In a fitting tribute to Sabine Schmitz, her team Frikadelli Racing took an emotional one-two victory in the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series 62. Eibach ADAC ACAS Cup with the #30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet claiming the win ahead of the sister car of Maxime Martin and Patrick Pilet. The clean sweep was the result of two different pitstop strategies.
Scroll to the bottom of the page for a post-race penalty update.
Polesitter Alexander Sims took the green flag with conviction and left the two Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3s and the #30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Earl Bamber fight over who would follow the Brit into the opening lap in second place – a three-way battle won by the Porsche. Nick Catsburg took third place in the #98 Rowe BMW at the cost of teammate Marco Wittmann who had to settle for fourth.
Three laps into the race Bamber make his move on Sims in the braking for the first turn. Having caught up the BMW in the previous lap, the New Zealander successfully drag-raced Sims out of the first turn.
Having lost the lead, Alexander came under fire from Nick Catsburg, Marco Wittmann and Patrick Pilet (#31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R). Coming up to heavy traffic, everything changed in the fight for second.
First, racing through traffic, Catsburg passed Sims in the fast uphill climb to Klostertal while Pilet grabbed fourth from Wittmann. Further down the track, accelerating onto Döttinger Höhe, the Schubert BMW got stuck behind two slower cars. The momentum lost opened the door for Patrick Pilet, Nico Menzel – having caught back up to the leading group in his Pro-Am class #25 Huber Motorsport Porsche 991.2 GT3R – and Marco Wittmann to slipstream past Sims.
Schubert Motorsport decided to call Sims in for an early pitstop after only four laps, throwing the #20 BMW M6 GT3 off-sync with the rest of the lead group.
Meanwhile, Pilet had worked his way up to second and caught up to the back of Bamber as he began looking for an opening to take the lead but saw Bamber disappear in the distance during the following lap. With Catsburg and Menzel now right behind him, Pilet dived into the pits at the end of the fifth lap, leaving his two pursuers scramble for second. Menzel got a taste of second place during his in-lap.
Hour two opened with a massive visit to the pits by the leading eight. Making use of a shorter pitstop time by coming in after as few as three laps, the #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Klaus Bachler emerged in the lead with Maxime Martin in the #31 Frikadelli Porsche and Jesse Krohn in the #20 Schubert BMW – two other ‘early stoppers’ – in second and third.
The #30 Frikadelli Porsche of Mathieu Jaminet, having taken over from Earl Bamber, was the first of the ‘regular stoppers’, running fourth with a 51-second gap ahead to the leader. From there the Porsche continued its battle with the #98 Rowe BMW while being joined by Lars Kern in the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R and Dries Vanthoor aboard the #15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 – the latter two also having made an earlier-than-normal pitstop.
A more spread-out field during the second and third hour saw both Frikadelli Racing Porsches as well as the #4 Falken Porsche take turns leading the race through their different pitstop strategies, while from low down in the top ten the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche had come to the fore and ended the third hour in fourth place with Michael Christensen at the wheel for the final two hours.
By pushing their final pitstop one lap further back than any of their direct contenders, the #30 Frikadelli Racing crew could send Mathieu Jaminet out on track for the final stint in the lead and race to the chequered flag unthreatened.
Maxime Martin kept the #30 Frikadelli Porsche in sight on the long Döttinger Höhe straight for the final stint but was never close enough to make Jaminet sweat. The #31 crew had lost a valuable amount of time during a stop-and-go penalty on lap 19 for overtaking under yellow that dropped Pilet behind the sister car of Bamber. A Code 60 Zone slowed down the race just enough for Jaminet to complete the race with a total of 28 laps and a gap of ten seconds to Martin.
The biggest winner of the unconventional pitstop strategy was the #4 Falken Porsche, climbing from eleventh on the grid to third at the finish for a complete Porsche podium. Klaus Bachler stole the final step on the podium when he forced the normally cool-headed Michael Christensen into a mistake at Hatzenbach. The small mistake made by the Dane was enough for the Austrian to dive into the gap and take third.
Christensen crossed the finish line in fourth, missing out on a podium but moving up five position from ninth at the start after a high-paced race by himself and co-driver Lars Kern aboard the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R.
Christopher Mies collected fifth place for the #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 shared with Kelvin van der Linde and Mattia Drudi, having started the race from a lowly 22nd position.
Note: the #29 Audi Sport Team Land has been penalised, click HERE to read the update.
Sixth and seventh went to Rowe Racing, with the #99 BMW M6 GT3 of Nick Yelloly, John Edwards and Nick Catsburg finishing ahead of the #98 machine of Connor Di Phillippi, Martin Tomczyk and Marco Wittmann.
Eighth went to #15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix (Fred Vervisch/Dries Vanthoor/Frank Stippler) and ninth to the #32 Audi Sport Team Car Collection (Christopher Haase/Dennis Marschall/Patric Niederhauser).
Luca Stolz only just made it into the top ten, overtaking Stef Dusseldorp in the #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 in the final laps after a fierce fight with the Dutchman. The BMW crew was unable to build upon its outstanding start of the day, finishing eleventh.
The NLS championship is back on 26 June with the 52. Adenauer ADAC Rundstrecken-Trophy. In the meantime, the Nürburgring will host the ADAC 24h Qualifying Race next week (8-9 May) and the ADAC Total 24h Race on 3-6 June.
Update 22:05 CEST: A number of penalties were handed out post-race, changing the finishing order somewhat. Fifth place finisher #29 Audi Sport Team Land received a 36-second post-race time penalty for leaving the pits before the minimum required pitstop time, dropping the Audi down to seventh behind the two Rowe Racing BMWs. The same penalty — but of 37 seconds — went to the #5 Phoenix Racing Audi. Instead of twelfth, the #5 Audi is now classified fifteenth. The SP9/GT3 Pro-Am entry of Huber Motorsport, the #25 Porsche, was penalised with 180 seconds due to Alex Müller not having driven a lap during the race. This drops Huber Motorsport from 25th down to 28th and from second to third in the Pro-Am classifications.
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