Rowe Racing won the 2020 ADAC Total 24h Rennen at the Nürburgring in a thrilling race that saw a prolonged red flag during the night. The BMW teams turned the tables on the long-dominating Mercedes-AMG and Audi squads to sweep three of the first four places with the #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Nick Catsburg, Alexander Sims and Nick Yelloly going home with the brand’s 20th victory in the Eifel classic.
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Teams and drivers gathered at the Nürburgring on Sunday morning for an 8:00 CET restart, having waited out the rain that brought an end to the increasingly dangerous night racing. The red flag was shown before midnight shortly after the #9 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed entry crashed from the lead. With a night of free repairs available, a number of teams were back on the grid after sunrise, including the bright yellow GetSpeed AMG just two laps down in 19th place.
Nordschleife veteran Frank Stippler led the field to the green in the #1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 but soon found himself struggling with his Michelin wet-weather tyres and overtaken by the frontrunners.
Christopher Haase took the lead in the #3 Audi Sport Team Car Collection with a typical Döttinger Höhe slipstream overtake of Audi colleague René Rast in the #29 Audi Sport Team Land.
While out front the Audis were dicing for positions, the slowly drying track seemed to suit the Rowe Racing and BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3s better than yesterday’s monsoon conditions as the three cars managed to tag along with the leaders.
After a number of cars – including the #29 Land Audi and #42 BMW Team Schnitzer – dropped out of contention as a result of penalties, the #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 and the Audi R8 LMS GT3s of Audi Sport Team Car Collection and Audi Sport Team Phoenix – the latter despite a stop-and-go-penalty served around noon – appeared the contestants for victory in the final hours.
With the end approaching, the Eifel decided to throw the teams one final challenge. After a largely damp and cold Sunday, the track was hit with a short but heavy rain shower quickly worsening the track conditions.
Going into the rain just ten seconds behind Haase in the #3 Audi Sport Team Car Collection, the Rowe Racing crew reacted immediately and called Nick Catsburg in for cut slicks while the Audi continued for one more lap around the Nordschleife, losing heaps of time and allowing Catsburg to snatch the lead next time by.
Last year’s champion Phoenix Racing was ruled out of a final attack when, with under one hour to go, Dries Vanthoor slipped on oil coming out of Klostertal and in an attempt to stay in control of the car went straight onto the grass. Unfortunately for the Belgian he hit the barrier in the process, resulting in a puncture and being forced to crawl back to the pits.
After losing the lead during the rainstorm, Haase – with rain tyres under his Audi – began taking chunks out of the BMW’s lead but couldn’t get close enough. On the final round of pitstops Rowe Racing managed to stay ahead of Car Collection, retaking the lead just as Haase left his pitbox.
Holding the gap steady at around 15 seconds to the finish, Catsburg held on to celebrate BMW’s 20th ‘N24’ victory and maiden wins for him, Rowe Racing, Nick Yelloly and Alexander Sims.
BMW Team Schnitzer’s Augusto Farfus, Jens Klingmann, Martin Tomczyk and Sheldon van der Linde joined Rowe Racing and Car Collection on the podium in third place, having grabbed third from the #1 of Audi Sport Team Phoenix in the final hour.
With Rowe Racing ending up in fourth place with its #98 BMW M6 GT3, the Bayern brand’s dominance at the finish was underlined, having come from 12th place in the morning.
After coming in to change his flat tyre, Dries Vanthoor could salvage no more than fifth place for the #1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix.
The #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 laid claim to sixth place as a result of the #31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R being penalised and demoted one place to seventh.
The last car on the lead lap was the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArenA in eighth place, ahead of its #2 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 sister car. Falken Motorsports’ #44 Porsche 991.2 GT3R rounded out the top ten.
1. #99 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 (Nick Catsburg/Alexander Sims/Nick Yelloly)
2. #3 Audi Sport Team Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Christopher Haase/Markus Winkelhock/Mirko Bortolotti)
3. #43 BMW Team Schnitzer BMW M6 GT3 (Augusto Farfus/Jens Klingmann/Martin Tomczyk/Sheldon van der Linde)
4. #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 (Marco Wittmann/Tom Blomqvist/Philipp Eng)
5. #1 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Dries Vanthoor/Frank Stippler/Nico Müller/Fred Vervisch)
6. #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Kelvin van der Linde/Mattia Drudi/Christopher Mies/René Rast)
7. #31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R (Lars Kern/Mathieu Jaminet/Lance David Arnold/Maxime Martin)
8. #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT AutoArenA Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Patrick Assenheimer/Dominik Baumann/Dirk Müller/Maro Engel)
9. #2 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Hubert Haupt/Yelmer Buurman/Nico Bastian/Philip Ellis)
10. #44 Porsche 991.2 GT3R (Klaus Bachler/Sven Müller/Peter Dumbreck/Martin Ragginger)
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