There’s no race quite like the Nürburgring 24 hours. Like a rough and ready music festival crossed with an endurance race, it’s about so much more than the 24 hours of racing that’s the centrepiece. Many locals rock up a week beforehand to build huge structures in which to camp, party and perhaps watch a bit of racing.
As a spectator, then, it’s superb. If a bit scary if you go too deeply into the woods surrounding the swoops and turns of Nordschleife.
As a driver, it’s just scary full stop. The Eifel region of Germany is vulnerable to the weather, and like most years, 2018’s twice round the clock race was split into two halves: 12 hours of scorching heat and sun, and 12 hours of torrential rain, bright lightning and Silent Hill-like fog, enough to warrant an hour’s pause towards the end of the race as red flags kept impatient drivers in the pits.
The temporary halt teed up an incredible 80-minute sprint towards the chequered flag one the weather abated, as previously large gaps between cars were bunched up. The top two cars – a Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R and Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 – went immediately into a scintillating dogfight, the 911 making a dramatic pass in the final hour, while battles continued throughout the hundred-plus cars on the grid.
The biggest cheers at the end of the 24 hours are for the cars that have battled not only their rivals, but the elements and the circuit itself. Rattly old BMW 3 Series coupes with gaffer tape in place of missing bumpers, a pair of Opel Calibras sounding like they’ve seen better days, a Porsche Cayman crabbing dramatically sideways as it’s meant to be driving in a straight line past the pits. You can get wrapped up in drivers’ stories without having a clue what the race standings are.
It’s a wonderful race that’s impossible to do justice to with mere words. So here are 50 images by TG snapper Mark Riccioni, from hectic garages to the even more hectic pit lane, and the unforgiving Nordschleife to the equally unforgiving woods around it. Click through them and then try in vain to resist booking a trip to next year’s event…