On the verge of the 2019 season Manuel Metzger broke his leg in a cycling accident, putting his 24 Hours of the Nürburgring plans in jeopardy. Against the initial prognosis, however, the Black Falcon and AMG works pilot was already back behind the wheel for the third VLN race of the season.
On double duty with Black Falcon’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Porsche 991 GT3 Cup MR, the German continued in his usual form.
“Of course, I was very happy to be back at the Nürburgring – or back in a race car – since my break,” says Metzger.
“The whole healing process went a lot quicker than expected so I planned my comeback for VLN3.
“On Friday I still wasn’t 100-percent sure if everything with my leg would be fine – if I could brake properly, how the G-forces in the corners would be. But I found out quite quickly that there’s no pain during braking and the cornering was also fine in the beginning. It’s just that with more laps the one muscle on the outside of my leg that’s still a bit sore started to give up a bit, but this wasn’t an issue, it was just a matter of getting used to it.”
After a handful of laps on Friday in the Porsche 991 GT3 Cup MR and a more substantial test with the Mercedes-AMG GT3, Metzger was ready for race day. Having never driven the Porsche in the rain, he would be in for a challenge.
Qualifying didn’t go as planned for the Black Falcon squad. Traffic and Code 60s during Metzger’s early laps withheld him from putting the Mercedes-AMG GT3’s full potential on display. As conditions on track deteriorated, co-drivers Maro Engel, Adam Christodoulou and Dirk Müller weren’t able to improve on Metzger’s time, earning the team 16th place on the grid.
Black Falcon fared better in the race. With four drivers on the number 14 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3, they were always going to be on the back foot when two-stop strategies became an option in the slow-paced 4-hour race. However, it wasn’t going to stop the 2016 Nürburgring 24 Hours champions from making the most of it.
“Maro did a good job at the start, he overtook a lot of cars and ended up P6 when I went in the car after six laps. I struggled a bit in the beginning with the wet tyres, not having enough tyre pressure. But slowly as the track dried out the tyres got better and better. At one point I was the quickest car in the field and I could regain the time lost in the beginning.
“I handed back the car in P3 overall.”
After a short 20-minute break, Metzger was up in the number 57 Black Falcon Porsche 991 GT3 Cup for a double stint to the end where he measured himself with full-blown GT3s.
“We were 5 or 6 minutes back in P3. I basically took it easy, took no risks. I was still quick but was minimizing the risks.
“When the track began to dry, I thought, OK we cannot gain a lot up front or lose to the back, let’s put on slicks and have some fun – and it was a lot of fun driving the car on slicks again! I had some nice fights with GT3 cars and set the fourth fastest lap of the race in the SP7 car, which is quite good. Of course, the conditions were unusual, but I was happy with that and we finished P3. With the Mercedes we also finished third because the Porsche got a penalty.”
Eager to mark his return from injury, Metzger exceeded everyone’s, maybe even his own, expectations.
“I’m really, really happy with my comeback and I’m looking forward now to my next race in the Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia in Buriram and the ‘Quali Race’ for the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
“I’m looking forward to driving some more races soon.”
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