Carl’s 5th anniversary in the 24H of Nuerburgring went down with a German Porsche team, Steam Racing. We met the team briefly in 2009 when Carl raced there in the Hankook Levin Racing Porsche 996 GT3 RSR, since those teams shared the pitbox that time.
Carl repping us and Hankook
Everything looked pretty good in the SP7 class, the team had a race setup on the car which gave Carl’s team a middle of the class laptime in qualifying - but given several other cars were RSR Porsches on qualifying setup, the Cup car had an edge of less fuel consumption and usually, great reliability.
The race started on a wet track with a drizzle, Michael (regular from Steam Racing) started with a short stint and with the experience of this team, they came in to fuel 1 lap before the whole pack of 200 cars started to pit (which usually causes a big stir and usually problems reaching to fuel rigs and more or less traffic jam to get out of the pits). Carl went out clear after a fast pit stop. He was on the same rain tires as they started on and conditions changed between wet to drying track during his stint.
Carl said “It was tricky to push in these conditions, because either it was wet or there were a few miles of drying raceline, in which the wet tires would get very hot. That’s a very treacherous situation as overheated wets become super inconsistent to race on, so you have to keep them just on the limit and find wet sections on the straights to cool them off. A hard brake duel in the dry for instance, will instantly fry the wet tires and it takes a long time for them to come back from that. I was on the radio with the team and we considered dry tires after a few laps but right then came a new shower so I stayed out there and kept adapting to the ever changing conditionss. I’m very impressed with the team being very cool and calm, their experience with tire strategy and conditions on the Nordschleife really showed.”
Racing on, Carl set the fastest time for the team in these conditions before pitting.
After Carl handed over to co-driver Jim, relatively new to the Nurburgring, the car went two laps before reports came from the track that the car had been in an accident - and it had. Another car had impacted the Steam Racing Porsche and sent it into the guard rails. Normally, a quick fix of control arms would have the team back in the race in no time, but the impact struck so bad it damaged the mounts for the suspension arms, and the half-shaft transferred the force to the gearbox case which showed cracks. With that much damage, there is no point carrying on as the repairs will take too much time to even have the slighest shot at a good finish position.
Massive line-up, here Carl’s Porsche next to the new SLS GT3.
Bad luck for the guys who otherwise were climbing fast in the changing conditions!
“Total bummer”, Carl commented, “but what can you do. It was really aggressive out there, and a lot of the time just racing the car and track had to go on Nordschleife-experience, like autopilot, just to handle the traffic. It really demands all you have as a driver, it’s such a sweet feeling to race at this track”.
But we know that the team is planning some other cool European GT races and we believe Carl will be back in this car soon.