For the first time in history teams and drivers dived straight into qualifying for the ADAC Total 24h Rennen. Three regular sessions with a final session for the top qualifyers are scheduled for this year’s Nürburgring classic, with the first two held on Thursday.
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Firing the firsts shots in Thursday afternoon’s 90-minute session was Konrad Motorsport. The #21 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo of racing veteran Franz Konrad and his pilots Michele Di Martino, Marco Mapelli, Axcil Jefferies and Franck Perera topped the charts with a stellar 8:11.428.
The Lambo was almost four seconds clear of the second-placed #5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of drivers Kim-Luis Schramm, Michele Beretta, Jules Gounon and Frank Stippler who managed a 8:15.343.
The #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the hands of Adam Christodoulou, Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Luca Stolz ended the opening session in third place, completing the 25 kilometre long track in 8:17.523.
Behind the AMG team the gaps closed up with KCMG’s #18 Porsche 991.2 GT3R (Earl Bamber/Timo Bernhard/Dennis Olsen/Jörg Bergmeister) ending the session in fourth posting a 8:18.223, while last year’s winners Audi Sport Team Phoenix (Nico Müller/Fred Vervisch/Dries Vanthoor/Frank Stippler) brought the second Audi R8 LMS GT3 into the top five with a time of 8:18.554.
Night qualifying gave the drivers an opportunity to adapt to the darkness and rain showers that are forecast for the race during the three-hour session. While no new teams broke into the top ten, the order was slightly reshuffled inside the top ten although Konrad Motorsport remained unmoveable in first place.
The biggest improver was the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT. Setting a timed lap of 8:19.079, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 with Nico Bastian behind the wheel jumped to sixth on the grid early in the evening.
The session ended abruptly, however, when Yelmer Buurman suffered a heavy accident in Schwedenkreuz with that same #2 HRT Mercedes-AMG, severely damaging the car and ending the session 33 minutes prematurely. The Dutchman himself came out unscathed.
Kelvin van der Linde helped the #29 Audi Sport Team Land R8 LMS GT3 improve one spot to seventh when he completed a lap of the Nordschleife in 8:19.411.
Another big mover was the #9 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed of Fabian Schiller, Maximilian Götz, Maximilian Buhk and Raffaele Marciello that jumped from 18th to 11th courtesy of Götz who timed a lap of 8:21.781.
The action continues Friday with the third and final regular qualifying session starting at 13:25 CET. Top Qualifying 1 begins at 17:50 CET immediately followed by the second Top Qualifying session ending at 20:10 CET. The second part of the Top Qualifying session decides the top 18 on the grid.
Photos by Frozenspeed and JP Wagner.
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