Pair of P2 Podium Finishes for Mann at Nordschleife

April 9, 2024

Shift Up Now Athlete Pippa Mann and her WS Racing Girls Only teammates earned back-to-back second-place finishes for rounds one and two of the Nurburgring Langstrecken-Serie (NLS) Championship at the Nurburgring Nordschleife on April 5-7, 2024.

Mann piloted the No. 146 Giti Tire BMW GT4, supported by ZF Motorsport and Motul Germany, alongside teammates Beitske Visser (driving Saturday and Sunday), Carrie Schreiner (Saturday), and Fabienne Wohlwend (Sunday). In addition to the driver lineup, the Girls Only team featured a crew of all-female mechanics and engineers.

Testing took place on Friday afternoon. The team’s goal was to get all four drivers on track during the 4.5-hour session on the 24.36-km NLS track layout. Due to unforeseen circumstances, Mann was unable to turn laps, but her teammates worked to dial in the handling of the car, looking for both single-lap pace and full-stint performance.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session was damp and cold. After Visser turned one exploratory lap at the start of the session, the team determined the track conditions were still too wet for slicks, and they decided to wait for ten minutes for the grip to improve. Mann was next in the car, and hit the track for her first laps of the weekend. Despite several areas of the track still being wet, she ran lap times that put the team third in their SP8T class, and just below halfway in the GT4 field. After teammates Schreiner and Visser took the wheel, Visser qualified the Girls Only team third for the start of Saturday’s race on the drying race track. 

Race one, began at noon on Saturday, featuring a 110-car field with 15 GT4 cars and five in the SP8T class. Visser was behind the wheel first for the four-hour endurance race. She drove a strong first stint, however a fueling issue caused the team to pit slightly earlier than planned.

Mann took the wheel next for her first dry laps of the weekend on the famous “Green Hell” track. Because the team was off-sequence from the early pit stop, Mann had to re-pass several slower GT4 cars that had not stopped yet, and continued to advance through the field.

Due to an abundance of incidents, causing “slow zones” around the race track, she wasn’t able to drive a single full-green lap, however her pace looked good in the green sectors. Halfway through her stint, while slowing for a “Code 120 slow zone,” she was hit from behind, causing damage to the rear of the car, but not affecting her pace.

After Mann, Schreiner was next in the car to drive a double stint to finish the race. However the damage to the exhaust from the impact sustained in Mann’s stint caused an over-heating gearbox, and the team had to make an additional pit stop to address the issue.

Once she re-joined the race, despite being several minutes back, Schreiner started the charge to chase down P3. When a lead car suffered a tire puncture, the Girls Only team set their sights on P2. An error from the second placed car - speeding in one of the slow zones while under pressure from the closing Schreiner - promoted Mann’s team to second-in-class, and P9 overall in the GT4 class. Overall, they were happy with the pace but looking to dial in the handling on their Giti tires for a faster pace the following day.

Qualifying for race two took place on Sunday morning. Once again, Visser was first on track for a two-lap run, and set a qualifying time that was second-in-class and seventh overall. Mann took the wheel next and in one flying, sub-nine-minute lap, ran two seconds off the best time in her first full green flag lap of the weekend. Wohlwend was the final driver behind the wheel, but a brake-line issue meant she was unable to set a qualifying time.

Race two began at noon on Sunday. Wohlwend drove a strong first stint for the four-hour competition, moving the team up to P2 in class, and P2 overall in the GT4 field. Several GT4 cars - including the P1 competitor - pitted off-sequence, putting them on a different strategy than the Girls Only team.

Mann took the wheel next and caught the leader halfway through her stint. She stayed in its mirrors and forced an error, turning it into an over-under pass at Hohe Acht. The move temporarily advanced Mann’s team to the lead of the SP8T class, which she held through the duration of her stint.

Visser drove the final stint. After fueling during the team’s last scheduled stop, they were forced to hold in pit lane for 15 seconds to meet the minimum pit stop time for the race. Nevertheless, Visser left pit lane in P1.

Unfortunately, a puncture from morning qualifying left the team without a set of new tires, so Visser was left to compete on battle-worn tires without much grip. With two laps to go, the second-place car passed her, putting the Girls Only car P2 in the SP8T class, and P4 overall in GT4 at the checkered flag.

“This was a strong weekend to build on as we prepare for this year’s twenty-four hour race,” said Mann. “Our girls were fantastic at the pit stops. Having to wait through the fifteen seconds of the last pit stop was agonizing, but having that margin left to meet our minimum pit stop time shows how flawless our mechanics were.

“Our Giti Tire BMW M4 GT4 was fast this weekend. We still have a little pace to find as we continue to dial in the car setup for the tires and the ZF Motorsport damping. But all four drivers ran within five seconds of each other on the nine-minute lap, so we should be a strong team in June when we race for twenty-four hours. Personally, I’m very happy to have had this opportunity to get the seat time ahead of that race.

“I want to thank the team, my teammates, and all our sponsors for having me drive both days this weekend. It will be a big help to come back in June with this many laps already under my belt this season. And as for today, while we might have been on different strategies, getting to make a pass for the lead in class, and then stay there with the fastest GT4 car on track this weekend breathing down my neck for the rest of the stint was definitely my kind of fun!”

Visser, Schreiner and Wohlwend will return to Nordschleife next weekend for the 24h Qualifying Race. Mann will rejoin the Girls Only team for the 2024 ADAC Total Energies 24 Hour Race at the Nurburgring on June 1-2, 2024.

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