After missing out on victory last time due to a time penalty, Haupt Racing Team made it stick this time as Maro Engel took the chequered flag in victory for the very first time in the team’s young history. A strong race saw Engel and teammates Luca Stolz, Manuel Metzger and Adam Christodoulou drive the #16 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the win in the second race of the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series season. Walkenhorst Motorsport and GetSpeed Performance returned to the podium after a last-stint battle between David Pittard and Fabian Schiller.
The BMW front row took off with Martin Tomczyk leading the field to the green. Coming out of the first turn, however, the #42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 lost its position to Luca Stolz in the #16 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 who was quicker to accelerate out of the corner.
Mikkel Jensen had an even worse start aboard the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 as he missed the lights going green and dropped back down to sixth in the first kilometres of the race.
#7 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 pilot Marco Mapelli followed Tomczyk in third place and moving up to second after the first lap.
While Mapelli broke free of the large group of cars behind him, the fight over third place flared up as Alexander Sims in the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 had to fend off six other cars all running within seconds of each other.
Three minutes before the end of the first hour Stolz led Mapelli into the pits for their first pitstops separated by just three seconds. There Stolz handed over the #16 Mercedes-AMG to Manuel Metzger while Michele Di Martino took over the #7 Lamborghini from Mapelli.
By coming in for their pitstops laps earlier, the #34 Walkenhorst BMW of Jensen and #42 Schnitzer BMW now driven by Sheldon van der Linde jumped the leaders by a handful of seconds and took over the top two positions with Metzger being left in third place and Di Martino losing even more positions and ending up in 15th.
Falken Motorsports’ day went from bad to worse halfway into the race when Thomas Preining entered the pits with his car spitting flames. While overtaking a slower car, the Austrian driver had to take avoiding action and scraped open the underside of the car over the high kerbs at the bridge leading onto Döttinger Höhe.
The pitstops at the midway point were all taken at the same time by the frontrunners, giving the #16 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 – with Adam Christodoulou getting behind the wheel for the third hour – the edge. The #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Fabian Schiller profited from a slightly shorter second pitstop, closing the gap to the Walkenhorst (in the third stint driven by Christian Krognes) and Schnitzer (with pole winner Augusto Farfus piloting) BMWs that were running in tandem and taking second on track.
With Christodoulou leading the race throughout the third hour by a massive gap of 47 seconds over Schiller at the end of the stint and Krognes and Farfus staying put a few seconds away from Schiller, the action at the front died down for a little while.
At 55 minutes to the end, the first nine cars all visited the pits for their final time. As pitstop times for all coming in were set at the same minimal of 247 seconds and with a large lead, the Haupt Racing Team crew only had to worry about not cutting the pitstop too short again – a mistake that cost the new team the win two weeks ago.
Indeed, the same crew that took Black Falcon to numerous successes was flawless in its execution, sending Maro Engel out with half a minute to spare to the next car. With that, the winner seemed set.
Continuing the team’s form, #34 Walkenhorst BMW driver David Pittard set a high-paced out lap to grab second from Schiller ushering in a back-and-forth between the two drivers over who would take the silver. The battle was won by Pittard on the penultimate lap, and Schiller even had to sweat it for the Schnitzer and Rowe BMWs that were coming his way.
Just like two weeks ago, Engel was first to take the chequered flag but this time it was for real: after 28 laps, Haupt Racing Team scored its maiden victory.
Crossing the line in second place was the #34 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of David Pittard, Mikkel Jensen and Christian Krognes for another podium finish.
Schiller held on to third place, driving the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 shared with Maximilian Buhk and Maximilian Götz over the finish in third, a few seconds in front of Augusto Farfus in the fourth-placed #42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 and Alexander Sims with the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 in fifth. The top ten was completed by the #31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R in sixth, #8 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 in seventh, #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R in eighth, #26 Octane126 Ferrari 488 GT3 in ninth, and #18 KCMG Porsche 991.2 GT3R in tenth.
The second race of this unique VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series doubleheader weekend takes place on Sunday over the distance of another four hours starting at 12:00 CET.
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