The Minority Racer joins TEAM WERK1 to race the Nurburgring of Offroad – GORM 24hr Race, the toughest endurance rallye race in Germany.
The story of a true minority underdog race who ends up in Germany with a BAD ASS team they call WERK1. His mission: To help the team finish the toughest endurance rally race in Germany with no pre-runnin and lots Ouzo and Bongo!
“This endurance rallye race was intense, like an off road version of the infamous Nurburgring 24 alias the Green Hell. The GORM has some superb fast sections that reminded me of WRC Mexico, while the train track bumps and whoops brought back memories of King of the Hammers. The TEAM WERK1 Petrol Suzuki Jimny survived the 24 hours of the Brown Hell very well, Bongo! ” stated Ponce.
Ponce and Hendryk racing for TEAM WERK1 in the Blue Petrol Suzuki Jimny 4x4.
Ponce, the Minority Racer, has added another world class race to his multi motorsports racing adventures thanks to his new partner TEAM WERK1. Ponce proved he could rock crawl back at the UROC Super Crawl 2006, rock race in the MXRRA series in Mexico and MOROC in Texas, rally the WRC Mexico 2008 and 2010 with no previous rally experience with co driver Bill Bridge, navigate for a Venezuelan Rally Team in the Amazons, race with Nordic Offroad Champ Tore Hansen at the Nordic and Euro Trials in Norway, desert rock race and finish the King of the Hammers in 2011 with co driver Dave Gutwillig and partner Javier Ibarra, and now he had to learn how to survive and race the GORM 24hr Race, the toughest endurance rallye race in Germany with Michael R. Podlogar, Dennis Meyer and Jutta Kleinschmidt.
The GORM (German Off Road Masters) 24hr Race has multiple vehicle classes and is held each year in Schwerin, GERMANY. Some of the vehicles also raced in the Paris Dakar and other FIA World Cup Cross Country Rallies.
In total there are up to 4 drivers allowed for each vehicle and they take turns driving to complete the 24 hrs of racing, similar to the Nurburgring 24hr race, the big difference is that the GORM terrain changes on every lap! Something unique about this race was that you were allowed to take a co-driver, for example from your pit crew to help you in case you broke down or got stuck during the race. So in reality you could have up to 8 on one team. The team with the most laps within 24 hrs would be the winner. Every vehicle had a transponder device to keep track of the laps and times.
Looks easy, try doing it for 24 hrs. This is a picture from just one section of the many in the GORM race.
Team WERK1 raced the green diesel and blue petrol Suzuki Jimny against other higher horsepower rigs.
So how did this Mexican underdog end up in Germany? With the help of Jorg Sand, Paris Dakar racer and organizer of the GORM, Ponce was introduced and partnered up with Michael Podlogar, a multi motorsports racer, who owns Team WERK1 (which means Factor One Racing in German) along with Dennis Meyer. The Paris Dakar winner and legend woman racer, Jutta Kleinschmidt, also joined the team to race. Michael and Dennis had purchased a new Petrol Suzuki with a modified suspension built by Matthias Kruger of DAKTEC and were eager to race it. Team WERK1 was now running 2 vehicles in the GORM race and needed more drivers, so Jutta and Ponce were in to race now with the Blue Petrol Suzuki #113 in class T1 (modified class) along with Michael and Dennis. Michael won the GORM in 2009.
Ponce and Hendryk taking a sharp turn and avoiding the rocks that were ready to cause carnage.
The other vehicle was their old school Turbo Charged Diesel Suzuki wrapped in Green, this vehicle won the GORM in 2009. The Green Suzuki #124 ran in class T2 (stock class) and was raced by Matthias Kruger, Nico Fischer (Overall 2009 Winner of the GORM in a Polaris/German Champion inT3 Class in 2010), and rookie drivers Theresa Juranek, Christian Andersen, and the Samsung VIP winner Stephanie Kruschinski who tagged along as a co driver. Theresa was super excited about this race since she tests automobiles and writes articles about her experience, so you can just imagine what she was thinking about her first off road race. Christian works for Suzuki and also was pumped about the racing.
Theresa Juranek excited about her first offroad racing experience with TEAM WERK1.
TEAM WERK1 racing in class T2 (stock class) with a Turbo Diesel Jimny 4x4, zero visibility on the start.
Podlogar, Meyer, Kleinschmidt and Ponce raced a great constant race, finishing 5th in class T1 and 16th overall out of 45 teams. The Suzuki performed very well and only had some minor problems. The pit crew was excellent and always checked everything to keep us going strong. The pit crew consisted of Richter Ralf, Arved Kampe, Markus Klesse, Alex Worin, Stephan Meier, Hendryk Sussig, Nico Fischer, and Bjorn Becker .
Ponce and Alex Worin starting off the race in the dusty Brown Hell, the Nurburgring of Off Road.
Ponce started off the race on Friday August 17 at 7pm and raced 3 laps with co driver Alex Worin in the Blue Suzuki #113 in class T1 (Modified Class), then Jutta, Podlogar and Dennis took over for the night driving. Ponce and co driver Hendryk Sussig got back in at 5am for another 5 laps and ended their turn driving with 6 laps from 11:30am-2:30pm on Saturday August 18th. Ponce drove a total of 14 laps of the total 40 laps completed by the team. Michael and Jutta raced the fastest laps of the team. Dennis and Richter Ralf raced the final laps to the finish line! The Blue Zuki was still in one piece and in great condition to run another event. Each lap was 17km so in total the team raced 40 laps 680 kms/ 423 mi.
“I’m stoked that I was able to experience this venture with TEAM WERK1, they are first class in everything they do. It has been a while since I competed in a Suzuki since my rock crawling days, but this rig was built perfect and handled like a rally car plus I got another chance to learn new racing skills to adapt in other motorsports. We shared many things in common such as having the barbecue fiesta at the pit and great times before and after the race. I did freak out when I woke up and saw 2 massage tables at our pit and full catering, I was now experiencing the real rock star treatment. Meeting and talking to the legend Jutta Kleinschmidt was the highlight of the race. It was crazy, I get back into the pits and there she is waiting to take over the wheel. I now understand why Michael and Dennis call the team FACTORY 1 because they are like one big racing family building good times at every event they race! Bongo! I thank you again for everything! EIN OUZO, Amigos! “ stated Ponce.
TEAM WERK1 taking a picture with the Paris Dakar legend, Jutta Kleinschmidt. WOW! She can drive!
Michael Podlogar prepping the codriver. Jutta Kleinschmidt smiling about the new Suzuki helmets.
Michael Podlogar and Jutta Kleinschmidt racing at night at the toughest endurance rally in Germany.
Ponce, the Minority Racer, finishing his first laps at the GORM 24hr race.
Dennis Meyer and Richter Ralf coming in from the final lap to the finish line. Dennis was very happy!
The green Suzuki #124 racing in T2 class had some bad luck when a razor wrecked into it and caused the severe axle damage. Ponce and Hendryk found Nico Fischer around 7am with a broken axle and no brakes in a real sandy section and it was impossible to pull him out. So Hendryk stayed behind to help Nico, they both managed to get it back to the pits and Nico, Richter, and Markus welded the axle and fixed the brakes to continue the race and finish in 12th in their class and 34 overall out of 45 teams.
Matthias Kruger giving Stephanie Kruschinski, the SAMSUNG VIP winner, the off road ride of her life!
Rookie drivers Theresa Juranek and Christian Andersen racing for the first time in T2 Class (stock class).
Nico Fischer celebrating and happy that he was able to fix the Suzuki to finish the race.
Team WERK1 Pit Crew working on both rigs.
Both Suzuki Jimnys managed to pass up and finish ahead of the Jeeps and many vehicles with more hp.
TEAM WERK1 celebrating their successful finish of 5th in Class T1 and 12th in Class T2. Bongo! Ein OUZO!
Part1 - GORM 24hr Race
Part 2 - Day 2 of the GORM 24hr race
Ponce and Michael Podlogar of TEAM WERK1 will be working together and planning to go race the King of the Hammers, the Mint 400, and the Baja 1000 in 2013. Who knows maybe they will show up in the Suzuki Jimny 4x4. Ponce also plans on racing some rallies before his homologation ends on his FIA Peugeot 206. Follow more updates at www.MinorityRacer.com
Ponce would like to thank the following sponsors, partners and friends for making this a great success.
Michael Podlogar and Dennis Meyer of TEAM WERK1, The whole TEAM WERK1 Familia, FO TEC Schweriner Folientechnik, Jorg Sand of GORM (German Off Road Masters), J.S. Consulting, HaKaWe Truck & Offroad Service, DOTZ, EuroPart, SAMSUNG, Hella, SUZUKI, Raceline Wheels, Master Pull, FOA, KC HiLites, Lopez Foundation, Casanova Motorsports, IRC Tracking, Maxxis, FRS Energy, PRP Seats, Tom Woods Custom Driveshafts, My Lucas Oil, SCORPION MEZCAL, Robert Kranz of RallyeWerk, Sven Stolting and Jens of Brainstorm TV, Rally Buzz, Offroad Press, and Marathon Rally.