Double-shot of 24-hour races for nearly 20 drivers

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So last week was the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the midsummer endurance classic.

And what’s a better way to spend the next weekend than with another 24 hours?

For 18 drivers, they’re staying in Europe for another week, and another 24-hour race. The ADAC Zurich 24-Hour Race, or as it’s more commonly known, the 24 Hours of the Nurburging, follows a week after Le Mans and will see a wealth of talented drivers take to “the Green Hell.”

The 18 include two Le Mans winners. Overall winner Marcel Fassler, who co-drove the winning No. 2 Audi R18 e-tron quattro with Andre Lotterer and Benoit Treluyer, is entered in the No. 3 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra with co-drivers Marc Basseng, Frank Stippler and Laurens Vanthoor.

Additionally, GTE-Am class winner Nicki Thiim shifts from the No. 95 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage to the No. 10 Prosperia C. Abt Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra he’ll share with Christopher Mies and Christer Jons.

Jeroen Bleekemolen, who co-drove with Cooper MacNeil at Le Mans, has two more drivers to support him at Nurburgring. The No. 1 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 features Bleekemolen, Andreas Simonsen, Christian Menzel and Lance David Arnold behind the wheel.

Here’s the full entry list. In the meantime, below is a list of those doing the “24 double,” with their cars last week and now this week to monitor. An update after a double check reveals there’s a 19th driver doing the double, as well, that I forgot initially.

DRIVER		     LM24/CLASS
		     N24/CLASS
Jeroen Bleekemolen	79 ProSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 RSR/GTE-Pro
			1 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3/SP 9 GT3
Marcel Fassler		2 Audi Sport Audi R18 e-tron quattro/LMP1
			3 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS Ultra/SP 9 GT3
Rene Rast		24 Loeb Oreca 03 Nissan/LMP2
			4 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS Ultra/SP 9 GT3
Patrick Pilet		91 Porsche 911 RSR/GTE-Pro
			6 Frikadelli-Racing-Team Porsche GT3 R/SP 9 GT3
Stefan Mucke	        97 AMR Aston Martin Vantage/GTE-Pro
			7 AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3/SP 9 GT3
Darren Turner	        97 AMR Aston Martin Vantage/GTE-Pro
			7 AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3/SP 9 GT3
Pedro Lamy		98 AMR Aston Martin Vantage/GTE-Am
			7 AMR Aston Martin Vantage GT3/SP 9 GT3
Richard Westbrook	74 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R/GTE-Pro
			8 Haribo Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 R/SP 9 GT3
Nicki Thiim		95 AMR Aston Martin Vantage/GTE-Am
			10 Prosperia C. Abt Racing GmbH Audi R8 LMS Ultra/SP 9 GT3
Abdulaziz Al Faisal	66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari F458 Italia/GTE-Am
			14 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3/SP 9 GT3
Roman Rusinov		26 G-Drive Racing Morgan Nissan/LMP2
			17 G-Drive Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra/SP 9 GT3
Alvaro Parente          52 RAM Racing Ferrari F458 Italia/GTE-Pro
                        20 Dorr Motorsport McLaren 12C GT3/SP 9 GT3
Markus Palttala		75 ProSpeed Porsche 911 GT3 RSR/GTE-Am
			26 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW Z4 GT3/SP 9 GT3
Pierre Ehret		70 Taisan Ferrari F458 Italia/GTE-Am
			29 GT Corse by Rinaldi Ferrari 458 Italia GT3/SP 9 GT3
Alexandre Imperatori	47 KCMG Oreca 03 Nissan/LMP2
			44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R 997/SP 9 GT3
Nick Heidfeld		12 Rebellion R-One Toyota/LMP1
			80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3/SP 9 GT3
Lucas Ordonez		0 NISMO Global Nissan ZEOD RC/G56
			80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3/SP 9 GT3
Tristan Gommendy	46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Ligier JS P2 Nissan/LMP2
			121 Philippe Salini Seat Leon Supercopa/SP 3 T
Pierre Kaffer		71 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia/GTE-Pro
			502 Audi race experience Audi R8 LMS Ultra/SP 9 GT3

NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E and Ian James set to race ahead of electric motorsports’ curve

James McLaren Formula E
NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team
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As Formula E enters their ninth season and McLaren Racing is set to compete in last year’s championship winning car, Ian James is passionate about pushing electric motorsports forward at a critical stage as race technology begins surpassing that of the street cars.

Midseason, McLaren acquired the assets of the Mercedes-EQ team as they were already on their way to winning a second consecutive championship. With those assets in place and coming off a successful debut in the Extreme E series, James is set to usher in a new era in electric car racing.

Last week’s announcement that Jake Hughes will join Rene Rast behind the wheel of the NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team was the last piece of the puzzle.

McLaren’s electric portfolio is building with the Formula E team coming one year after they entered the Extreme E rally series in 2022 with Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour. There were a lot of lessons to learn in that series with growing pains during the first three of five rounds. Rounds 4 and 5 were a completely different matter with the team crossing the finish line first in Chile before being assessed a time penalty.

In the final round in Uruguay, they scored an elusive podium.

“McLaren kicked off the season in Extreme E at the beginning of this year, so our first [electric] race took place Neom, actually out in Saudi,” NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team Principal James told NBC Sports. “At the time, we were in very early discussions about opportunities with the Formula E team. I actually went out there to meet with Zak [Brown, CEO McLaren Racing] and that was my first taste of Extreme E.

“Since the transition, I joined them in Chile in Atacama Desert, and then Uruguay last weekend. [The second-place finish was] a lovely way to round out the season. The fact that they got that podium. It was very well deserved. It’s a great team and a great series actually. It’s just so very different from anything else. The team’s done a great job in getting set up, and it’s nice now to, we’re trying to use that momentum that we’ve got from Uruguay to get us into next season when it kicks off next year, which will be great. I think we’re mid-March is looking like the first race, so a little bit of time to get things prepped for that.”

 

James McLaren Formula E
The NEOM Mclaren Racing Formula E Team was created through the acquisition of last year’s championship team from Mercedes-EQ. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Synergies exist between the single seater and rally series. Lessons learned about battery power and sustainability in the electric SUV carry over so long as one is mindful of keeping focus on the individual needs and nuances of each series.

Especially now that electric racing technology has caught up, and is ready to surpass, the existing technology that has gone into building street cars.

When internal combustion engines gained the upper hand soon after automobiles were invented, racing paced alongside. The pressure of competition pushed the development of their commercial equivalents. The same has not necessarily been true of electric cars. Street cars were not designed to undergo the same stress as racecars – and that vulnerability showed up on the racetrack.

“Formula E has come along a long way,” James said. “I think one of the most notable developments is in the battery technology. In Gen 1, you had the drivers jumping from one car to another car midrace because the battery technology and capacity simply wasn’t where it needed to be to do the full distance. That obviously changed in Gen 2 and we saw a power increase as well to the 250 kilowatts.

“Now going to Gen 3, we have 350 kilowatts in a smaller battery. But that means that we’re relying on the regeneration of energy and for that reason, we’ve got also the opportunity to regenerate on the front axle as well as the rear axle now. So, there’s all sorts of things that are developing in the right direction.

“In terms of throttle response, actually, we’re now in a situation with electric racing and the motors that it’s instantaneous. And one of the advantages of electric over combustion engine is that the torque is instantaneous as well, so that gives you a lot more room to play with.”

No matter the power source, racing has always been about resource management. Drivers and teams select tire strategies they believe produce the fastest elapsed time and fuel conservation comes into play.

On one hand, electric racing is the same, but there is a critical difference. With the battery as both the power source and an integral part of the engine, there are multiple reasons to manage it.

In electric racing, the brain of the car is the software – and that is where James sees the greatest room for advancement.

“As we are working with our drivers and engineers – and start to look at functionality to improve our efficiency and our performance, that’s something we’ll continue to push because that development is open throughout the season,” James said. “That’s going to be our focus going forward and provides enough of a challenge for us to get our teeth into.

“What’s going to be fascinating is as Formula E continues, is to really look at which areas of development on the car are going to be the most relevant and ensuring that we can focus on those together with the manufacturers so we continue and use the series as a platform for technical development that can then feed back into the road car side of things as well.

“At the end of the day, that’s what motorsports always been, a very powerful tool for, and I see Formula E as no exception.”

James McLaren Formula E
Jake Hughes and Rene Rast were chosen for their ability to drive fast and execute the necessary strategy for energy management. – NEOM McLaren Racing Formula E Team

Selecting Rast and Hughes as McLaren’s Formula E drivers was not simply because they know how to drive fast. James believes both drivers have the mental aptitude to execute energy management strategies throughout the race and squeeze maximum performance.

“As with many other motorsports, you’ve got a certain amount of energy that you’re able to deploy during the race and the management of that energy is absolutely crucial,” James said. “What we’re seeing typically in electric motorsports now is the hardware side of things. The efficiencies that we’re seeing in the powertrain as a whole, they’re getting up to the sort of 96%, 97%, 98% efficiency, so the gains that you get through that further and further become more marginal.”

With much more room for improvement, software is a different matter. To make the best decisions, the drivers need data, and that is where James believes McLaren Formula E will make their greatest impact.

“And then you really switch that focus to the software and that’s where you’re going to see the most the most improvement and the most gains,” James continued. “It’s then using that software to ensure that you’re deploying the energy in the most efficient manner during race, and thereby giving the driver the most performance. And that’s something which is incredibly complicated, but I find it a fascinating area to work in.

“The benefit of being involved in racing is you can really push the envelope in a way that you can’t do on road cars. And I think that that’s where that value comes in. It means that you accelerate the development a lot quicker. We will get ahead of the curve – and we are getting ahead of the curve now – and that will mean that the electric motorsports remain part of the overall development process.

“The key to that is also making sure that the racing’s exciting and fun for the fans. If we can, we can tick both of those boxes, then it’s got a very bright future ahead of it.”