It is the toughest circuit race in the world: 33 left-handers and 40 right-handers over a distance of 25.378 put man and machine to the ultimate test. Whilst still important, speed is not all that counts here. Driving skill, stamina, tactics, flexibility, teamwork and, last but not least, a good portion of courage are also essential on an unforgiving circuit. Over 200,000 motorsport fans from around the world will make the annual pilgrimage to the legendary 24-hour race at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. It is no coincidence that the perilous circuit, which winds its way through the hilly landscape in the Eifel region of Germany, has been given the nickname "Green Hell". On 19th and 20th of May the waiting will be over. The ultimate endurance roller-coaster ride – twice around the clock – will roar into life once again.
MINI fans will still remember the 2011 Eifel marathon like it was yesterday. The MINI John Cooper Works Coupé Endurance made a successful sporting premiere at the Nürburgring. Both MINI Coupés completed 24 hours of spectacular racing – just reward for the commitment shown by the MINI Motorsport works team. The result was a triumph in itself: many rivals had already been forced to park up before the end of the race. The new MINI Coupé proved to be a successful endurance specialist.
Even today, the number 146 MINI Coupé remains a star around the world, and still attracts the attention of motorsport fans as a show car at international events. The MINI John Cooper Works Coupé Endurance is still in exactly the same condition as it was when it crossed the finish line at the Nürburgring on 26th June 2011: totally unaltered, complete with rubber abrasion in the wheel arches and dead flies on the bonnet and front windscreen. Fans were most recently able to experience the #146 MINI Coupé at close hand at MINI United in Le Castellet, the largest MINI fan festival in the world.
Soon it will be a case of "Green Hell Reloaded" for MINI fans. The sister car will once again face the challenges of the Nordschleife. s.i.g. Motorsport has put together the MINI Coupé for the second outing at the 24-hour race. Experienced drivers Ingo Gaup, Friedhelm Erlebach and Jürgen Bretschneider will alternate in the cockpit of the number 145 MINI. As last year, s.i.g. Motorsport will line up with a second MINI. Gotoh Hitoshi, Steffen Schmid and Dirk Lauth will drive the MINI with the start number 146 – last year's lucky number for MINI Motorsport's MINI Coupé.
The Besaplast Racing Team, which is also sending a MINI into action on the Nordschleife, will provide stiff competition in the SP 2T class. The team showed its potential at the 24-hour race in Dubai, when the MINI produced a flawless performance to clinch the class victory. Furthermore, the driving quartet of Franjo Kovac, Fredrik Lestrup, Steffi Halm and Jürgen Schmarl are well aware of the properties of the car, having driven it in the MINI Trophy series. The third MINI team at the 24-hour race is that of Schirra motoring, who are also counting on the MINI's potential to be successful. Schirra landed its MINI in 34th place overall at the Nürburgring in 2011, making it the best-placed MINI racing car. And, last but not least, drivers Hermann Bock, Jörg Weidinger and Max Partl make up the fourth private MINI team. The experienced trio will take to the track in a MINI John Cooper Works Challenge.
Regardless of which is your favourite team, MINI fans can look forward to an exciting 24-hour race, as the four MINI teams go head-to-head with the opposition on the Nordschleife. It is another case of David against Goliath. To find out who comes out on top, we will have to wait until about 16:00 on 20th May, when another bruising encounter on the Nordschleife comes to an end at the 40th Nürburgring 24 Hours.
You can find detailed previews and updates throughout the race at Twitter.com/MINImotorsport, Facebook.com/MINImotorsport and MINImotorsport.com.
In probably the shortest race in the history of the Nürburgring 24 Hours, three MINI teams passed the Green Hell test with flying colours.
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