The Japanese tyre manufacturer Yokohama enjoyed what can only be described as a superb result at this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hour race at the famous Nordschleife circuit. The two works Aston Martin V8 Vantage N24s achieved their objective, with one car completing the race in 18th place overall and the other in 27th, taking first and third in their class. And no less than 25% of the field used the manufacturer’s tyres, with two of the three overall podium positions being filled with Yokohama-shod cars.
This year’s event saw a typically huge field of 207 cars start the race, which was punctuated with rainstorms and wet weather, making tyre selection and driving conditions extremely difficult.
The first of the two cars run by Aston Martin as part of its development program for the Vantage N24 model enjoyed a relatively trouble-free run. The car christened ‘Rose’, driven by Oliver Matthai, Matthew Marsh and Japanese journalist Shin-Ichi Katsura finished the race in 18th place and took the win in the SP8 class, with 135 laps completed. The same car finished last year’s event 24th, so this result demonstrates the advances the Aston Martin works team has made over the closed season.
The second N24, named ‘Kermit’ due to its bright green paintwork, was driven by Aston Martin’s Chief Executive Officer Dr. Ulrich Bez, Program Manager Chris Porritt and development driver Wolfgang Schuhbauer and partnered by British journalist Richard Meaden. It was running ahead of Rose for most of the race but was involved in a small accident, when another competitor turned across in front of it and the driver was unable to avoid contact.
However, despite a time loss of 20 minutes while the Aston Martin crew repaired a broken steering arm, the car continued and went on to record third in the SP8 class and 26th overall, with 132 laps recorded by the finish.
The result was even more significant, as the race began the day after Aston Martin opened its new, dedicated workshop facility at the circuit. Situated opposite its tyre partner Yokohama’s own unit, this allows the marque to develop its range of products and where appropriate, in conjunction with Yokohama.
The overall statistics for Yokohama ADVAN were equally impressive. 53 of the 207 starters were running the company’s tyres, 25.6% of the field. Half of the top ten used ADVAN tyres, including second and third overall. 39 of the 53 starters on Yokohama ADVAN tyres finished the event and the winner in nine of the classes were also fitted with Yokohama tyres – an outstanding achievement at one of the world’s most arduous races.
Finishing the event in second overall, the number two Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR was fitted with development versions of the ADVAN A006 wet weather racing tyre and according to Yokohama, this performed extremely well. The Yokohama engineers reported that the tyre helped the team’s performance and that the information gained this weekend will go forward to the next generation ADVAN A006, which is also the control wet weather tyre for the FIA World Touring Car Championship.
Third place overall went to the ADVAN-shod Abbelen Porsche, car number 121, which included in its driver line-up renowned Nordschleife expert and former lap record-holder, Sabrine Schmitt. British car fans may remember her from the BBC’s Top Gear program, where Sabrine impressed Jeremy Clarkson by almost beating his best time around the circuit, driving a Ford Transit van. The Abbelen Porsche 997 used just six sets of tyres throughout the course of the race, clocking up 3677Km and 145 laps in the 24-hour period and drawing critical acclaim from the drivers.