Racing uncertainty: inside the world of 24-hour endurance events

A Formula 1 race lasts about 90 minutes. So what's it like racing for a whole day, on two wheels and four? A new documentary aims to show us

Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic Type R) at the 2020 Nurburgring 24 Hours motor race
Tiago Monteiro (Honda Civic Type R) during the 2020 Nurburgring 24 Hours race

Former F1 driver Tiago Monteiro has raced at the famed Le Mans 24 Hours but nothing compares with dicing for a full day around the old Nürburgring Nordschleife – a daunting, 15.8-mile circuit in the Eifel Mountains of Germany dubbed by Jackie Stewart as the Green Hell.

“It is so far from the pits we carry cash for a cab, a rain jacket and an extra mobile phone if we need to summon help,” says the Portuguese, whose highlight in motor racing’s premier series was a podium for Jordan at the United States Grand Prix back in 2005.

“It is probably the most challenging, the most difficult race on earth,” says the Honda driver. “Twenty-four hours are always tough, no matter where you do it. But when you add changing weather, a crazy long twenty-five kilometres race track, with bumps, twenty-something blind corners… it is really the most demanding. 

Pitstops aren't part and parcel of motorcycle racing - unless you need to keep running for 24 hours. Josh Hook during the 2020 24 Heures Motos at Le Mans

“Maybe not as famous [as the Le Mans 24 Hours] in terms of public knowledge, but in the motorsports world this is the race that you have to finish and try to win.”

If Monteiro and the four-wheeled gladiators who take on each other around the Green Hell seem tough,  meet Australian Josh Hook. He is a 24-hour racer, too. Except he races on two wheels.

Hook in action on his Honda Fireblade

In this year of Covid, the only major 24-hour bike race was at Le Mans in August (run on the 2.6-mile Bugatti Circuit rather than the 8.5-mile full La Sarthe circuit used by the cars). Hook, 27, entered despite having two broken bones in his right foot – sustained in a crash less than a day before the race began.   

To pitch Hook and Monteiro against each other in reality is impossible. They both race near-road spec machines  (Honda Civic Type R and Honda Fireblade respectively) but there the similarity ends. 

A pitstop for Tiago Monteiro at the Nurburgring race

But in the virtual world of film comparisons are possible. I have just finished a documentary called 2+4=24. It follows Hook and Monteiro to the edges of hell and back in the two toughest 24 Hour races of 2020.      

Taxi for M. Monteiro? Watch and find out…

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