KCMG and Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver Alessio Picariello will take on the 49th edition of Nürburgring 24 Hours this weekend.
125 cars are entered in the classic Eifel endurance race, 38 of which are from Porsche to make it the most represented marque on the grid, including eight in the SP9 category for GT3 cars. As also one of the most successful brands at the Green Hell, Porsche aims to add to its tally of 12 wins at the 24 Hours after taking victory in the ADAC Qualification Race and the two Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie (NLS) races in preparation for the main event.
Belgian racer Picariello is in his second year as the Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver, receiving support for his season and training from former Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen. Following his 2020 success where he won the European Le Mans Series title in his maiden GTE campaign, the 27-year-old was placed on a Nordschleife programme, which included running in NLS as preparation for his 24 Hours debut, with Falken Motorsports.
The Schnabl Engineering-run team and its iconic turquoise and blue colours are synonymous with racing at the Green Hell, with Picariello running in the #44 Porsche 911 GT3 R alongside Klaus Bachler, Martin Ragginger (the driver with the highest win tally in Porsche Carrera Cup Asia) and factory driver Sven Müller. He will also make his maiden 24 Hours of Le Mans appearance later in the year.
Flying the flag for Hong Kong is KCMG in its second campaign with the German manufacturer. The team’s line-up includes 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Alexandre Imperatori, who will be entering his eighth Nürburgring 24 Hours. Alongside the Swiss in the #18 machine is Marco Holzer, Josh Burdon and Edoardo Liberati. The quartet also utilised two NLS rounds in the build-up to the 24 Hours, taking a top 10 finish in May’s Qualification Race.
The team will run a new livery this weekend, which harkens back to its 24 Hours of Le Mans LMP2 victory in 2015.
Track action will begin on Thursday with two Qualifying sessions before Qualifying 3 and Top Qualifying on Friday. The race will start at 15:30 local time on Saturday.
Alessio Picariello, #44 Falken Motorsports: “I’m really looking forward to this huge challenge, probably the biggest of my racing career. We all know how tough the Nürburgring is but I was really happy to make my debut there this year, especially with such a team as Falken Motorsports. We have a very strong line-up with Klaus, Martin and Sven who are all absolute rockets and have a lot of experience here. I am more of a newcomer to the team but I will do my best to perform at their level, keep it on track and see where we end up.”
Sascha Maassen, former Porsche factory driver: “Alessio joined the Porsche family with no experience in one of their cars, but a great racing history and obvious talent. Despite the pandemic, he has managed to win races and a championship and convinced Porsche to suggest him for a Nordschleife programme, where he also had little experience but Alessio has the ability to learn quickly. He’s a hard worker and humble enough to realise he is not always fastest right away. That has earnt him a good reputation. As always in motorsport, you need to prove yourself at every new event. That makes the life of a racing driver hard but also very rewarding and the Nordschleife is probably the biggest challenge Alessio has faced so far.”
Marco Holzer, #18 KCMG: “I’m super excited to be taking on one of the most challenging races of the year. I was the newcomer to the team for 2021 but we’re working incredibly well together and have put in a lot of effort to build a strong package with Porsche over the last few months so I can’t wait to be back at the Green Hell. I’m very glad to see the fans back at the Nürburgring. It won’t quite be like old times with the barbecues and the bonfires on the camping sites during the night, but nonetheless it’s great to have some spectators again.”
Josh Burdon, #18 KCMG: “Race week for the Nürburgring 24 Hours is always an exciting time. The team has been working hard but we are under no illusions that this will be a tough race. One mistake on-track could end our whole weekend, it’s not unusual for several cars to not even start the race so we need to make sure we bring home a result first and foremost.”
Edoardo Liberati, #18 KCMG: “We’re all very aware of the extreme challenge this race presents, and we cannot wait to tackle it. The circuit itself is very tricky to master but then when you add in the traffic and next to no visibility during the night, it’s easy to see why just finishing this race is an achievement in itself. But we have high expectations for ourselves so I cannot wait to get started.”
Alexandre Imperatori, #18 KCMG: “The big race is finally here. This will be my eighth time at this event so hopefully I can put that experience to good use. The Nürburgring 24 Hours is always special, anything can happen. It will also be great to see the fans for the first time this year, we’ll be aiming to put on a good show for them.”
Paul Ip, KCMG Founder: “It is a joy to see our car fighting in the premier class of one of the most famous motorsport events in the world associated with such an iconic manufacturer as Porsche. KCMG will be one of just two Asian teams in the SP9 category and we proudly display the Hong Kong flag on our cars. Like many other teams have faced, the preparations for this race have been interrupted by cancelled events but we are anticipating a strong weekend. We have a great line-up in the form of Marco, Josh, Edo and Alex and we’re very much looking forward to the event. We’re also marking our indelible history in motorsport with the return of the chrome livery. It’s a throwback to one of our most popular cars and we see the same spirit in our team for this weekend.”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “This is the first major global endurance race of the year for our customers, so we are certainly looking forward to seeing both Alessio and KCMG on the track. The Nürburgring 24 Hours represents one of motorsport’s greatest challenges with an extremely tough circuit. Alessio has risen to the task superbly despite only making his Nordschleife debut this year and we’re delighted to be working closely with KCMG for a second year.”
Qualifying 1 – 12:30
Qualifying 2 – 20:30
Qualifying 3 – 13:25
Top Qualifying – 17:50
Warm-up – 11:15
Race start – 15:30