Fog drifts over the Nürburgring and bathes the legendary race track in a mystical light. It still seems to be a normal, albeit a little fresh, Tuesday morning. But that changes suddenly when the first Carrera Cup Germany team trucks slowly roll into the paddock and take up their parking positions in front of the pits on the track. There’s a busy atmosphere in the paddock within minutes. Every move setting up the teams’ garages and unloading the new Porsche 911 GT3 Cup racing cars is done with routine serenity. The teams only took possession of their cars, which are mostly still without liveries, just a few days ago and have now come to the Nürburgring to get to know their new racing machine down to the last detail, over the course of workshops and test sessions for the next 48 hours.
Amid the bustle of the Nebulus Racing by Huber Team setting up its garage, team boss Christoph Huber has a few minutes to chat. For the Bavarian racing manager, whose squad has been competing in the one-make cup since 2016, the new 911 GT3 Cup car marks the beginning of a new era for the series. “We use the rollout event to get to know all the intricacies of the new car in detail,” he tells us. “Of course, these days also serve to sharpen the team up again after a long winter break.” For Huber and his team, the 2021 season is a special challenge – they’ll be defending their title from the previous year.
While the first briefing for the nine team bosses and their chief mechanics takes place in the Nürburgring media centre, the cars are already being prepared in the pits for testing the next day. In front of the HRT-Motorsport garage, two racing mechanics look into the gray sky with a little concern: Will the Eifel weather offer better conditions for tomorrow's running than on this typical Nürburgring day, with fog, rain, sleet and stormy gusts? You have to take it as it comes. This credo also fits perfectly with the friendly and relaxed interaction between the teams. In the late evening, there’s still hustle and bustle in the paddock until the lights go out in the last garage.
Next morning, it turns out the two mechanics needn’t have worried: the sun shines over the start-finish straight as the phalanx of the new 911 GT3 Cup cars are accurately positioned on the track for a group picture with the fully electric safety car, a Porsche Taycan Turbo S – which has already proven during 2020 that it can keep up on full electric power when it matters. Bystanders repeatedly pull out their mobile phones and capture the important moment with a snapshot.
Even Porsche racing legend Olaf Manthey is visibly impressed by the sight of the brand-new racing cars. As early as 1990, in the first season of the championship, he secured overall victory in a 964-generation 911. To this day, he considers the Carrera Cup one of the most demanding racing series there is – as well as being an important motorsport ‘school’: “Compared to racing cars with front engines and rear-wheel drive, a 911 requires its driver to have a completely different driving style in order to be able to be fast.” he explains. “This contributes to the development of the drivers and their skills.”
The weather is stable and the first testing will begin at 10am. It’s this moment that all teams have been working towards for the past few hours. The first 911 GT3 Cups turn their laps with a brutal sound. Meanwhile, the mood in the pits is changing. Every move is still routine, but you can clearly feel the euphoria of everyone here to finally see the new cars in action on track. Last but not least, this routine rests on meticulous preparation for this day and the season ahead. The teams use the months without racing to prepare, and Carrera Cup Germany offers various workshops on many different topics.
It’s no different in the pit of the CarTech Motorsport by Nigrin Team. Team boss David Prusa casually watches his drivers’ first laps wearing pinstripe pants and a team sweatshirt. A Bavarian like Huber, he reveals in a quiet moment that he regards Carrera Cup Germany as the best ‘talent factory’ of all – not only for the drivers, but also for teams. And indeed, if you look around the pits, you not only notice many young talents in the cockpits, but also young people working around their cars. There’s no need to worry about the future of racing.
But even the most exciting test day is drawing to a close faster than the teams and drivers would like. And as fast as the Carrera Cup Germany outfits set up, the last racing cars are reloaded and the caravan of team trucks is on its way home. The farewell isn’t for long, however: the nine teams will meet again on 29 April at the legendary Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. Then the new 911 GT3 Cup will celebrate its official racing premiere at the first round of the Carrera Cup Germany season, supporting the FIA World Endurance Championship round there.
Chairman of Porsche Germany’s board of management Alexander Pollich is also looking forward to the 2021 season: “You can tell how excited the teams are for the start of the season; they can hardly wait to finally field the new 911 GT3 Cup under racing conditions,” he said. “This rollout event is therefore an extremely important part of the season, so that the teams can clarify the last detailed questions about the new racing car with our specialists on site.”
Photos: Mathieu Bonnevie for CD Works © 2021