The 50th running of the Nürburgring 24 Hours was a predictably action-packed event that drew a 230,000 strong crowd of people, all eager to get back to watching the race they love in ‘normal’ conditions after the disruptions of 2020 (limited spectators due to Covid) and ’21 (when dense fog caused a 15-hour delay and the race was completed after just 59 laps). Last week, we brought you news of Mercedes-Benz specialist extraordinaire Mechatronik’s ‘works outing’ to the N24 – and we can now report that the team and more than 60 invited clients had a total blast.
The race itself was exciting enough, finally being won by Phoenix Racing Audi after a record-equalling 158 laps (and despite the crew of Robin Frijns, Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch incurring a 32-second penalty for re-fuelling with the engine running). Few other spectators, however, can have made quite such an occasion of the event as the Mechatronik team and its guests. To start with, they arrived in noisy style with an extraordinary trio of angry M-Bs, comprising Mechatronik’s carbon-copy replica of the celebrated AMG Rote Sau or ‘Red Pig’; the unique AMG 450SLC ‘Mampe’ racer from 1978, and a superb example of the road rocket that is the 190E ‘EVO II’.
“We created quite a spectacle, so much so that there were a few occasions when we actually caused traffic jams as a result of people slowing down in order to take pictures of the cars,” Mechatronik’s head of sales, Pascal Stephan, told Classic Driver. “I must admit that the Rote Sau was a bit of a handful in traffic because it has a sintered clutch that isn’t designed for stop-start traffic. In those conditions, the engine also generates a huge amount of heat.
“But on the unrestricted autobahns sections it was amazing. And what really surprised us was that the Rote Sau was more or less as fast as the 190E ‘EVO II’ – albeit a lot more scary at speeds above 200 kph!” Not to be outdone by the Mechatronik fleet, one of the firm’s guests drove to the race all the way from the U.K via the Eurotunnel in a Porsche 962 Group C race car.
“That was really impressive,” said Stephan. “It highlighted to us just how passionate many of our clients are about motorsport and proved that we are definitely doing the right thing by expanding our presence in that area of the business.” The object that perhaps demonstrated the most remarkable ‘endurance,’ however, was not a car, but the high-end race simulator that was available for all guests to use in the Mechatronik trackside lounge.
“It proved to be incredibly popular. Naturally we ran it with the Nordschleife circuit, and the simulator was actually in use non-stop for more hours than the race lasted and for a longer distance – by the time we shut it down, the odometer had clocked 4,500 kilometres.”Equally impressive is the best lap time that was recorded – a decidedly professional six minutes, 23.7 seconds that was achieved by a driver aged just 17. The stellar performance won him a 1:12 scale Auto Art model valued at around 500 Euros.
“I think what most of the clients appreciated most was the shuttle service that we arranged for taking them to different parts of the track throughout the event – the organisation of the drivers was really superb, and they got people to all the best spectator spots really close to the action,” says Stephan.
The Mechatronik guests also got to tour the starting grid, the pit lane, and the paddocks – and even spent time in the trackside team boxes. And if being on the ground to see all the action at the Nürburgring hadn’t satisfied their appetite for racing, there was also the chance to watch live TV coverage of the Monaco Grand Prix, which, due to heavy rain and then an electrical failure, started at 16.05 to dovetail perfectly with the finish of the N24.
“It was an incredible weekend for motorsport, because Sunday was also the day of the Indianapolis 500,” says Stephan. “But at some point, we had to pack up and go home.” We’re already looking forward to reporting on next year’s Mechatronik outing – and not least because ‘Project 107’ is likely to be involved. So watch this space.