Podium Finish for Mann in Weather-Shortened 24 Hour Race at Nurburgring

June 4, 2024

Shift Up Now Athlete Pippa Mann, along with her “Girls Only” teammates Carrie Schreiner, Beitske Visser and Fabienne Wohlwend - earned a third-place finish in the 2024 Ravenol ADAC 24 Hour race, affected by rain and fog at the Nurburgring Nordschleife on June 1, 2024.

Driving the Giti Tire BMW M4 GT4 in the SP8T class, the Girls Only team had three qualifying sessions on Thursday and Friday. The fastest time from each session would set the grid for the race, with any penalties carrying over to the start as well. Weather conditions confirmed the race track’s famous nickname, “The Green Hell,” as rain and fog hovered over the Ring all weekend.

Track activity began on Thursday afternoon with the first hour-and-45-minute session. Despite starting wet, it wasn’t quite wet enough for wet tires, which made the track extremely slippery on slick tires. There was a dry period mid-session, and although Mann and her teammates had to contend with code 60 and code 120 slow zones on the track, that’s when they set their best lap time. The team was able to run some dry laps but not without slow zones, then heavy rain fell toward the end of the session.

Later that evening, session two started dry with just a slight mist in the air, but a slow zone on track was called almost immediately. Mann, who was competing in this event for the fourth time, was the second driver in the car at dusk on a dry track, but had a lengthy code 60 zone during her stint. Once it was dark, all of the Girls Only drivers cycled through behind the wheel, but still didn’t get one lap without slow zones active on the race track as they worked to dial in the handling of their Giti Tire M4 GT4 race car.

Mann has described driving the Nordschleife at night like “driving down the darkest country lane you’ve ever been down, with armco barriers on either side.” Given she had not driven there at night since 2021, the British driver was given three night laps during the night qualifying session to get more comfortable with the Nordschleife after dark before this year's race.

Session three was the shortest of the sessions and took place on a dry track Friday morning. After only a couple laps, technical issues forced the team back to the garage. They worked tirelessly to diagnose and resolve the issues with the help of the BMW support technicians, but were unable to get back on track to improve their lap time.

Saturday morning brought a mostly-dry race track for the warm-up session. The Girls Only team was aiming to test the previous day’s changes. Ultimately, they decided their race car was getting closer, but they would make more changes ahead of the race to continue dialing in the car, and to optimize performance of their package.

The 2024 Ravenol ADAC 24 Hour race began on Saturday at 4pm. On the grid, the race track was dry, but the radar showed incoming rain, and teams were split as to whether to start the race on slick tires, cute slick tires, or wet tires. The Girl's Only team opted to follow the radar, and sent Wolhwend onto the formation lap on wet Giti Tires, hoping it was the right call.

As expected rain did start to fall on the formation lap, and as the 3 starting groups came to the green flag, cars starting on slick tires, and cut slick tires ducked to pit-lane to immediately change their tires, along with cars serving penalties from the qualifying sessions.

For the Girls Only team, it was a clean start through turn one, the first loop of the GP track and onto the Nordschleife.

After two laps, they had moved up to P3 in class. Then after four laps, a dry line began to emerge on the track. Visser was slated to be next behind the wheel, and the team tried to push to six laps before the stop while the rain tires continued to go away, so as not to get too far out of sequence, or have to make additional stops later in the race.

The team cycled back to P5 during the pit stop when cars that had served early penalties were able to run longer in their first stints. Visser drove a solid second stint, then Schreiner took the wheel for the third, advancing the team back to P3 and maintaining it through the next pit stop cycle.

Various incidents caused significant code 60 and code 120 zones, but the track continued to dry up. Mann took the fourth stint around 7:30pm. The track was dry for the first three laps before she encountered heavy rainfall on portions of the track. Unfortunately, at least half of the Nordschleife stayed dry, which meant Mann had to stay out on slicks, making for difficult handling.

Nonetheless, Mann held onto the P3 spot in class, then handed the car to Wohlwend for her first double stint of the race as the sun set, and darkness drew in. She went out on wets but this proved tough to handle on the dry half of the race track. Despite the struggle, Wohlwend extended the team’s lead over the P4 car significantly.

Visser was back in the car 11pm for her first double stint. Fog started to set in, which eventually red-flagged the race just before midnight. Race control indicated that the next update would come at 7am, at which time the thick fog still loomed overhead, delaying the competition one hour at a time.

Finally at 9:30am, cars were called back to the grid, but the fog was still too thick to start the race. Race control indicated a restart at 1:30pm, but with five laps behind the pace car as the fog was still too patchy for safe racing conditions. Finally at 3:00pm - one hour ahead of schedule - the race was called, giving the Girls Only team a P3 podium finish in class.

"It’s a super-weird feeling for the race to never truly go green again after we were red-flagged last night for fog, and it feels pretty anti-climatic,” said Mann. “However, we have to remember that having ‘Eifel Wetter’ interfere with this race is a very normal part of racing here. It’s why this place earned it's nickname of the Green Hell.

“During the first half of the race, in all of those half-wet and half-dry stints, we drove our tails off. Our Girls Only team had super-clean pit stops, and the conditions were a massive challenge for us, and all of the competitors. We also rose to that challenge, moving up in our class, not making mistakes, and doing our best to make the right tire calls, and manage whatever tires we had on the car in whatever conditions then presented themselves.

“When we look at how we drove before the race was red-flagged, and the decisions we made as a team, we earned this third-place finish today.

“I’m very grateful to the team for inviting me back for my fourth 24 Hours with them, and I love that we have four fast drivers on our team. And anyone can be fastest if they are given that golden clean lap by the gods of The Ring. However I have to admit, how our race ended this year has already left me hungry for 2025. Despite everything ‘Die Grune Holle’ threw at us this year, I can’t wait to be back for another shot.”

Next up, Mann is slated to return to the United States and continue her racing season with clients in International GT (IGT) and the World Racing League (WRL).

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