Hyundai Motorsport scores third consecutive class 1-2 in 2023 Nürburgring 24 Hours.
- Hyundai Motorsport’s pair of i30 Sedan N TCR finished first and second in class at the Nürburgring 24 Hours, clinching a third consecutive 1-2 result at the famously arduous race
- The driver combination of Mikel Azcona, Marc Basseng and Manuel Lauck successfully defending their title from 2022, completing two more laps of the 25km track than a year ago
- The Hyundai Driving Experience team scored a dramatic victory in the VT2 Front class after dominating with the i30 Fastback N Cup Car
Hyundai Motorsport-entered i30 Sedan N TCR have finished 1-2 in the TCR class of the Nürburgring 24 Hours for the third consecutive year, after a superb performance in the famously challenging race.
The pair of cars finished 26th and 29th respectively with Mikel Azcona, Marc Basseng and Manuel Lauck taking the #830 i30 Sedan N TCR to victory in the class, successfully defending their 2022 title, adding further to the history of Hyundai at the Nürburgring Nordschleife.
The trio were the dominant in the TCR field. Marc Basseng wasted little time on the opening lap before taking the lead before departing the Grand Prix for the Nordschleife. He was then able to break away during a congested opening few laps to a small but significant lead, with his team-mates only added to in subsequent stints. The performance of the i30 Sedan N TCR was clear on the unique demands of the fearsome 25km circuit.
Late in the race - when already several laps ahead - Mikel Azcona was able to lower the event race lap record for the TCR class to 8:58.232. The crew completed 147 laps, eclipsing their 2022 tally of 145.
The second i30 Sedan N TCR in the race was crewed by four Nürburgring 24 Hours debutants, normally found racing their car in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for Bryan Herta Autosport. Mason Filippi, Harry Gottsacker, Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis rose to the significant challenge and closely shadowed their more experienced team-mates for much of the race as the finished well clear of their rivals in the category.
Despite the apparent dominance, both TCR cars suffered late scares. Azcona found himself squeezed to the outside of the Pflanzgarten right-hander as he attempted to pass a pair of slower runners, with only fast reaction avoiding potentially disastrous contact. Later, at the same corner, with Filippi aboard the #831 was tapped into a half spin by a faster car at the apex, though fortunately Filippi was able to recover without any and damage or major delay.
The #830 also underwent a precautionary driveshaft change with four hours remaining, as the team aimed to safeguard their class victory. Their margin was large enough that they could complete the work and still keep the class lead ahead of the #831 crew. However, this lead was narrowed still further by a front-left puncture for the European team that forced an unscheduled pitstop on the very next lap.
Happily, there was no further damage or delay to either car, and Lauck was able to cross the line in a formation finish with Michael Lewis aboard the #831 to seal a third consecutive 1-2 finish in the class for Hyundai Motorsport.
There was worse late drama for the VT2 Front class-dominating #527 i30 Fastback N. The all-German team of Michael Bohrer, Gerrit Holthaus, Tobias Overbeck and Marcus Willhardt had been faultless from the moment Bohrer took the start of what would be a triple stint. They pulled away at the top of their class, despite time lost to an early puncture, eventually building a 17-lap advantage over their nearest rivals. However, with less than two hours to go the car developed a mechanical problem that left it stranded in the garage, seemingly unable to complete the final racing lap needed to be classified. However, as the time remaining neared zero the Hyundai Driving Experience-entered car returned to the track clinching the victory their remarkable result deserved.
The second of the team’s entries, the #525 shared between Jens Dralle, Byunghui Kang, Junesung Park and Jeff Ricca, had several minor incidents in a busy opening portion of the race, including contact with a GT3 entrant at turn one that forced the car back into the garage for over two hours of repairs. Though they were able to re-join the race a second - more serious - incident brought their race to a premature end just before 07:00.
2023 Nürburgring 24 Hours final standings
#830 Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR – Azcona/Basseng/Lauck - 147 laps – 26th position – 1st in TCR class
#831 Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR – Filippi/Gottsacker/Hagler/Lewis - 146 laps – 29th position – 2nd in TCR class
#527 Hyundai i30 N Fastback N Cup Car – Bohrer/Holthaus/Overbeck/Willhardt - 123 laps – 68th position – 1st in VT2 Front class
#525 Hyundai i30 N Fastback N Cup Car – Dralle/Kang/Park/Ricca - 65 laps – Did not Finish
Hyundai Vice President N Brand & Motorsport Till Wartenberg said: “I really want to congratulate the team. It was a smooth race actually - no rain, no hail, no fog - so they were able to show what they can do. In every class we entered, we won. It was another great event with The win in VT2 Front with Hyundai i30 Fastback N Cup Car and a third consecutive 1-2 in TCR with two Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR. Victory at the Nürburgring in the TCR class and the VT2 Front class is incredibly important for everyone involved with Hyundai, Hyundai Motorsport and the N brand. We have strong relationship with the circuit – this is where N brand road cars are honed to be as durable as we’ve seen today. Everyone knows that N stands for Nürburgring and for Namyang, so this race is always a homecoming for us and every year want to do something special for our fans, our communities and our guests and when you win with that support of course, it’s great.”
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrea Cisotti said: “Every year the Nürburgring 24 Hours presents us with a formidable challenge, and though 2023 did not have the treacherous weather and uncertain conditions we have seen before the relentless pace of the race presented its own difficulties. The strength of the Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR was clear from the very start of the race, and we have improved the benchmark for TCR performance in the race. Of course, none of that would be possible without the drivers and team who performed flawlessly. Mikel, Marc and Manuel were every bit as quick and reliable as we expected, and the pace of the four Bryan Herta Autosport drivers was truly impressive given than none of them had raced on the Nürburgring Nordschleife before the start of this year.”
Mikel Azcona said: “The 2023 Nürburgring 24 Hours was the most challenging and most difficult race I have ever done in my career. With so many compressions over a lap you can get a really bad feeling for your stomach so I opted not to do double stints; it’s a real challenge both mentally and physically, even with the Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR. I did have a very intense moment in the night. I was relaxed and everything was going well, but in fact I was too relaxed as suddenly I was on the grass at 130kph just six feet from the wall and I did damage the rim – but fortunately the tyre didn’t puncture and I could keep on going. For my quickest lap in the race it was only when I crossed the line and saw the display that I realised it was such a good one. There wasn’t much traffic for that lap, but I didn’t feel like I was really on it. I’d like to thank everyone at Hyundai Motorsport and my team-mates: It’s incredible to be a two-time winner in this incredible event.”
Mason Filippi said: “Firstly, I have to thank Hyundai for such an amazing opportunity. From the moment we jumped into the Hyundai i30 Sedan N TCR, we were able to learn so much and improve for this event; we really had the fast-track to get better. The whole event is just an incredible challenge with the lack of sleep, making sure you're focusing on eating, drinking, sleeping, doing everything you can to be out there and perform. Mentally, I don't think I've ever been so beat in a race car before. It was quite some moment late in the race when I realised the car behind wasn’t going to brake: I was thinking was let's not hit this wall right now! I just immediately corrected as I heard him get back on the throttle to get the power down. Luckily, our i30 Sedan N TCR handles really well; you get that front wheel drive turn in the right direction everything slows down immediately in that in that moment. It’s been a great event for us so thanks to everyone including my team and team-mates. I want to start training already to come back again next year.”
Marcus Willhardt said: “We didn't push the Hyundai i30 Fastback N Cup Car too hard with the lap times yet we were not only fast but consistently fast for the race. At the end, we were experiencing an issue with the car, but with 17 laps ahead of our nearest class rival we were able to pit and only go out again at the end. You have to remember that this car has already done two 24-hour races and three NLS races with the same engine and everything else stock: I don’t know of any other standard car that would have this kind of durability or capability.”
Jeff Ricca said: “It was an honour to be here with Hyundai to represent such a great brand at the largest and toughest race in the world. There's so much energy and emotion that goes into this race and the preparations that all the teams do. For our race with the Hyundai i30 N Fastback Cup Car to just stop suddenly, without notice, was like a freight train coming to a wall type of emotion. I was deeply upset, but at the same time I’m so grateful to be part of something so great. It's such a tough race and it’s difficult to describe the changes that take place on track. There's so much going on in this race that just to get across the finish line is a win. And I really wish we did that, but this year it was not to be.”