positive links with the Nordschleife – who can forget the DBR1’s three successive wins in the 1,000 km races in 1957-59 thanks to the skill of C.A.S.Brooks and Stirling Moss with their three different co-drivers? The company now has a technical centre alongside the Döttinger Höhe section and has in recent years been a regular entrant in the 24 Hours. This year their works-backed Vantage GT3 shared the front row of the grid and was leading the race prior to the onset of the dreadful weather and the subsequent red flag. The wet conditions that persisted at first on the Monday morning did not suit the car and it had dropped back to tenth by the finish. The picture shows the car diving down to the Hatzenbach towards the end of the race.

DB3 9628

This Opel Manta seems to be a regular fixture in recent editions of the 24 Hour race. The crowds love it because the model dates from the Eighties and once again it completed the race, this year in 100th position.

DB3 9897

This Audi R8 LMS ultra of Phoenix Racing was one of the favourites, having sat on pole position at the start. Here it is climbing the rise out of the bridge at Adenau on its way to Bergwerk. After last year’s victory this was not Audi’s year – this car could not manage better than 8th.

DB3 9704

Nor was it BMW’s! The Z4 GT3s are very potent machines with 4.4-litre V8 engines (the road cars use 6-cylinder units) but this car , again a favourite, finished only 6th. BMW honour was upheld by Maxime Martin’s remarkable drive in the last hour or so when he snatched second place with the Team Marc VDS Z4 GT3 thus spoiling a 1-2-3 Mercedes finish!

DB3 9976

Peugeot has been scoring class wins in recent Nϋrburgring 24 Hour races with the RCZ coupés but this year they have been very anxious to promote their new 208 GTI model and all three of their entries completed the race, the best winning the class.

DB3 0015

The GT4 class was hotly contested with Porsche no. 56 running away with the class initially but in the end this BMW M3 GT4 finished first in the group on the road followed by a Ginetta G50. Alas it seems that both cars have since been disqualified!

DB3 9903

Cor Euser brought his GT4 Dubai 24-Hour class-winning Lotus Evora to the race in an attempt to repeat the performance. Unfortunately, American driver Shane Lewis not only crashed it in practice but out-braked himself in the race and damaged the car again. However, Euser does not give up easily and his team had the car repaired in time for it to do a final lap at the finish and qualify in 134th position.

DB3 9920

Alset Global, a company pioneering a hybrid hydrogen fuel system, entered into a collaboration with Aston Martin to develop a car that could take part in an international race using hydrogen as the fuel. Aston Martin chose their newly-released Rapide S model as the basis of this and it was intended that it should have its first outing thus equipped in the Nϋrburgring 24 Hours. The car is a hybrid and used hydrogen for a lap or so at the start of each driving stint, the normal fuel for the V-12 engine taking over for most of the time. In the course of the meeting the car did the first ever lap of the circuit using hydrogen only and thus entered the history books.

This car was run prior to the 24 Hour race in the second and third VLN races (the first was cancelled) to get it race-worthy but it only used petrol on these occasions.

DB3 0071

While on the subject of fuels, diesel cars have long had their own class in this race – BMW had the first outright win for a diesel car in an international race when it won here in 1998 – and the smoke being emitted from this 1-Series BMW confirms its  diesel status – it went on to win the class ahead of a Seat Leon.

DB3 0040

No Nϋrburgring 24 Hour race would be complete these days without the Manthey Team Porsches. Here is car no. 18 pedalled by the top works Porsche drivers. The flashing blue light in the windscreen is to warn drivers of slower cars that the really fast boys are approaching them!


DB3 0097

Mission accomplished – the three Peugeot 208 GTIs arrive at the finish.

N13 1182

David Blumlein, June 2013

Heat and Dust

The first endurance race of the 2013 season took place last week in Dubai. With a huge entry of good quality it can certainly be counted as a success. Our Special Correspondent was out in the Emirates, here are some of his reflections on the event. 

Reflections on the Dubai 24 Hours

The Dubai 24 Hours for GT, Touring cars and 24H Specials is a wonderful race. Entry for the public is free, yes free, with free use of the grandstands, free entry to the paddock and a generous grid walkabout before the start. The rest of the world, take note! Being run in mid-January, the race provides an ideal opportunity for manufacturers and teams to try out new cars, new parts etc., with adequate time to make changes and modifications before the start of the full international season.

Two years ago the Mercédès-Benz SLS made its 24 hour début at Dubai with a team of three factory-supported cars – the SLS has won the race ever since. And there is none of that confused safety-car nonsense in this race – whenever there is an incident requiring the cars to slow right down, the marshals wave the purple Code 60 flags and every car is compelled to slow down immediately to a maximum of 60 kph on pain of stiff penalties; it does not pay to disobey! Thus the relative intervals between the cars are maintained and drivers who have built up a lead over their rivals don’t lose it as is so often the case with the safety-car system. Code 60 works a treat and is much fairer for everyone. The rest of the world, take note! The weather for the race is invariably pleasantly warm and there is almost a guarantee of no rain; some sand blown onto the track sometimes but that’s racing. And 81 cars started this year’s race, with a variety of classes and sizes, just as endurance racing should be. The circuit is 5.39 km long with two 1 km straights, quite able to accommodate the different performances of the cars. Below are some of the cars which caught my particular interest:

2013 Dubai 24

This is the new VDS GT 001-R from Belgium, making its race début. It is said that Tony Gillet influenced the chassis design and, like the final racing version of the Gillet Vertigo, this car also uses the 4.2 litre Maserati V8 engine (built by Ferrari). It not surprisingly for such a new car encountered all sorts of problems during the twenty-four hours but was still running at the end, albeit way down the field.

2013 Dubai 24 The Jones brothers, former British GT Champions, came to the Dubai race for the first time, enabling their three sons to share their Mercédès SLS AMG GT3 with them. The family finished a creditable fifth overall and second in their class. Totally unforeseen was their influence on the final outcome of the race. The Black Falcon team had their number one entry seriously damaged in a testing accident on the Wednesday and the Jones brothers made their spare car available to them. This was to entail much hurried work because the spare car was set up in sprint mode and needed to be adapted to undertake an endurance event. The Black Falcon team stripped the car right down and transferred their engine and transmission etc. to the replacement car, a major undertaking with practice on the Thursday and the race at 2pm on the Friday. Here is the “interim” car in practice where it took an astonishing pole position:

2013 Dubai 24

The full conversion was ready for the start and history records that this car went on to win the race outright;

2013 Dubai 24

here it is cresting the brow at Turn 15 with a typical Dubai backdrop.

2013 Dubai 24

The field included several “tiddlers”, especially Clios and Minis but this little Citroën C2 was going particularly well in the early stages – alas, it did not reach the finish.

2013 Dubai 24

Nissan made a big effort with a team of two 370Zs in the GT4 (SP3) class. This one fell back after an off-course excursion but its team-mate took 2nd in the class.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  Two of the 24 Hour Specials. They are GC Automobile GC10 models which hail from Pézenas to the west of Montpellier in the south of France. No. 131 has a 6.2 V8, the other a 3.5 V6.

2013 Dubai 24

It gave me great pleasure to see this Lotus Evora GT win the GT4 class. Evoras have been quietly notching up such successes in the last two seasons or so in GT races.

2013 Dubai 24

The battle-scarred Aston Martin Vantage GT4 run by the Barwell Team on its way to fourth in the class. This is an example of a car that was trying out some new parts.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  Ferrari has never won this increasingly significant race but this AF Corse 458 Italia came very close to doing so.

2013 Dubai 24

Picture DB3  It is a charming tradition in the Dubai 24 Hours that one of the drivers from each of the first three finishing cars is brought to the podium on a camel. Here they are arriving prior to receiving their awards.

This was the eighth running of this race and it is good to see how it is growing in status. It attracts both very professional teams and drivers and the atmosphere reminds me of Goodwood in the Fifties when there were no petty restrictions! And as a privileged member of the media I have to say that the hospitality extended to us is second to none. The rest of the world, take note!

David Blumlein, January 2013

A Case of the Benz

2013 Dubai 24

The eighth edition of the Dubai 24 Hours took place last weekend. The event has matured nicely and even in these financially perilous times could boast 81 starters, someone must be doing something right.

At dawn we have a brace of SLS coupés, with the Jones’ example on its way to a fine fifth place overall. More from the race during this week.

John Brooks, January 2013