The Sussex Autos-backed Will Hunt achieved a permit to compete in the top classes of the 2024 Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie (NLS) by reaching the chequered flag in the second six-hour leg of the 12h Nürburgring (8-10 September).
Hunt and Adrenalin Motorsport teammates Toby Goodman, Klaus Fassbender and Akshay Gupta had a troubled start to the weekend but survived the race in a respectable but “frustrating” sixth place in the VT2 R+4WD class.
The unforgiving Nordschleife has claimed countless high profile scalps over the years, and the circuit bit Hunt’s latest teammate and Nürburgring rookie Gupta hard on his out-lap from the pits during Friday’s first practice session.
Contact with the barriers necessitated lengthy repairs that, in combination with protracted red-flag stoppages, severely curtailed the #501 crew’s run-plan, and Hunt’s one and only lap of the German racetrack was then compromised by a defective front-left damper.
Qualifying on Sunday (10 September) morning was subsequently treated like a practice session and, blighted by excessive oversteer, sixth in the VT2 R+4WD starting order was the end result.
However, the first aim for Hunt remained unchanged, as he only had to finish the six hours to earn the permit that would enable him to enter the NLS’s highest and most competitive classes in 2024 and beyond.
Tyre wear was one of the main concerns due to unseasonably hot September temperatures, which peaked at 30 degrees Celsius, but Adrenalin Motorsport’s mechanics worked hard to resolve the BMW’s balance issues during the build-up to the race proper, ensuring the drivers felt confident and the rubber would go the distance.
Former FIA Lotus Cup Europe Champion Goodman took the start of Sunday’s six-hour race and progressed to fourth in class before Hunt's eight-lap run, during which he took the Sussex Autos-liveried BMW up into the podium places.
With one eye on tyre conservation as the Mercury rose and debris littered the circuit, Hunt managed the situation so well that he recorded his fastest laps at the very end of his stint and progressed up the leaderboard.
However, while Adrenalin Motorsport had fitted a larger fuel tank that would enable the #501 car to go a full eight laps before requiring a refill, a podium result gradually slipped away and Hunt, Goodman, Fassbender and Gupta ultimately finished the latter half of the 12h Nürburgring where they started in sixth.
“As a racing driver, I always want to get the most from each and every race and it’s pretty frustrating to come away from the 12h Nürburgring with a sixth-place result when we could have realistically challenged for another podium,” said Hunt. “However, the ultimate goal has been achieved because reaching the chequered flag means Toby (Goodman) and I now have permits to compete in the Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie’s top classes in 2024, which is very pleasing.
“My race stint was primarily about tyre management because it was incredibly hot and the amount of debris on the track meant you risked getting a puncture every time you went off the racing line. I played it safe and tried to be thoughtful when it came to letting the quicker GT3 cars pass, but I was possibly too risk-averse. We had a troubled build-up, though, and it’s a relief to have finished and come away with the permit we have been chasing since my Nürburgring debut in June.”