Pippa Mann and her WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ Giti Tire team earned a third-place finish in their class on Sunday, May 29, 2022 in the ADAC Total Energies 24 Hour race at the Nurburgring Nordschleife in Rhineland-Palatinate, Germany.
Driving a BMW M4 GT4, Mann and teammates Carrie Schreiner, Fabienne Wohlwend and Celia Martin, the event schedule meant there were no practice sessions outside of the official qualifying sessions to set the grid.
The weather was sunny and dry for the first, 90-minute qualifying session on Thursday morning, however the team encountered an electronic fuel pump issue, and were unable to run laps. The second session was three hours in length on Thursday evening, into the night and track conditions cooled considerably as the sun set. All drivers completed two laps while it was still light out, then one once darkness fell.
For Mann, these laps were her first on the Nordschleife in 2022, her first ever in the BMW M4 GT4 and after the red flag stoppage for fog overnight in 2021, her first ever lap on the track in complete darkness.
After using the final short 45 minute qualifying session on Friday morning to bed in brakes for the race, Mann took 5 laps on the Nurburgring Grand Prix of the Nurburgring during morning warm-up on Saturday morning to continue to learn the car before the start of the race.
Saturday’s 24-hour race began at 4:00 p.m. and welcomed back fans for the first time since 2019. An estimated 250,000 race fans were in attendance around the 15.8-mile racetrack and more than 130 cars participated, including 38 GT3 cars.
It was dry and cool for the race start. Martin was behind the wheel first, starting from P4 in class. The formation lap left at 3.40 for the long lap around the Nordschleife before the green flag. Martin advanced to P3 during her stint and handed the wheel to Wohlwend for her seven-lap stint.
Mann took the wheel third for seven dry laps in the daylight. Then Schreiner was the first to drive a double stint just before nightfall, followed by double stints from Martin, Wohlwend and Mann, running flawless laps and carrying them through the night. As dawn broke, the WS ‘Girls Only’ Giti Tire team was running second in their class, but dropped back to third once the sun rose, and their closest competitors found their pace again in the day-light.
With approximately four hours to go, as the “Eiffel weather” the region is known for started to play a part in the race. Conditions were extremely wet in parts of the race track, almost dry in others, and constantly changing with the rain fall moving weather across different areas of the race track at different times. Mann and Schreiner handled the two difficult stints of the race with the constantly changing conditions on slicks, and “cut slick” tires, and kept the car in third place, with no mistakes, for Martin to take over for the final stint.
The team took the checkered flag in third place in their class, and 35th overall.
“I was thrilled to be asked to rejoin the WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ team for this event, and to have the opportunity to return to the Nordschleife for the 50th anniversary of their first 24 Hour race,” said Mann. “After the weather impacted the race so severely the past couple of years with long red flags, we were all hoping for a full 24 hour race this year, and our wish was granted.
“This is definitely a tough event to turn up to with no seat time at the track since the race the previous year, and no experience previously driving an M4 GT4, but the ‘Girls Only’ crew and engineering team worked with me to help me get comfortable in the car. Overall I’m very happy with how I drove in the race, especially in the extremely tricky wet/dry stint I had on Sunday.
“The night laps here were also a real experience. This track is so very dark at night, and the headlights of the GT3 cars coming up fast are extreme. There was also a lot of code 60 and code 120 during my first stint at night, but during the second stint I was able to really find the rhythm and run comparable lap times to daylight.”
She added, “Overall, our entire driving lineup was strong and we all contributed to this result. The WS Racing ‘Girls Only’ pit crew was amazing. As a team, we ran a great 24 Hour race and maximized our result. We worked hard, made no mistakes and were rewarded with a result that we can be proud of.”
Mann plans to return to action on June 10-11, 2022 at the Daytona 14-Hour endurance race with TLM Racing in the World Racing League, driving the Monoflo Porsche Cayman GT4.