Subaru World Rally Team driver, Chris Atkinson, will compete in the annual Nurburg 24 Hours touring car race at the legendary Nurburgring circuit on the June 17 and 18.

Atkinson will drive a 2006 Spec C Subaru Impreza WRX STI prepared by Autosportif Racing GB.

The team, managed by Martyn Spurrell, brings a wealth of motorsport experience with the Subaru Impreza to the project, and it is targetting a good result in the race against very stiff competition from the works and factory-supported BMW M3s.

It will be the first time that Atkinson has competed in an endurance event. His teammates for the event will be 26 year-old South African driver Alan van de Mewre (the 2003 British F3 champion),  Briton Phil Bennett, (35), a highly-experienced touring car driver with BTCC, Le Mans and Nurburgring experience and six-time Nurburg 24 Hours competitor Jonathan Price (42).

Atkinson is delighted that he has been given the opportunity to participate in the race.

“It will certainly be different but I’m really looking forward to it,” Atkinson said.

“It’s fantastic to be given the chance to partake in one of the world’s classic motorsport events.”

The Impreza will run in the SP6 class (for cars of 3001-3500cc and two-litre turbo-equipped cars) and will face its main competition from the BMW M3 entries.

The race will be held on the famous Nurburgring circuit, encompassing the Grand Prix circuit and the ‘Nordschleife’ (North course) for a total lap distance of 25.378km, the longest of any circuit presently in existence.

Every year, over 200 cars take part in this classic touring car event. This year marks the 34th running of the race.

In Europe, there are three main endurance events annually: the Le Mans 24 Hours in France, the 24 Hours at Spa-Francorhamps (Belgium), and the Nurburg 24 Hours.

The most significant feature of the course itself (particularly the North course) is the tight and twisty mountainous track through the forested sections of the Eifel Mountains. It is the longest winding road circuit in the world, and features no fewer than 186 corners per lap.

Characteristics of the Nurburgring include many blind corners, crests, up-down sections and horizon turns, placing heavy lateral Gs on the drivers.

Subaru has been using the Nurburgring to develop their cars for over ten years, and it has become the ‘home circuit’ for the company’s development of new models.

Last year, Japanese team Prova Racing made their debut at the circuit using an Impreza and featuring drivers Kazuo Shimizu, Toshihiro Yoshida, Kumi Sato and SWRT tarmac specialist Stephane Sarrazin. The squad finished 2nd in class (14th overall) against strong competition and despite it being their first attempt at the event.

This year’s Nurburg 24 Hours will commence with a ‘driving school’ for rookies, novices and foreign drivers on June 13 and 14 to allow them to get accustomed to the demands of the circuit.
 
On Thursday June 15 a test race will be held to acclimatise the less experienced competitors taking part.

Qualifying for the race takes place on Friday, June 16 with the race itself commencing on Saturday, June 17 at 15:00.   Over the 24 full hours, the front-running cars are expected to cover somewhere in the region of 3,500-kilometres.

Race Name: 34th International ADAC Zurich 24-hour race
Date:   June 17-18, 2006
Team:   Autosportif Racing GB
Car:   SUBARU Impreza spec C (type GDB)
Drivers:  Alan van de Merwe, Phil Bennett, Jonathan Price, Chris Atkinson 
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