Nürburgring 24 Hour win the “most challenging of my career” – Mikel Azcona
World Touring Car Cup champion Mikel Azcona says his victory on the Nürburgring 24 Hours was “the most challenging and difficult race” of his career to date.
Alongside team-mates Manuel Lauck and Marc Basseng, Azcona claimed a second successive win in the 24 Hours, finshing an impressive 26th overall out of a field of 135 starters on the demanding Nordschleife.
The trio started on pole, having topped qualifying on the 25k circuit by over 13 seconds and largely dominated throughout, despite a few scares along the way.
“[This] was the most challenging and most difficult race I have ever done in my career,” reflected Azcona post-race.
“With so many compressions over a lap you can get a really bad feeling for your stomach, so I opted not to do double stints; it’s a real challenge both mentally and physically, even with the Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
“I did have a very intense moment in the night. I was relaxed and everything was going well, but in fact I was too relaxed as suddenly I was on the grass at 130kph just six feet from the wall and I did damage the rim – but fortunately the tyre didn’t puncture, and I could keep on going.”
Azcona’s lairy moment over the grass in the middle of the night proved to be the only major concern for the Hyundai trio as they extended their already significant lead when morning arrived.
That said, the #830 crew did undergo what the team called a “precautionary driveshaft change” with four hours remaining, but such was its lead over the sister Hyundai Elantra N TCR that it rejoined comfortably in front.
With the race win all but secured in the closing hours, Azcona then lowered his own lap record.
“For my quickest lap in the race it was only when I crossed the line and saw the display that I realised it was such a good one.
“There wasn’t much traffic for that lap, but I didn’t feel like I was really on it. I’d like to thank everyone at Hyundai Motorsport and my team-mates: It’s incredible to be a two-time winner in this incredible event.”
Mason Filippi, Michael Lewis, Taylor Hagler and Harry Gottsacker made it a Hyundai one-two for the third year in a row.
Hyundai Vice President N Brand & Motorsport Till Wartenberg said: “It was a smooth race actually – no rain, no hail, no fog – so they were able to show what they can do. In every class we entered, we won.
“We have strong relationship with the circuit – this is where N brand road cars are honed to be as durable as we’ve seen today. Everyone knows that N stands for Nürburgring and for Namyang, so this race is always a homecoming for us.”