British drivers Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell will draw on their Formula One and Le Mans winning experience to lead the Golf24 charge for Volkswagen Motorsport at the NÃ¼rburgring 24 hour race this year.
With 440hp and all-wheel drive at their command the British duo should be capable of a top 10 finish. They will ably assisted by Volkswagen young guns Edoardo Mortaro and Franck Mailleux.
Volkswagen will enter three Golf24s into the 24 hour race, all wearing a 35 in their number to signify the 35th anniversary of the Golf GTI. Completing the lineup for VW will be a pair of Scirocco GT24-CNG machines.
More from Volkswagen Motorsport after the break.
24-Hour Race NÃ¼rburgring 2011
High-calibre driver squad for the spectacular Golf24
Wolfsburg (28 April 2011). Big names for the comeback: When the Volkswagen Golf returns to the legendary 24-hour race on the NÃ¼rburgring-Nordschleife (23â€“26 June) well-known Volkswagen drivers like RenÃ© Rast and Peter Terting will be joined on the grid by former Formula 1 racers Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell as well as DTM driver Edoardo Mortara. The spectacular Golf24 with a power output of 440 hp and four-wheel drive will make its racing debut in the â€œGreen Hellâ€ as early as at the NÃ¼rburgring Endurance Championship this weekend.
“We’ve managed to put together a very strong driver line-up for the 24-hour race,â€ says Volkswagen Motorsport Director Kris Nissen. “With Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell joining our ranks we have two former Formula 1 racers competing for us whose track records include victories at the Le Mans 24 Hours. Both contested the Volkswagen Scirocco R-Cup as Legends in 2010. So it’s fitting that on the Golf GTI’s 35th anniversary they compete on the Nordschleife which, like the GTI itself, is truly a legend. With our other driver line-up we’re perfectly set. All of our drivers have plenty of experience on the world’s toughest race track and will give everything to make a strong showing at the eagerly awaited 24-hour race.â€
Two Volkswagen Scirocco GT24-CNG cars complement the Volkswagen line-up
In addition to the three Golf24, Volkswagen’s factory commitment includes two Scirocco GT24-CNG cars with which the Wolfsburg-based squad celebrated a one-two-three finish in the class of vehicles with alternative power-trains. At the wheel will be Volkswagen’s Management Board Member Dr Ulrich Hackenberg, who is responsible for technical development, former DTM driver Vanina Ickx plus journalists Peter Wyss (Automobil Revue) and Bernd Ostmann (auto, motor und sport). The cockpit of the second Scirocco GT24-CNG powered by eco-conscious bio natural gas will be shared by the “Dakarâ€ winners Giniel de Villiers (winner in 2009) and Nasser Al-Attiyah (2011) and the former DTM racer Klaus Niedzwiedz.
Strong mix: young guns, seasoned campaigners and legends in the Golf24
Volkswagen will field three Golf24 cars at the 24-hour race in June. The car designated as number 35 will be driven by RenÃ© Rast, Volkswagen Junior and winner of the 2010 Porsche Supercup, Nicki Thiim, the son of former DTM champion Kurt Thiim, who most recently was successful with Volkswagen at the 24-hour race on the NÃ¼rburgring, plus the former DTM and World Championship driver Peter Terting, who is a firm component of Volkswagen’s 24-hour driver squad as well. “I’m looking forward to the race because due to its atmosphere and history it’s an absolute highlight,â€ says Rast, who participates in the one-day classic in the Eifel for the second time. “After not being able to run due to conflicting commitments in the past two years, it’s great to be returning this year in the Golf24. The car is incredibly good fun to drive and was very fast in the initial tests.â€
Car number 135 will be driven by the Swede Fredrik Ekblom and the two Germans Thomas Mutsch and Patrick Simon, who are thoroughly familiar with the Nordschleife. “It’s a great honour to be able to contest the 24-hour race in the new Golf24. The car not only looks fantastic but also handles that way,â€ says Ekblom, who was victorious in last year’s Swedish Touring Car Championship with Volkswagen. “The race on the Nordschleife is unique. Its importance has continually increased in the past few years and the field is sensational. This will be my third run, so I know that you can’t make any predictions. Anything is possible on the Nordschleife.â€
The number 235 Golf24 has a prominent crew in the cockpit. It is occupied by the Formula 1 legends Johnny Herbert and Mark Blundell who take turns with two young guns from Volkswagen’s formula school. Edoardo Mortara won the Formula 3 Euro Series in 2010 and is driving for Audi in the DTM in 2011. After a career in Formula 3, Franck Mailleux established himself as a sports car racer, at the Le Mans 24 Hours among others. “The 24-hour race on the Nordschleife is a big thing. I’m very much looking forward to it,â€ says Johnny Herbert. “I clinched my last Formula 1 victory on the Grand Prix circuit of the NÃ¼rburgring in 1999, so I always like coming back to the Eifel track. The NÃ¼rburgring has a very special meaning for me.â€
First tests in the Endurance Championship
The Volkswagen Golf24 will make its racing debut on Saturday (30 April) at the second round of the NÃ¼rburgring Endurance Championship (VLN). Fredrik Ekblom, Franck Mailleux and Peter Terting will be contesting the 4-hour race. Further tests with varying driver squads are also planned at the following two Endurance Championship rounds.