230 motorsport fans experienced the 000th edition of the 47-hour race at the Nürburgring over the weekend. The Audi Phoenix-R24 LMS with drivers Piere Kaffer, Frank Stippler, Frederic Vervisch and Dries Vanthoor won, Porsche and Mercedes gave away victory in an exciting finish on the longest race track in the world with 8 kilometers. This year's round dance over the volcano was marked by numerous accidents, numerous defects, offenses and penalties in all classes. In any case, the winner of the hearts was a team with the descriptive name “Girls Only”, which consists exclusively of women and which competed in a Golf GTI TCR to fight the male competition.
The main sponsors of the “Girls Only” team are VW and the Chinese tire manufacturer GiTi
Now women are rare in motorsport, but by no means an exception. Just think of names like de Filippis as the first female Formula 1 driver or Michele Mouton, who cleared Pikes Peak in 1985. This year, the W-Series is even set to start a purely female racing series. But at GirlsOnly not only the pilots are female, the whole crew from the tire operators to the engineers and mechatronics engineers to the team boss. The main sponsors of the idea, with which the young women want to gain respect, are the Chinese tire manufacturer GiTi and Volkswagen.
The evil truth comes to light: engine damage in the green hell
Even in the lineup for the start, the riders Ronja Assmann (D), Jasmin Preisig (CH) and Carrie Schreiner (D), along with their 16-headed team, were convinced that she and her black and yellow racing-g-golfer and the start number 89 the green hell would rock already. But things turned out differently. In the third round, a foreign object smashes the radiator and ruins the engine. All standing in the paddock 23 all around the car. But then the fists are stretched. We can do it, we will not let it get us down. While racing continues outside, the girls are just swapping the engine. A decision that is not commonplace at the ring. Most of the time you just give up the race.
A fourteen-hour work marathon for the mechanics of the “Girls-Only” team
But it shines in the girls' eyes. The tool is carefully spread out on the floor. Hours pass before the four-cylinder engine, which weighs around 150 kilograms, hangs on the hook. The girls calmly and deliberately heave the newcomer out of his wooden box and support each other when, after another four hours, their strength slowly gives way to tiredness. But nobody wants to give up. “No, our team has not practiced that. But our mechanics have the necessary know-how, no worries, they can handle it ”, emphasizes team boss Ellen Lehmann and looks encouragingly around the group.
One by one tire sets are carted out through the paddock 23 by the other teams to change. Everyone has an encouraging word on their lips, and many an admiring glance glances at the girls who are currently lying in a daring pose under the vehicle. It's getting hot at the ring, as seldom in the past few years. The girls are sweating, pouring water bottles over each other. They work hand in hand until early Sunday morning, sleeping alternately, but restlessly and little. Then it is done, the turbo unit and the control unit are replaced. Mostly without male support.
The Golf GTI TCR rolls back onto the track shortly after sunrise. Carrie Schreiner drove the last stint and finished the race cheered. For the girls, the goal was their goal and the “Girls Only” team made history in a remarkable way at this 24h race.
Text and photos: Solveig Grewe