Hyundai Motorsport readies for Nürburgring 24 Hours with NLS 3 entry
Hyundai Motorsport will continue its preparations for this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours with a single car entry at this weekend’s third round of the Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie (NLS).
The team began their on track preparation by running during the training sessions before NLS 2 earlier this month, but the race entry at NLS 3 steps up a campaign that will also include the Nürburgring 24 Hours Qualifying Race before the 24 Hours itself – scheduled for June 3-6.
This Saturday’s four-hour event will mark the European race debut of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR, following on from starts with the Hyundai USA-supported Bryan Herta Autosport team in recent months. Throughout the development of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR, endurance racing has been a key consideration, with the long-distance package being developed in parallel with the sprint version of the car that will be seen in competition around the world this year, including in TCR Europe and FIA WTCR.
Driving duties for NLS 3 will be split between Manuel Lauck and Marc Basseng. Both can recount a long list of endurance racing successes on the Nürburgring Nordschleife, and have become a familiar part of Hyundai Motorsport’s appearances in the TCR class of the 24 Hours.
The pair was part of the line-ups that took back-to-back runner-up finishes in the class in 2019 and 2020 with the Veloster N TCR. Last year they were part of a thrilling race, narrowly missing out on the class win despite being put a lap down the leader during a red flag bought out for heavy rain and standing water during the night.
Both will also drive the car in the Qualifying Race (May 8-9) and the Nürburgring 24 Hours as part of a three-car Hyundai Motorsport team. Alongside them Peter Terting – another who as was part of the squad that finished second in 2020 – will complete the three-strong line-up in the Hyundai Elantra N TCR for both events. Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing drivers Luca Engstler and Jean-Karl Vernay will be joined by Hyundai Motorsport newcomer Hendrik Still to crew the team’s Hyundai i30 N TCR. For the 24 Hours weekend Engstler and Vernay will perform double-duty, taking on the endurance alongside the WTCR – FIA World Touring Car Cup races at the circuit.
The Hyundai line-up for the two races will be completed by a Hyundai i20 N – closely based on the production car launched in 2020 – running in the SP2T class. The entry will be crewed by three drivers who took a sensational class win in last year’s 24 Hours with the Hyundai i30 Fastback N. Marc Ehret, Markus Lungstrass and Kai Jordan all return from that triumph, with the driving squad completed by journalist Guido Naumann – another familiar name to Hyundai’s team’s at the Nürburgring, having previously driven both the i30 N TCR and i30 Fastback N.
2021 marks the fourth consecutive season for Hyundai Motorsport at the Nürburgring 24 Hours. The first appearances of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and i20 N in the race continue the strong relationship between Hyundai’s high-performance racing and road-going models and the Nürburgring Nordschleife. The N name that proclaims each car was partly inspired by the fearsome track, and extensive testing around the circuit has been a crucial tool in developing the superb handling characteristics that has become one of the trademarks of the road-going models.
For road and race cars alike the Nürburgring remains one of the truest tests of performance and reliability, with the 24-Hours the centre-piece of the endurance racing calendar at the circuit standing as the perfect opportunity to again showcase the capabilities of Hyundai and Hyundai Motorsport.
Vice President and Head of N Brand Management and Motorsport Sub-Division at Hyundai Motor Company, Till Wartenberg said: “The Nürburgring and the N brand have always had a very strong connection, going back to the very earliest development phases of the first high-performance Hyundai models. Now, each year at the Nürburgring 24 Hours we strengthen the ties between our cars – and those built by Hyundai Motorsport – and the circuit. It has become a custom to showcase new additions to the N line-up in the race – first with the i30 N TCR, then the Veloster N TCR and i30 Fastback N, and now with the Elantra N TCR and i20 N. Every year allows us to show the strength and performance of the cars in one of the toughest motorsport events in the world. With each success at the circuit we enhance the standing of the N brand, and learn more than can be used as we further expand and develop our high-performance range.”
Hyundai Motorsport Customer Racing Manager Andrew Johns said: “As a manufacturer we are always searching for ways to show customers the excellent performance of the TCR cars we build, and racing on the Nürburgring Nordschleife is the best way to do this. However, it is clear from all we do that preparation plays a crucial role in each success. Endurance racing comes with its own challenges and unpredictability, so taking advantage of any opportunity to compete before the Nürburgring 24 Hours is vital. Last year we started developing the endurance version of the Hyundai Elantra N TCR and this weekend’s event continues that work in race conditions – all building towards the 24 Hours. Then – and for the Qualifying Race – we will have a full strength team, also including the i30 N TCR, which has already taken great results at the track, so we will have everything in place to mount a strong challenge for victory