On June 6th, 2021, Pippa Mann was one of the driving quartet for the Giti Tire WS Racing Girls’s Only team who won the SP8 Class at the 49th ADAC Total 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife.
Competing for the first time in the Audi GT4 at the Nurburgring, Mann and Christina Nielsen joined the NLS diver line-up of Celia Martin, Carrie Schreiner, and the all female crew, for the infamous 24 hour race which took place on the notorious 13 mile race track, nick-named The Green Hell.
With limited testing ahead of the event, both Mann and Nielsen completed roughly six laps each before the green flag flew at 3:30 on Saturday June 5th, while Schreiner made the most of one almost completely dry lap during qualifying to put the Giti Tire Audi on the pole in the SP8 class. However the Eifel Weather, as infamous as the track itself for difficult driving conditions, played a role from the very first laps of the race, with rain falling on parts of the circuit, while other areas remained dry, even on the formation lap.
Schreiner and Martin took the first two stints of the race, dealing with almost deluge-like conditions in certain areas of the race track, and then just lightly damp pavement in others. Mann took over in the third stint, on a drying race track on cut slicks rather than wet tires, as the fog started to roll in. Nielsen took over the car on full slick tires for the fourth stint as the surface dried, but the fog worsened.
Due to the ever changing, exceedingly difficult and slippery track conditions, all of the drivers experienced many “Code 60” zones during their laps; where the pace was controlled to 60kph through certain areas of the race track to clear cars that had been involved in accidents and to repair barriers. As the driver rotation returned to Schreiner, the fog continued to worsen, and the race was red-flagged due to bad visibility at 10:30pm on Saturday evening.
Hopes for a re-start were continually rebuffed by the incredibly thick fog that coated areas of the circuit, and even after the light at the end of pit-lane turned green to allow cars to head to the grid, the thick fog remained as everyone waited for the visibility to improve enough to allow the medical helicopter to fly, and for the marshals to see from one post to the next.
The race was finally re-started at 12:00 noon on Sunday afternoon, making it a three-and-a-half hour sprint race to the finish. Martin would take the re-start for a short stint as refueling was not allowed during the red flag. She then moved the Audi GT4 back to the lead of the class on her first lap and then proceeded to set an impressive gap with her first dry, daylight running of the entire event. Schreiner followed Martin, and had to deal with rain on half of the track while on slick tires, and the decision was made to follow Schreiner again with Martin to the end. With the weight of the race on her shoulders, Martin buckled back into the Giti Tire Audi GT4, and proceeded to put down a dominating performance where after six lead changes throughout the race, she increased the gap to over five minutes by the time she took the checkered flag.
“Our entire crew, and my co-drivers were fantastic over the past 24 hours”, said Mann. “I know it was a shortened race, but the Eifel certainly threw some of it’s trickiest conditions at us, and we never had a bad tire choice, or a bad pit-stop. Then, at the end when we needed to lock down the victory, Celia was incredible. I was only here for this year, but this win was three years in the making, and three years of hard work by the Giti Tire WS Racing Girls Only team, and I’m very thankful I had the opportunity to be part of it. I’m so proud of all of my team-mates—not just my driving team-mates, but also of all the women who worked together this weekend to take our all female entry to Victory Lane.”
“We are so proud of winning that legendary race in our class,” said team owner Nicole Willems. “It was a great work of the whole team and the drivers. Well done. Since 2019 we tried to win that race but now we finally did it. Thanks to all fans, partners and Audi Customer Racing for their support. Now we will initiate the next steps with the Girls Only Team.”
Mann will return to action in her coaching and co-driving role at Mid-Ohio on June 25th-27th in the International GT Championship.