Ahead of this weekend’s ADAC Zurich 24-Hour Race (27-28 May 2017) Falken Motorsports’ Peter Dumbreck explains the teams approach to perhaps the biggest event in German motorsport
For this year’s Nürburgring 24 Hours, Falken Motorsports will field a two-car team for the first time: a Porsche 911 GT3 R (Type 991) and a BMW M6 GT3. An internal battle between the two has ensued, with Falken driver and ‘Nürburgring expert’, Peter Dumbreck, opting to switch to the M6. The Banbury-based driver discusses the unique challenges of the race, his move from the Porsche to the BMW, how tyres compare on the two and his aims for the race.
How has progress been in testing this year?
With two cars we’ve had a different approach for each car. The Porsche is a continuation from the end of last year and as we are better acquainted with it, it’s been a natural progression from last year. At this year’s VLN it came out of the blocks and was fighting for victory straight away. So from that side the Porsche is doing very well. The BMW is a new car to us and we are all still learning, both drivers and tyre engineers.
At Portimão, where we shook down the cars, and at the first VLN race the conditions were pretty wet, so we had no dry running at all really. You get a pretty good sense of where you are after 20 laps of wet running. The first two VLN races are a good test to fix where you want to go on setup and tyres and our engineers really value that track time ahead of the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
The one unknown, which is the same in every form of motorsport, is the BOP [Balance of Performance], I’d say the dreaded BOP. Only at the 24-hour race will you really see what the pace is like and how all the manufacturers are performing.
What are the key differences between the BMW and Porsche?
With it being rear engine, the Porsche is a very physical car to drive and it tends to move around quite bit. It’s also quite a short car as well compared to the M6, so I find it’s got a good bit of grunt through the corners. The M6 has a greater amount of downforce through the medium to sharp corners so you can carry more speed through those faster turns, whereas in the Porsche you may brake and go down a gear. In some places in the M6, you don’t even brake you just lift in sixth gear! So the M6 is stronger in the medium and fast corners but the Porsche fights back in the tighter sections. Falken has set this up as a battle and I genuinely think it will be.
How do tires compare between the cars? Is the Porsche harder on tires, for example?
As the engine is in the back of the Porsche there is higher tire wear on the rear axle and you feel that on the Grand Prix circuit with a bit more oversteer. All in all there isn’t a massive difference, but I suppose one of the big differences is in the tires themselves. We are using the rear tires from the Porsche and putting them on all four corners of the BMW. That shows how good the tire is to perform on both cars. The front tires on the Porsche are smaller and is probably one of the reasons as to why we can go faster around the corners with the M6.
What is the BMW like to drive? Which do you prefer?
I think it is too early to say which I prefer. I have spent a lot of time driving the Porsche and I got my best result in the 24-hour race in the Porsche in 2015. It’s always going to be a car that is close to my heart. But I requested to drive the M6 this year. I just felt that I wanted a change and to try something different.
So, is the objective to win?
It goes without saying that we would love to go out and win the race and from Falken’s point of view it has doubled its chances. It doesn’t matter which car wins. It has good crews in both cars. Personally, of course I want to win. The first target has to be taking a podium. Actually, to be honest, the first target for me is putting in good times, doing a good job, staying out of trouble and watching us gradually move to the front! The end result is the end result, as long as I have done a good job then what will be will be. I’ve been in this sport long enough to know that a certain amount of luck is involved so I keep my feet on the ground and just do my job.