A beautiful autumn race at the Nürburgring was the stage of the soon-to-be-replaced Falken Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3R to give one last farewell with a victory for drivers Martin Ragginger and Klaus Bachler in the final VLN race of the season. After searching for that illustrious maiden Falken Porsche victory for years, the team ended the year with a second win and the Speed-Trophäe. 

GALLERY | INTERVIEW MARTIN RAGGINGER AND KLAUS BACHLER

Having raced only a handful of races this year, Christian Krognes returned to the Nordschleife to shine one last time in a specially-entered third Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 alongside David Pittard and Rudi Adams. The winner of this years’ Spa 24 Hours took the bull by the horns as he improved on his own lap record set two years ago to a sharp 7:52.578—unmatched by anyone in the fog-delayed practise.

One lap at the front, however, is all Krognes gets. Coming out of a short Code 60 Zone at the first turn, Christopher Mies drag races his Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 pas the Norwegian. The Land Audi’s lead is short-lived as well: the fourth lap changes everything when Mies suddenly can’t get his car back up to speed. The Audi team’s race is over.

It happens right at the moment when the turquoise Falken Motorsports Porsche 991 GT3R with Klaus Bachler at the wheel overtakes Krognes for second place and then zooms past the stricken Audi. Pushing stints to eight laps for the first three hours, the Sven Schnabl-led crew makes up for two longer pitstops by taking its final pitstop just 39 minutes to the end and benefits from the decreasing minimum pitstop time. Two high-paced middle stints combined with the shorter pitstop, the Porsche re-emerges at the head of the field for the final laps around the autumn-coloured Nordschleife.

A series of quick laps by HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 pilot Raffaele Marciello can’t stop Martin Ragginer from taking Falken Porsche’s second victory of 2018. The Austrian crosses the finish line in first position after 28 laps with 5 seconds to spare.

Black Falcon and HTP Motorsport could hardly be separated throughout the first three hours, the two Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams following each other bumper to bumper. It isn’t until the final hour when Marciello finally shakes off the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Yelmer Buurman in a final attempt to pull the race his way.

AMG superstar Marciello finishes a little over 5 seconds behind the winner. The Italian completed the 4-hour endurance after team-mates Maximilian Götz and Patrick Assenheimer kept the car in constant contention for the win, leading and following the Black Falcon AMG.

Black Falcon brought out its green Mercedes-AMG GT3 for the final race of the season and called up Blancpain GT champions—pending appeal—Yelmer Buurman and Luca Stolz to join the fast gentleman driver Hubert Haupt. Unlike the Blancpain GT finale in Barcelona, Buurman is no match this time for Marciello and takes the chequered flag in third place, 15 seconds behind the winner.

The 2018 VLN Langstreckenmeisterschaft was won by Pixum Team Adrenalin Motorsport drivers Christopher Rink, Danny Brink and Phillipp Leisen. Racing their BMW 325i e90 to six V4 class victories this season, the German trio scored enough points to secure both the overall championship and the Produktionswagen-Trophäe.