After two and a half hours of racing, the #16 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 seems to have the upper hand in the third VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series race of the season. With currently Manuel Metzger at the wheel, the Mercedes-AMG works team led the opening stint and floated back to the top during the second round of pitstops in a race where wildly various strategies are playing out. Currently on track it is Kelvin van der Linde in the #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 leading. The Audi team, however, is almost half an hour out of sync in pitstops.
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A good clean start by Maro Engel saw the #16 Haupt Racing Mercedes-AMG retain the lead followed by Jonathan Hirschi in the #26 Octane126 Ferrari 488 GT3 who managed to keep up with Engel throughout the opening laps.
Speeding through the Green Hell behind the two leaders was a large group of seven cars led by Michele Beretta in the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 and later Maximilian Götz in the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Having come in after only half an hour of racing, the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 with Frank Stippler driving and the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArena Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Patrick Assenheimer were able to jump a heap of cars and take over the lead as the second hour began. The shakeup caused by wildly different pitstop strategies gave Sheldon van der Linde, having taken over the #42 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 from Martin Tomczyk a couple of laps earlier, third place and shortly before his second pitstop the lead. Götz, Yelmer Buurman (#17 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3) and Christopher Mies (#29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3) followed in fourth, fifth and sixth, before Luca Stolz reappeared in the formerly leading #16 Haupt Racing Mercedes-AMG3.
At exactly the halfway point, Haupt Racing returned to the top of the charts as the second pitstop window played out. With 15 laps in the books, Stolz came in to hand over the car to Manuel Metzger who rejoined the race in 9th position with Kelvin van der Linde in the #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 now leading.
Continue reading our report of the second half and finish of the race.
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