Cyndie Allemann has fearlessly raced at 200 mp/h at Indianapolis, tackled the most prestigious race in the world namely the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and fought her way in the hectic Japanese Super GT field.
But last weekend, her racing career took another dimension when she finally met the Green Hell itself for a full endurance race. Indeed, she made her debut at the epic 24 Hours of the Nürburgring on the Nordschleife, on the Autohaus Sing Mercedes-Benz SLK with co-drivers Sven Hannawald, Thorsten Drewes and Bertin Sing.
“For me, the three most legendary tracks in the world are Le Mans, Indianapolis and the Nürburgring Nordschleife and I have now raced on the three of them – I was told I’m the first female race car driver to achieve this. But they’re all so different. For one thing, the Nürburgring Nordschleife requires a lot of patience before even thinking about performance. But after getting used to the car and of course, the constantly changing weather conditions, I started to feel more and more comfortable. I got a huge kick of discovering every part of the track in many different types of conditions: dry, wet, pouring rain, fog and night time.”
Her experience at different 24-hour races also helped, even though the daunting Nordschleife was a totally different challenge.
“A 24-hour race demands a huge preparation work and even though I’ve raced at Le Mans and at the 24 Hours of Dubai before, this one was even more special given the difficulty of the track and the constant change in grip conditions. One thing is sure is that I was really looking forward to this new challenge. Also, I really want to race more GT and endurance races this season (whether 24-hour races or different GT3 series) so I was really going into this race head first with all my energy.”
The weather conditions for the race became so appalling that it had to be stopped for more than nine hours. Regardless, Cyndie and her team made an amazing progression through the field and she had an exciting stint on Sunday night. In addition, heavy rain started on her last lap out, while she was still on slick tires.
“The race started really well for us. Our class (the ‘V6’) is about mid-field, so we started 125th. We fought our way back up to 4th in class and 71st position overall, gaining more than 50 places in the process! Managing traffic with slower and faster cars was a challenge in itself, which reminded me of Le Mans. My stint on Sunday night was totally crazy: I don’t even know how many times I passed cars but also got passed by the faster GT3 cars. I had a major blast going door to door with so many cars, it reminded me of a video game. And to top the excitement, it started raining on my last lap and I was still on slick tires! By the time I got to Flugplatz, the track was already wet which meant I had to drive 20 km with no grip. Of course, I slowed down quite a bit, but still, driving at 160 km/h on the Döttinger Höhe in the rain with slick tires was nothing short of crazy. The fog rolled in two hours later and the race was stopped, because it was just impossible to see anything more than five meters away. I was so pumped-up with adrenalin after my stint that I had a hard time finding sleep.”
After the race restart on Monday morning, the team kept its steady pace. But while Cyndie was waiting in the pits for the car to come back for her stint at the wheel, it had an accident that forced the team to retire.
“Of course, the accident was unfortunate, but I’m really proud of our team and our progression. My teammates Sven, Thorsten and Berthi were super and the ambience between all of us was awesome. I want to thank them and the Autohaus Sing for their professional work. Team work always pay off and our progress during the whole event was massive. One thing is sure, is that I want to do this race again, and again. I really fell in love with it.”
Throughout this event, Cyndie was not only busy with her racing, but also with her reality TV show ‘Ziel: Grüne Hölle’ (‘Objective: Green Hell’), shown on German network SPORT1. Not many people can handle the double duty of performing on track, but also in front of the cameras. Cyndie is one of the few and this year’s 24 Hours of the Nürburgring marked the end of her TV project, which started exactly a year ago at the same race.
“The TV show ‘Ziel: Grüne Hölle’ has been a great experience and showed in a very realistic way the work of a race car driving instructor as well as the behind the scene action at Mercedes AMG, Dunlop and Rowe Racing. The challenge for our two candidates (Sven Hannawald and Thorsten Drewes) was 100% real. It required a lot of self-confidence and stress-management on their part to not only learn how to race at the Nürburgring, but also to do it in front of TV cameras recording every move they made. Our emotion was genuine when the race ended for us. After all, we had been in this together for a full year, sharing our racing life and dreams. I for one was really proud of the progress accomplished by Thorsten and Sven. I would be thrilled to go back for more and start another project similar to ‘Ziel: Grüne Hölle’, or why not, a second edition of the same show.”