Newsletter 3: Around the Clock through the „Green Hell“

Affalterbach, Jun 22, 2011
The 39th ADAC Zurich 24h Race at the Nürburgring on 25 and 26 June 2011 will be the first big highlight of the AMG customer sports programme with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. For 24 hours – twice around the clock – eight near-standard gullwing cars will drive around the 25.359 kms long track; the combination of the legendary Nordschleife (“north loop”) and the new grand prix circuit is said to be the longest and most demanding permanent race track in the world. Three-times Formula One World Champion Jackie Stewart once called it the “green hell”.
Black Falcon entered three SLS AMG GT3s; ROWE RACING two, and Mamerow Racing, Race & Event as well as Heico Motorsport will start with one gullwing car each.
The Teams and their line-ups:[SWEIL181]
Black Falcon
Andrii Lebed/Hannes Plesse/Maik Rosenberg/Ralf Schall
Vimal Mehta/Sean Patrick Breslin/Sean Paul Breslin/Stephan Rösler
Kenneth Heyer/Thomas Jäger/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Jan Seyffarth
Race & Event
Heinz Schmersal/Christoph Koslowski/Stephan Rösler
Mamerow Racing/ ROWE RACING
Chris Mamerow/Armin Hahne/Pierre Kaffer
Heico Motorsport
Lance D. Arnold/Alexander Margaritis/Christopher Brück/Christiaan Frankenhout
ROWE Racing
Alexander Roloff/Roland Rehfeld/Hubert Haupt/Marco Schelpp
Michael Zehe/Dominik Schwager/Klaus Rader/Mark Bulitt
They will face a giant competition. 210 Teams are on the entry list, representing 23 manufacturers and brands, probably the biggest variety of all races world wide. Among the drivers, there are five former F1 drivers and 25 active or former DTM drivers including Thomas Jäger, Hubert Haupt, Alexander Margaritis, Armin Hahne and Pierre Kaffer who will be racing for the SLS AMG GT3 customer teams.
Although it will be the first 24 h race at the [T2] Nürburgring for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, the gullwing car has already a lot of Nürburgring experience. Since September 2010, it has covered a total of 841 laps there – including the test races in the final three events of the 2010 Nürburgring long distance series (VLN) and the first VLN races in 2011, when the car was entered already by customer teams. This corresponds to a total distance of more than 20,500 kms. For comparison: In the 24h race, the fastest cars will probably cover an estimated distance of more than 150 laps or almost 4,000 kms.
Thomas Jäger: “The Nürburgring and particularly the Nordschleife are one of the biggest challenges for a race driver. Moreover, there are the unpredictable weather conditions in the Eifel Mountains and, in the 24h race with its many participants, the traffic of cars with different speeds. Our teams are well prepared for this highlight of the Mercedes-AMG customer sports programme. In the Nürburgring races so far, the SLS AMG GT3 proved to be fast and technically mature , and achieved two wins and several podium finishes.” - In the course of the best possible support of Mercedes-AMG for their customer teams, test driver Thomas Jäger is racing alternately for the teams. In the 24h race, he will start for BlackFalcon with the car number 22.
Safety First: The SLS AMG GT3 Safety Features in Detail
Be it Formula One, DTM or the customer sports car SLS AMG GT3 - Mercedes-Benz’s race cars match the same quality standards as their production cars. This is good particularly when it comes to safety. The exemplary safety level of the SLS AMG GT3 was verified with the help of numerous crash tests at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center in Sindelfingen – where the passive safety features of all series-production AMG and Mercedes-Benz models are also developed and tested.
The engineers have developed a system to release the door hinges in case the cars remains on his roof top after a possivble accident, so that the driver is able to exit or – if necessary – can be recovered.
Here, you can find a small but essential difference between the race and the standard SLS. If the standard car lands on its roof or one of its gullwing doors after an accident, a control unit detects the car's position and, within a matter of seconds, performs two sensor scans. If the car does not move within this time, four pyrotechnic actuators are ignited, each of which mechanically releases a lever by means of a pin, causing the two roof hinges to detach from each of the two doors. Once the door locks have been opened, it is possible to pull the doors off the hinge arms horizontally.
At the SLS AMG GT3, however, the pyrotechnic actuators are not ignited automatically but manually. This can be done by the driver or by the track marshals with switches at the left side below the front screen and at the right and left C columns. The system was developed during the course of vehicle testing and adapted in line with the specific motorsport conditions and regulations. In this instance, a manual solution was chosen. This was also the FIA's recommendation.
Moreover, the steel rollover cage not only ensures the driver's safety, but also adds additional reinforcement to the aluminium spaceframe. Another eye-catching feature is the racing bucket seat with a six-point seat belt and HANS system (Head and Neck Support). Similar to the Mercedes-Benz DTM cars, the taylor-made seat is located within a safety cell of high-strength carbon. With its special shape, this cell which is connected to the rollover cage and the aluminium spaceframe offers an even better protection for the driver’s shoulders, hips and legs; a unique combination among this field of competition.
Together with the 120-litre CFRP safety fuel tank located directly over the rear axle for optimal crash protection, and with the high-performance fire extinguisher, the SLS AMG GT3 offers a safety level which at this time is not matched by any other GT3 car.

Mercedes-Benz and the Nürburgring – a Love Story
The history of the Nürburgring is also a story of Mercedes-Benz success. Driving a Mercedes 680 S, Rudolf Caracciola won the inaugural race on 19 June 1927 on the Nordschleife; the latter had been built in the course of two years as the "First mountain, race and test track" by up to 3,000 workers at times.
"Caratsch" also won the German GP races in 1931 and 1937, as well as the 1931 and 1935 Eifel Races on the Nordschleife for Mercedes-Benz. The Silver Arrows were born in the 1934 Eifel Race won by Manfred von Brauchitsch in a Mercedes W 25. The white paint had been sanded down to reduce the cars' weight and so the Mercedes racing cars lined up at the start in silver-coloured aluminium bodywork.
Mika Häkkinen continued this tradition by winning the race in 1998 in his McLaren Mercedes. One year earlier, he had started from pole position - on his 29th birthday. In 2000, his team mate David Coulthard clocked up the fastest time in practice. In the DTM, Mercedes-Benz drivers have won 29 out of 58 races since 1988, exactly 50 percent. Bruno Spengler achieved the last DTM win with his Mercedes-Benz Bank AMG C-Class in 2010. The most recent Mercedes-Benz success, however, has been achieved by a private team. Armin Hahne, Chris Mamerow and Pierre Kaffer drove the Mamerow Racing SLS AMG GT3 to victory in the second round of the VLN long distance series at the Nürburgring on 30 April 2011 – the youngest chapter of the Mercedes-Benz and Nürburgring love story.
In 2002, 75 years after the first race at the Nordschleife, the Mercedes Arena has been opened – a combination of corners following the front straight; its opening turn often shows spectacular overtaking manoeuvres. The best spots to watch them are on the Mercedes grandstand right next to the paddock entrance.
The 24h Race
The Nürburgring 24h race has been staged for the first time in 1970. It has been held every year ever since, with the exception of 1974 and 1975. This year will see the 39th edition of the event.
The race weekend will begin on Thursdy, 23 June 2011, with free practice from 14:30 h until 16:00 h. The first qualifying will follow from 19:30 h until 23:30 h on the same day. The grid positions will be decided after Friday’s second qualifying from 16:55 h until 18:55 h. The race will be started on Saturday, 25 June 2011 with the chequered flag on Sunday at the same time.
German TV station “Sport1” will broadcast live from the event starting on Thursday. The start and the opening hours of the race will be shown live beginning on Saturday at 15:45 h until 18:15 h. More live reports will follow from 19:15 h until 21:00 h and from 21:30 h until 23:00 h. Sunday’s live reports will begin at 7:00 h until 9:00 h, and from 11:00 h until 16:45 h, “ Sport 1” will show the closing stages until the winners’ ceremony. Thus, 11:30 hours which is almost half of the race can be seen live on TV.

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