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Special Event Guide: The iRacing Nurburgring 24 Hours

One of the toughest events on the iRacing special event calendar, here’s all you need to know about the Nurburgring 24 hours.

As we power through the 2024 iRacing special event calendar, one of the most challenging events on the iRacing special events calendar approaches – the mighty Nurburgring 24 Hours.

The Nurburgring 24 Hours is one of the world’s most unforgiving encounters, held at the fearsome 25.3-kilometre Nordschleife circuit. Unsuspecting drivers are at the mercy of the unpredictable weather conditions that stalk the Eifel Mountain region of Germany, which could affect only a small section of the huge venue at any one time, and with entries made up of the IMSA GT3, GT4, TCR, and Porsche Cup categories, you will also have to navigate multi-class racing on top of the already challenging stage that is set.

When Is The Nurburgring 24 Hours Held?

The iRacing Nurburgring 24 Hours traditionally takes place in the second week of May, two weeks before the real-life event. In 2024, it will be held on May 17-19. Typically, series within iRacing such as the VRS Sprint will bring drivers to the Nurburgring on the week of the 24 hours, giving you the opportunity to practice before the main event. 

On race day, there will be a total of four time slots that can be entered, with each being chosen so that sim racers all over the world have the opportunity to compete in the 

How Is The Nurburgring 24 Hours Structured?

iRacing sets up the different splits so that wherever you are in the world, there will always be a fixture that fits around your schedule.

  • The late Friday GMT split is ideal for drivers from North and South America as it will take place during the day.
  • The early morning Saturday GMT fixtures are ideal for drivers in the Asia/Australasian regions as they will take place during the day.
  • The 12 PM slot will be when the pro spilt race will take place, so if you are not participating and wish to spectate this is the slot you’ll need to keep in mind. Less experienced drivers may want to give this time a swerve as it will be by far the most populated.
  • The later splits are also handy if you suffer a technical problem or crash out from an earlier race, giving you a second chance to complete the contest.  

The race is set up as a team event with a minimum driver number of two per team, with a maximum of 16 pilots per squad.

  • Download the free Coach Dave Delta app today to access the full range of setups to fight for supremacy whenever you hit the track!

What License Is Needed To Race?

To take part in the iRacing Nurburgring 24 Hours you need to reach a road racing license of at least D level and a safety rating level of at least 4.0. If you possess a C license or higher, it doesn’t matter what safety rating you have.

Here are some key facts to keep in mind:

  • The license you have doesn’t determine which split you are placed in. This will instead be sorted out by your total road racing iRating.
  • You could therefore potentially share a server with drivers that have a higher iRating but a lower license class, so if placed into a high split, don’t assume all your opponents can drive at a pro level.   

The D-level license needed for this contest is straightforward to reach, as progressing from the Rookie license only demands clean and consistent race finishes in a rookie series. 

The extended format of events such as the Nurburgring 24 Hours presents a great chance for huge safety rating gains, as long as you keep consistent and clean throughout each stint. The long-distance nature means that just executing a clean race could potentially allow you to jump multiple license levels in one fell swoop. 

  • If you currently don’t have a high enough license level to take to the grid at the Nurburgring, why not refer to Coach Dave Academy’s license guide so that you work towards getting to the required license level ahead of the race?

What Is The Nurburgring Nordschleife?

The Nurburgring Nordschleife – especially when in its 24H configuration which combines the Nordschleife with the GP circuit designed for Formula 1 racing – is one of the longest and most revered strips of tarmac in the world.

The twisty layout contains an immense 170 corners, all of which have their own character that demands a lot from both driver and machine. The first part of the circuit, which takes place on the GP loop, is by far the easiest with its sweeping turns and large runoffs.

Reality hits quickly though as you pull off onto the Nordschleife after tackling the high-speed chicane at the end of the GP section. Suddenly the run-off disappears, replaced only with narrow strips of grass and endless stretches of metal Armco barrier that waits patiently for its next victim.

The first half of the venue is generally more stop-start, though the terrifyingly quick ‘Schwedenkreuz’ left curve can easily catch you out should you run slightly wide on entry. The bravest drivers can try and make a move on the long run from Bergwerk up to the iconic Karusell. A steeply-banked 180-degree bend, it presents an extra challenge as it has a concrete surface, which affords the driver less grip than the tarmac and is also ultra-bumpy.

The corner also represents a rhythm change for the rest of the track, with the final sector before the two-kilometer Dottinger Hohe being made pretty much exclusively of high-speed turns that demand huge commitment from the driver. The Dottinger represents the best overtaking opportunity of the entire circuit, due to the huge slipstream effect the car ahead gives off.

  • For a full rundown of a lap around the Nurburgring Nordschleife 24h layout, why not check out a hot lap of the circuit by one of Coach Dave Academy’s professional drivers?

The Cars

The Nurburgring 24 Hours is structured as a multi-class event that utilises the GT3, GT4, TCR, and Porsche Cup classes.

GT3

The GT3 class is made up of six GT-based racers which are the fastest vehicles in the competition.

The cars have traction control and ABS, which gives drivers a safety net should they attack the throttle or brake that bit too hard. They also feature a large amount of downforce, meaning they feel great in high-speed bends as well as in slower turns due to these vehicles being set up softer than prototypes, for example.

Their performance is equalised by iRacing’s Balance of Performance (BOP) system.

  • Need to know which GT3 car is the fastest in iRacing? Check out our guide to answer exactly that, here.
Car Key Technical Characteristics
Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IINaturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10, mid-mounted
BMW M4 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six, front-mounted
Ferrari 296 GT3Twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6, mid-mounted
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EvoNaturally-aspirated 5.2-litre V10, mid-mounted
Mercedes-AMG GT3 2020Naturally-aspirated 6.2-litre V8, front-mounted
Porsche 911 GT3 R 992Naturally-aspirated 4.2-litre flat-six, rear-mounted

Porsche Cup

The Porsche Cup class consists of a single vehicle, the Porsche 911 992 GT3 Cup. It is the second fastest vehicle on the track.

Unlike its 992 GT3.R sibling, the 992 GT3 Cup is built from the outset to race against other similar machines, rather than in a mixed class. In iRacing, the vehicle doesn’t come with either ABS or TC, making it harder to be consistent with over a stint.

It also produces less downforce and power than the GT3 car, meaning it’ll also be slower over a full lap.

GT4

The GT4 class currently consists of five vehicles in the service, the category slotting in between the Porsche Cup and TCR vehicles in terms of lap speed.

The GT4 regulations force the cars to be built very closely to their road-going counterparts, meaning they share very similar powertrains. Compared to their more capable GT3 cousins, GT4 vehicles produce very little downforce, so they rely primarily on mechanical grip from the suspension setup and tyres to make their lap time.    

They do feature both TC and ABS systems, so are relatively easy to control under braking and acceleration.

CarKey technical characteristics
Aston Martin Vantage GT4Front-engined layout, turbocharged 4.0-litre V8
BMW M4 GT4Front-engined layout, turbocharged 3.0-litre straight-six
McLaren 570S GT4Mid-engined layout, twin-turbocharged 3.8-litre V8 
Mercedes-AMG GT4  Front-engined layout, twin-turbocharged 4.0-litre V8 
Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 ClubsportMid-engined layout, naturally-aspirated 3.8-litre flat-six

TCR

The final category you’ll be sharing the track with is the TCR touring car class. Made up of four different vehicles, these front-wheel-driven machines all feature two-litre turbocharged engines.

Like the GT4s, these cars feature very little in the way of downforce and are set up to be as loose at the rear as possible. This helps rotate the vehicle as the driver can’t use the rear wheels to help turn the car and also helps to save the front tyres by taking some of the pressure away from them.

CarKey technical characteristics
Audi RS 3 LMSRear-wheel drive, front-engined layout, turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four
Honda Civic Type RFront-wheel drive, Front-engined layout, turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four
Hyundai Elantra N TCFront-wheel drive, front-engined layout, turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four 
Hyundai Veloster N TCFront-wheel drive, front-engined layout, turbocharged 2.0-litre inline-four 

Race Format and Strategy

The grid for each split will decided by one of iRacing’s customary qualifying sessions that run over eight minutes and grant two fast laps. One driver from each team must be designated to qualify the car, though the driver who takes the start can be different from the one that qualifies.

The race will then get underway with a rolling start procedure.

Track Conditions

The Nurburgring 24-Hour event features dynamic weather, so the grip from the road available to you will change as the race develops. The level of cloud cover can greatly affect the level of grip on the tarmac, so you need to have your wits about you. And, with the groundbreaking introduction of rain to the iRacing service with the 2024 Season 2 update, you might just have to keep your eye on the weather radar, too.

Track grip will also increase throughout the race as rubber is laid down, which will affect tyre wear and potentially the car balance.

  • Making sure race runs have been completed in different conditions is key, as you can make decisive – and correct – tyre pressure and general setup tweaks as the weather shifts
  •  Car balance can shift significantly if not done properly, potentially reducing raw pace and driver confidence
  • A close eye must be kept on track temperatures, as you will need to alter your driving style to get the most grip and life from the tyres as the temps change

Consistency

Consistency is a crucial ingredient to scoring a good result in a long-distance race, as without this element your car likely won’t make it to the end in the same condition it started it. That is even more important in the Nurburgring 24 hours.

  • Establishing a strong rhythm means you’ll be less likely to make a mistake, as you’re keeping the car nicely within its limit – remember slower is frequently faster!
  • The less consistently you drive, the more likely you are to not be looking after the tyres/brakes, costing you speed at the back end of each stint

If you feel you need to brush up on your driving technique, why not take a look at Coach Dave Academy’s brand new Never Lift guide, which is full of driving tips that will help you get the very most out of yourself out on track?

Variables

Being a multi-class event means you will need to take care of faster or slower classes that you share the track with.

  • Try to leave as many moves as possible until the straights as this mitigates risk, though due to the tight nature of the circuit, this is difficult
  • Position your car clearly on the side of the circuit you wish to overtake, though bear in mind the slower car should always remain on the racing line
  • The pace differential between GT3 and Porsche Cup is fairly small in some areas, so thinking well ahead of a passing attempt will pay dividends
  • It’ll be harder to get into a rhythm in a multi-class race due to always having to watch your mirrors or navigate slower traffic, so remaining calm and decisive in your driving will help your final result

Being able to apply these elements to your race craft will ensure that you have the best possible chance of out-thinking the competition across a stint, leading to a better race finish.

Keeping the car clean and in a competitive condition for the opening 20 hours or so will prove critical to the final result, endurance victories are rarely decided before this point!  Beyond this marker, any remaining performance must be maximised to ensure you’re team is in the best position to secure a great result.

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