With a fastest lap of 8:10.910 in the two-lap shoot-out around the Nürburgring, Maro Engel secured pole position for Saturday’s Nürburgring 24 Hours. The driver of the #2 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 stayed ahead of the #38 Mann Filter Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Maximilian Götz by only 0.137 seconds, making it a complete Mercedes-AMG GT3 front row.
The #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R Laurens Vanthoor fell just short of pole. Although the Belgian set a couple of lap times that put him momentarily on top of the charts, he eventually was bested by the two AMGs. The Manthey Porsche will start third, alongside the #4 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS GT3.
“It was flat-out, maximum attack and trying to do the job,” Maro Engel says. “It’s a bloody long and tough track that needs a lot of commitment. It’s always a fine line as well: The last thing you want to do is risk the car. Honestly, it’s impossible to do a lap like this without any risk, but you try to keep it under control because the most important is to have a good car for the 24-hour race.”
Engel compared his qualifying lap to the one that brought him pole in 2016 – the year in which he also won the race with current co-drivers Adam Christodoulou and Manuel Metzger – with Dirk Müller completing the drivers line-up in recent years.
“I think last year’s lap was a little bit faster, but we all know the cars have been slowed a little this year. It was maximum attack and an incredible lap. I don’t know if it was better, but probably as good as my lap in 2016.
“A big thank you to my team-mates who’ve really supported me big-time and to the Black Falcon team as well for giving me a great car and with all the support that AMG gives us it makes a real difference. You can feel the support program and all the information and it’s great to put it all to use and deliver on track like we did today. But it’s a long race ahead so that’s what the focus is on now. It’s great to be starting from pole, but it’s a long way to go.”
Looking back to last year where Engel lost a likely victory when the heavens opened up and the race was red-flagged allowing the Manthey Porsche to close in and eventually make the pass for the win in the final hour, the German goes into the race on Saturday with vigour.
“We are super motivated; we have been motivated since the Monday after last year’s race. Last year was tough – congratulations again to Porsche, they got the gap nullified through the red flag and in the sprint at the end they were just a little bit faster than us and they won it on the track so there’s nothing to say about it.
“It’s great to be back with the same team, drivers, car – it really makes a difference. I’m sure it’ll be a tough race and we haven’t seen everything from everybody yet. It was tough to make the right tyre choice, for the whole field probably. There are a lot of cars that I still have on my list that I think will be a big factor in the race and challenging for victory.”