Motorsport News - Sportscar
Shane Lewis Returns to Nürburgring 24 with Aston Martin
16th May 2012
in Pursuit of Second Title
America's Nürburgring Wizard to Make 33rd-Career 24-Hour Race Start
Shane Lewis never set out to become America's premier race car driver at Germany's renowned Nürburgring. However, in just four 24 Hours of Nürburgring (2004, '05, '10, '11) and two Nürburgring Six Hours starts ('09, '11) as well as an American Le Mans Series race on the Grand Prix course ('00), the Jupiter, Fla.-resident has racked up a 24 Hour win ('10), two Six Hour victories ('09, '11) and two other 24 Hour podiums ('04, '10). It all amounts to an outstanding 86 percent podium success rate at Nürburgring! The May 19-20 ADAC Zurich 24 Hours of Nürburgring can further establish Lewis as America's ultimate ace on the 15.753-mile (25.359 km), 73-turn Nordschleife. For the 40th anniversary running of the race, Lewis will re-team with longtime co-driver Vic Rice (San Rafael, CA) as well as Germans Karl Pflanz and Kim Hauschild in the No. 60 Hamburg Racing Team (HRT) Aston Martin Vantage N24.
Shane Lewis will challenge for his second Nürburgring 24 Hours in the HRT Aston Martin Vantage. Image courtesy of John Dagys.
The ALMS and GRAND-AM race winner will be attempting his 33rd-career 24-hour race start when he travels to the track nicknamed the "Green Hell". Lewis has added two 24-hour races to his resume already this season. He opened the year with a debut in the 24 Hour of Dubai in January driving the HRT Aston Martin for the first time. He finished fifth driving the No. 125 Aston with the same driver lineup he will race with at Nürburgring. He followed that with his 15th Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona start where he ran near the top-five much of the event in a GT class Porsche 911 GT3 Cup.
Success at Nürburgring does not come easily. Even with the massive competition of up to 250 cars possible on the grid, it is the legendary venue that makes this among the most prestigious of all endurance races to win. Begun in 1970, the race has grown significantly. To go 24 hours without any substantial run-in or mechanical issue demands nearly superhuman driving skill. Unlike most circuits, it is nearly impossible for a driver to learn every nuance of the Nordschleife - translated to "North Swipe" as the full circuit takes not only the Grand Prix course familiar to Formula One fans but also a daunting additional stretch into the woods surrounding the track. Due to its length and number of turns, memorizing the circuit, its braking points, turn-in points and exit mark for each corner demands years of experience. Lewis took to it immediately allowing his natural and honed skill to feel a car take command. The tactic paid-off handsomely as the California-native began to wrack-up success after success. In fact, of his seven different starts on both circuits, Lewis has only failed to podium a single time.
Lewis finished third in his first attempt (2004) and returned the following year for his only finish off the podium when a teammate crashed out of the event early. In 2010, he took the Super Production class title with the Götz Motorsports Audi.
Shane Lewis is a multiple-time race winner in the American Le Mans Series and Rolex Grand-Am Series. In 2010, he raced to runner-up in the ALMS GTC Championship. He has raced every major class of sports car in every major international series.
On the significance of racing in the Nürburgring 24: "I have been fortunate to race all over the world but this track and this event is the one I look forward to the very most. I don't care as much about how many 24-hour races I do. To me, it's more how well I do in them. This being my 33rd 24-hour race is pretty significant, I suppose, but the real thing to me is competing with the best drivers, in the best cars on the best tracks. Nürburgring is that and then some!"
Shane Lewis ready for 33rd-career
24-hour race. Image by John Dagys
On his desire to succeed at Nürburgring: "It starts with a love and a passion for racing. Then, add in the most demanding 24-hour race in the world. This race, and especially this track, the Nordschleife, demands the utmost respect and commitment. You can't approach it with anything less. I do well here because I want it more than most others. I want to be the American that the Germans respect.
There is no place like Nürburgring in all of the world. There is no other place so special, so demanding, so intimidating and so rewarding all in just one lap. The reason the Germans do so well here is that you have to live this track, not just drive it. They live it. I live it!"
On the 2012 Nürburgring 24: "This year will be tougher than ever to get on the podium. The Aston Martin is a great car but the class is filled with top manufacturers and teams gunning for the victory. We had some mechanical issues in Dubai that we can't afford here. The HRT team is working very hard to make sure we don't have those same issues again. But at 'The Ring', everything has to be perfect to even finish, let alone score a podium. We have our work cut out for us."
For more on Shane Lewis, visit: ShaneLewis.com. Follow Shane Lewis on Twitter @Go_Shane_Go and Facebook at Shane Lewis - Athlete.
To follow the 24 Hours of Nürburgring live timing and scoring, visit 24h-rennen.de.
Listen live to practice, qualifying and the race at RadioLeMans.com.
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