Wolfsburg (26 June 2011). Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen’s crew experienced an almost equal measure of success and disappointment at the 39th 24-Hour Race at the Nürburgring. The two blue biogas Scirocco GT24-CNG cars repeated last year’s success by coming first and second in their category. In addition to winning in their category, the three Dakar Rally winners Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah and Giniel de Villiers and the touring car legend Klaus Niedzwiedz also finished in a good 27th place overall in their 330 hp Scirocco. The eagerly awaited premiere of the three 450 hp Golf24 cars was less of a success, with the racing prototypes, which were put together in next to no time and which were put into the 24-Hour Race as a homage to 35 years of the Golf GTI, being forced to retire from the race early on.
After an impressive performance in the first third of the race, which included a spectacular duel between Volkswagen driver Thomas Mutsch (#135) and "Strietzel” Stuck, with Mutsch's four-wheel drive Golf bearing down on the Nordschleife legend's Lamborghini, the Volkswagen crew was subsequently hit by two car failures in the space of just 15 minutes. Car #135 piloted by Thomas Mutsch, Patrick Simon, Fredrik Ekblom and Edoardo Mortara went out of the race after an accident in which DTM driver Edoardo Mortara hit another vehicle as he entered the pit lane at about 22:15 on Saturday, then hit the barriers head on. To be on the safe side, the 24-year-old Italian was taken to the hospital in Adenau by the Volkswagen team doctor Dr Johannes Peil, but was discharged the same evening having been thoroughly checked over and given the all-clear.
Just ten minutes later, the #35 Golf of Peter Terting, Nicki Thiim, Franck Mailleux and René Rast had to withdraw from the race because of a gearbox malfunction.
The Golf24 with the number #235 and driven by former Formula 1 drivers Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell together with Patrick Bernhardt and René Rast was then struck by the same fate on Sunday afternoon and had to enter the pit lane earlier than anticipated because of gearbox problems.
Kris Nissen, Volkswagen Motorsport Director:
"The 24-Hour Race at the Nürburgring is extremely challenging and you really can't choose the outcome, but we certainly hoped that we would do better than we did with the new Golf24 racing prototype. You really have to push things to the limit when you are developing a competitive racing car. We are definitely not the only ones to have learnt a lesson or two and identified room for improvement this weekend. But we did nevertheless present a very fast and good vehicle with the Golf24, and we put on a great show for the fans with the fastest racing Golf ever during the first third of the race. And like all the other Scirocco drivers, our three Dakar Rally winners did a great job, while the vehicle itself once more demonstrated just how reliable it is. All in all, we are pleased with our performance.”
Patrick Simon, Golf24 (#135):
"The Golf24 is a car that really excites the fans, and its sound, looks and power are quite simply outstanding. I have never driven a car more quickly through the Flugplatz and Brünnchen sections of this track. The aerodynamics are obviously not as good as those of the flat super sports cars, but it is nevertheless sensational to drive. And it's a Golf, so you get behind the wheel and you just feel right at home.”
Mark Blundell, Golf24 (#235):
"This was my first time at the 24-Hour Race at the Nürburgring and it was pretty tough. Endurance races are always difficult, but the Nordschleife is in a league of its own and can't be compared with Le Mans, Daytona or Spa. It's a race that every racing driver in the world should attempt at least once. I would love to come back again because I now know exactly what to expect.”
Johnny Herbert, Golf24 (#235):
"For me, the 24-Hour Race was a great way of familiarizing myself with and coming to appreciate the Nordschleife. The actual results may be a bit of a disappointment, but being allowed to steer this incredibly fast Golf around the Nürburgring really was a pleasure. It has fantastic handling characteristics and corner speed. Thanks to Kris Nissen and the entire team for letting me be involved.”
Edoardo Mortara, Golf24 (#135):
"I had a bit of a scrape when I tried to overtake a slower car shortly before entering the pit lane at the end of my stint behind the wheel. I thought he wanted to enter the lane too so we had a collision when I began to turn in, which sent me hurtling into a crash barrier. I feel bad for my co-drivers and for the entire Volkswagen crew, as it was my fault. I'm doing OK, though, and I will definitely be on the starting grid at the Norisring.”
Carlos Sainz, Scirocco GT24-CNG, (#117, 27th):
"We can be very happy with having won in our category once again. It's always a great feeling to see the checkered flag after such a difficult race. After my third race here on the Nordschleife, we have finally become friends. I had a soft spot for the track all along, but now it's more of a case of love that is also reciprocated.”
Klaus Niedzwiedz, Scirocco GT24-CNG (#116, 46th):
"The Scirocco cars drove precisely and were as reliable as clockwork – almost as if Wolfsburg was actually in Switzerland. Being lucky enough to be driving both of the cars, I sometimes found myself in a duel with my own vehicle – something I've never experienced before in all these years. In all, this race was definitely one of the most challenging ever for me. The mix of top cars and slower vehicles in particular called for high levels of concentration from everyone involved.”