Harley Haughton Storms Forward In Great Nürburgring Debut
Harley Haughton produced a brilliant performance in his endurance racing debut this past Saturday (18th March), showcasing impressive pace and racecraft as he competed on the world-famous Nürburgring Nordschleife for the first time.
Haughton has teamed up with Breakell Racing this season to contest the opening three rounds of the Nurburgring Endurance Series (NLS), ahead of a maiden attempt at one of the biggest endurance races in the world, the 24 Hours of Nürburgring in May.
A steep learning curve faced Haughton as he prepared to race as part of a mammoth 118 car grid around arguably the most challenging circuit in the world, with the infamous Nordschleife consisting of more than 170 corners across 15 miles of tarmac.
The 18-year-old racer was paired with experienced team WS Racing for his debut, sharing a VW Scirocco with German drivers Axel Jahn and Ulrich Schmidt. The target for the event was to maximise his track time and start gaining the experience needed to upgrade his circuit permit ahead of the 24 hour race.
Unfortunately, some teething problems with the brand-new Scirocco hampered their progress across Friday testing and qualifying on Saturday morning, however a fantastic effort from the WS Racing team ensured the car was ready to go for the four-hour race that afternoon.
Time lost during Jahn’s opening stint meant that they were lying outside the top ten in the VT2-FWD class when Haughton took over around the hour mark. The Stockport based racer rose to the challenge though and immediately settled into a good rhythm around the Nordschleife.
With the NLS series featuring multi-class endurance racing like no other, with the huge grid ranging from state-of-the-art GT3 machinery to almost standard road cars, Haughton had to quickly get to grips with traffic management as his stint developed.
Haughton did a fantastic job of it though and was able to go on a superb charge up the class ranks, producing some thrilling overtaking moves as he climbed from P14 initially to as high as fourth around the varying pitstop strategies.
After a brilliant two hours of running, the 2022 Ginetta GT5 Challenge title contender handed over the Scirocco to Schmidt for the final run to the chequered flag, with his team-mate bringing the car home in seventh place.
Harley Haughton: “What a fantastic day! Racing on the Nordschleife for the first time is a big tick off my bucket list, and it was everything I wanted it to be. The circuit is absolutely incredible and the racing was just as intense and enjoyable as I’d imagined.
“It was great getting to know the WS Racing team and their mechanics did a great job in dealing with the teething problems with the car and ensuring it had a good setup for the race. I felt at home out there racing the car and relished the challenge of competing against such a large grid.
“I’m pleased to have been able to move up the order through my stint and contribute towards a good end result for the team. We’ve got some upgrades to come on the car for the next round, so hopefully we can push for an even better result.”
James Breakell, Team Principal: “Harley put in a fantastic performance! Considering it was his first ever endurance race, on the Nordschleife too, he took it all in his stride and produced a brilliant drive to climb ten places in class through his stint. He did everything needed of him to progress on his permit, and we’re excited to come back for NLS 2.”
The second round of the 2023 Nürburgring Endurance Series is coming up in two weeks’ time (1st April), with another four-hour race.