Friday at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring was a day for Porsche, no one else. The German marque appeared to travel in the shadows in Thursday’s running, but they came out swinging in the final qualifying session before blitzing the field in the Top 30-Qualifying Shootout.
Above all, Friday at the N24 was a day for Manthey Racing and Porsche-ace Laurens Vanthoor, with the Belgium driver not only topping Qualifying 2, but also storming to pole in a 911 GT3-R sweep.
A late flyer saw Vanthoor, who shares the number 911 car with Kevin Estre, Romain Dumas and Earl Bamber, shoot to the top of the Q2 times with an 8min 14sec .503 lap, beating the previous benchmark held by the number 98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3.
Tristan Vautier ended up third quickest in the number 16 Landgraf Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 on an 8min 18sec .688, meaning that all three cars went quicker than the Q1 pace-setting number 1 Audi Sport Team Land entry, which was bumped to fourth.
Slow Zones proved crucial throughout the session after several incidents, including a wild crash for the number 89 MSC Sinzig Audi TT at Flugplatz caused lengthy clean ups and barrier repairs.
When the Top 30 Shootout came around later in the evening, once again, there was no stopping Vanthoor who reeled off an 8mins 09sec .105 on his second of two flying laps. Sven Mueller in the number 44 Falken Motorsports Porsche held the top spot for a while, until Vanthoor bettered his time, with Mueller settling for second ahead of Norbert Siedler in the number 31 Frikadelli Racing Team Porsche, competing a dominant top three lockout for the German manufacturer.
Maro Engel was the next best in the number 4 Black Flacon Mercedes-AMG GT3, while Aston Martin Racing’s Nicki Thiim took fifth on a 8:10.020 in the number 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3. The second of the Manthey Racing entries claimed sixth in the hands of Fred Makowiecki.
Christopher Mies was the best of the Audis, with the defending race winner qualifying a distant 15th, more than three seconds off the pace in the number 1 Audi Sport Team Land R8 LMS GT3.
The top four times all dipped underneath the previous qualifying record since the introduction of the shootout-style qualifying format.
Teams and drivers will have one final chance to dial their cars in during a 60 minute morning warm-up session, before they settle in for 24 Hours around Green Hell, with the race start scheduled for 15:30 CET.