A total of 144 cars including 28 GT3 machines are set to contest this weekend’s opening round of the 2021 NLS season, representing the first step towards the Nürburgring 24.
The top-flight grid in the SP9 category for GT3 cars includes 23 Pro entries with the three previous winners of the Nürburgring 24 all involved.
Defending winner ROWE Racing is fielding two BMW M6 GT3s in the four-hour ADAC Westfalenfahrt race as part of a seven-car contingent for the Munich manufacturer.
2018 N24 winner Manthey Racing forms part of a eight-car group of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, while 2019 victor Phoenix Racing contributes to Audi’s involvement.
Reigning NLS Speed Trophy champion Walkenhorst Motorsport is running three BMWs, headlined by the No. 34 car driven by the British pairing of David Pittard and Ben Tuck.
The BMW Junior Team is making its debut in SP9 after running in GT4 machinery last year. Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen will be supporteed by Augusto Farfus.
ADAC GT Masters regular Schubert Motorsport completes the BMW entry with a car for Jens Klingmann and Stef Dusseldorp.
Five Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evos are signed up, including Audi Sport-labeled cars for Phoenix and Car Collection Motorsport.
New Audi factory driver Dennis Marschall will share the No. 15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix car with Christer Joens, while Markus Winkelhock is currently the only person named at Audi Sport Team Car Collection. Both outfits are also bringing independent entries.
Porsche is the best-represented GT3 marque, while most of its nine cars are being driven by pairings.
Kevin Estre and Lars Kern line up for Manthey Racing, while Frikadelli Racing Team has gone with Maxime Martin/Patrick Pilet and Earl Bamber/Matt Campbell.
The Falken Motorsports duos are Sven Mueller and Lance David Arnold, who is new to the team, in the No. 3 and Klaus Bachler and Martin Ragginger in the No. 4.
KCMG has gone with a pre-announced four-man crew for its reduced single-car Nürburgring program.
A total of five Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evos are on the NLS round one grid. Two cars from Haupt Racing Team and one from GetSpeed Performance will receive extended factory support, while an additional GetSpeed car will have this designation for the N24.
10Q Racing Team, which is set to run an AMG in the N24, is not racing this weekend.
Beyond the German manufacturers, Lamborghini will be represented by a Huracan GT3 Evo each for Konrad Motorsport and the factory-supported FFF Racing Team.
Octane 126, which qualified on the front row for last year’s N24, is campaigning the sole Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 in the race featuring the Swiss driving quartet Luca Ludwig, Bjorn Grossmann, Simon Trummer and Jonathan Hirschi.
Kubica to Get First NLS Mileage
There are several notable competitors in the other categories, including ex-Formula 1 driver Robert Kubica who is set to make his Nordschleife racing debut in the VT3 class.
Kubica, who is also undertaking a season of LMP2 this year with Team WRT, will share a Porsche Cayman with FIA World Touring Car Cup race winner Nestor Girolami.
Double IMSA GT Daytona champion Christina Nielsen will drive a Giti Tire Motorsport by WS Racing BMW F30 in the 17-car VT2 division, which also includes seven-time Indianapolis 500 starter Pippa Mann who is listed in a Sorg Rennsport BMW 330i.
World Touring Car Cup ace Jean-Karl Vernay is also on the VT2 entry in a Hyundai i30.
Other highlights within the large field include the 11 entries for the BMW M2 CS Racing Cup, 16 cars in the Porsche GT4 Cayman ranks and an eight-car field for the KTM X-Bow Cup featuring the Austrian constructor’s GT4 and GTX models.
The Automobilclub von Deutschland Opel Manta is also taking part.
Round one of the NLS will take place behind closed doors. Saturday’s race is due to start at 12 p.m. local time (7 a.m. EST).