Waking up on the floor of the lounge, I went out to the track at dawn. There were many surprises waiting for me.
“Wait, I don’t see the car from XXX? Is it not on the track?? Oh man…they retired out of the race…”
Seeing the familiar form of the Schulze GT-R provided some relief. They had climbed up the ranks, to the top position out of other GT-R’s in the race. The Team RJN GT-R had damaged their body panels on its first lap had fell behind, while the other car with Japanese drivers crashed in the middle of the night and retired out the race. Having shaken off its bad luck in the crash in qualifying, the Schulze GT-R had escaped the black hole of endurance racing. It might also have been the Japanese lucky charm that was placed in the car after repairs.
The pit building glowing golden in the morning light was a scene that I had taken over and over again in Photo Mode, and seeing the real thing was a touching moment. And the exhaust sound of the cars reverberating in the cold morning air was exquisite.
Car number 24 continues to clear lap after lap at its own constant pace, and they quickly rose from 30th at an incredible speed. During the night, Tobias showed concern for Jordan’s lack of sleep; and I think that was a glimpse of the small things that gives real strength to the Schulze team, who have the most number of laps and accumulated experience on the Nürburgring with the GT-R GT3.
The race was coming to an end, and I still had regrets of places I had not gone to yet, but I asked Stefan the shuttle bus driver to take me to the Pflanzgarten, the biggest jumping spot on the Nürburgring.
Only a week after the LeManｓ 24 hour race, the tight schedule must have taken its toll on the drivers, as Lucas Ordonez had come down with a temperature during this race week. Even so, the Team RJN GT-R is led to the finish line.
The replacement of the hub bearing on our GT-R had offset the driver change timing, and this year’s finishing driver was Yamauchi san.
The count is “00.00.00”, meaning that 24 hours have passed. The mechanics climb onto the fence and there are smiles on the faces of Polyphony Digital crew.
In the end, Audi had a double consecutive overall win of both the LeMans and the Nürburgring. After it all, it was a race week that really showed off the power of Audi.
And it might sound like a Cliché, but 24 hours really felt short. It felt as if it was packed into 24 minutes. It wasn’t so when the days are separate like in the free practice and the qualifiers, but once the race started, time went by all at once. I realized when there was only a few hours left and I was like: “I still have more photo shots to take! Keep racing!!!”
Schulze Motorsports made an incredible comeback after their crash in qualifying, and completed the 24 hour race. 14th overall (11th in the SP9 Class). Reaching the top position out of the GT-R’s with a damaged machine is no easy feat. Everyone had a smile on their face.
After the race, a prize giving ceremony was held in the event hall.
And Yamauchi san this year received an honorary award for his contribution to the industry. Everyone says so, but Gran Turismo had a real hand in making the Nürburgring this well known in the world.
Back at the pit, there was the Polyphony Digital crew and the players. There are things out there that only those who have shared a drama in life with no prewritten script can understand, things that don’t exist in the virtual world.
Seeing the car packed with these feelings being pushed back to the paddocks tent with their own hands, gave me a satisfying feeling that this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour Race was finally over.
The Schulze GT-R fought through an incredible battle. The GT-R is often called the Godzilla in Europe and the US, but this car with its bare carbon panels looked like a cyborg Mecha Godzilla, and that was really cool.
The sun sets on the Nürburgring.
After the race, we went to the restaurant of Sabine Schmitz again, the second time this trip.
Surprisingly the menu is also available in Japanese, but the Japanese text on the menu is a bit of a mystery in some places, so even pointing at the menu for the waiter still leaves some doubt…. but what we ordered arrived correctly at the table.
But I thought to myself that it would be cooler if the menu had a taste of motorsports in it… Like a “Sabine’s fastest lap time steak (extra rare)” for example.
When we exited the restaurant, we met up with Mr. Darren Cox, one of the core people who started GT Academy. A rare shot of the connection between real and the virtual.
On the Monday following the day of the race, we went to clean up the lounge that was our place of rest during race week. Everyone experiences for themselves a rare event of “How to build a racing team”, and that experience is fed back to their work and interests. I don’t think there are any other organizations or companies that do something like this. This is a rite of passage, but also a starting point for a new objective.
The media center that I walked into for the first time. During the race there are media from all over the world here. Of course there is no one here now.
Monday, most stores are closed so we had Nürburgring’s famous curry bratwurst here. Its just a sausage and potatoes with curry powder on top, and you could quite easily reproduce the soul food of the Nürburgring at home.
I stopped by the Ringwerk on the way back as well. The shutters of the inoperational roller coaster is open here. The rollercoaster still isn’t working – I wonder why it was open?
Back at the paddocks, I saw the Z4 of Team Schubert with its annual graffiti on its tailgate. I wonder who’s going to write the graffiti next year?
After packing away the paddocks tent, the trash is left at the location to be hauled away. Though this is a painful memorabilia for Yamauchi san, its research material for the Polyphony Digital crew, and they take whatever parts they can fit into their luggage.
The crowded camping area is also clear now.
The style of the spectators is that they bring a full set of home furnishings, not even camping equipment. And in festivals in Europe and US, they leave many of their things behind.
And we’re about to say good by to the lodge and the BMW station wagon that took care of us for our weeks here.
“…but I thought you said you were going to camp??”
“I put the tent up?”
Uhh, I’m sorry.
The time was so jam packed and the 24 hours of Nürburgring went by too fast, and I had no time to really use the tent. But since I brought it, I had a quasi camp experience at the lawn of the Lindner Ferienpark… then I was out of time.
Well, the 24 hours of LeMans and the Nürburgring 24 race is over, but the series of the world’s 4 biggest endurance races still continues.
The ” Total 24 Hours of Spa“, where many of the teams from the Nürburgring as well as GT Academy drivers participate, starts on July 26.
From Team RJN, there will be 6 drivers from GT Academy in the race. (Katsumasa Chiyo and Masataka Yanagida of Japan will be racing in car number 35).
#35 Mark Shulzhitskiy、Miguel Faisca
#80 Nick McMillen、Florian Strauss、Alex Buncombe、Wolfgang Reip
The 24 hours of Spa is held as a part of the Blancpain Endurance Series, so it is streamed live on the internet. Please check it out:
LIVE BROADCAST http://www.blancpain-gt-series.com/live
Of course its also good to experience the Spa 24 in the virtual world too.
Timed endurance races can now be held after the update, so it would be fun to host an virtual endurance race limited to FIA GT3 machines as in real life. I bet in the open lobby of the race day, there will be lots of rooms like the “24 Minutes of Spa” popping up.
Thank you for reading the Nürburgring report by EXP over the past month.
The car media “Pit Stop” that crosses between the virtual and the real has only just begun. Stay tuned!