Rain has certainly shaken things up this weekend at the Nürburgring and thrown the 2021 ADAC Total 24h Race into chaos. After a wet and wild first four hours, the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo (Luca Stolz/Adam Christodoulou/Manuel Metzger/Maro Engel) leads the way, a minute ahead of the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R (Kévin Estre/Lars Kern/Michael Christensen/Matteo Cairoli).
Tyre gambles started already before the lights went green. Rain had been in the vicinity all afternoon and was creeping in the Nordschleife’s direction. At the last minute, Audi Sport Team Land pulled Chris Mies’ #29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 into pit lane to install cut slicks tyres, expecting a rain-affected opening phase.
A frantic start under the threat of rain saw rain tyre-shod Luca Stolz launch to second place behind polesitter Nick Catsburg, followed into third by Jens Klingmann in #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3. As rain picked up on the opening lap, Stolz made his move around the outside of Catsburg at Aremberg, taking the lead for the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3. Catsburg couldn’t keep up with Stolz, losing 7 seconds to the leader on the first lap.
While the race went green, Augusto Farfus chose to come in right away to put wet-weather tyres on the #77 BMW Team Junior BMW M6 GT3, leading the #100 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Henry Walkenhorst and #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Maro Engel into the pits.
Further back, Kévin Estre was on a roll, brawling his way in true Estre style from eleventh to fourth at the end of the first lap and picking off Klingmann on lap 2 and Catsburg a lap later as well.
Continuing his rapid pace towards Stolz, Estre had reeled the Mercedes-AMG back in on the fourth lap and slipstreamed into the lead at Döttinger Höhe. Having regain his form, Catsburg had followed Estre to the front where he joined the completed the leading trio.
While the first laps already hurt a lot of teams’ race, most notably the #19 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo of Axcil Jefferies and #101 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of David Pittard who both went off at Adenauer Forst and damaged their cars significantly, a sudden downpour at Schwedenkreuz caused the most damage – and danger as Noah Nagelsdiek had spun and stalled the #350 Black Falcon Team Identica Porsche 911 GT3 Cup MR in the middle of the track – when countless cars, many still on slicks and cut slicks, aquaplaned off the track.
As the pit window approached and rain increased the leaders opted for an early pitstop, handing over the lead to the trio of Raffaele Marciello (#7 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3), Sven Müller (#44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R) and Moritz Kranz (9 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3).
Back in the lead a lap later, Estre, Stolz and Catsburg continued their fight – in the second hour joined by the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Martin Tomczyk – battling not just each other but also the flooded racetrack as cars all around them slid off the treacherous track. Estre and Stolz had some back and forth between each other, but Estre eventually stayed ahead while both Rowe Racing BMWs slowly lost ground to the Porsche and Mercedes-AMG as the race went on.
A less chaotic phase arrived after two hours of racing, although it did claim top contender Phoenix Racing’s works entry when Dries Vanthoor smashed into the tyre barriers at Metzgesfeld causing terminal damage to the #15 Audi R8 LMS GT3.
Next came Stolz’ overtake for the lead on lap 12. Although Estre didn’t just give up his position on track, he didn’t fight Stolz too hard either and let the young German have it.
Drama returned at the start of the fourth hour with a heavy crash of Stefan Branner in the #87 Porsche 718 Cayman GTS at the Hohenrain chicane and an accident at Klostertal involving, amongst others, the #30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Earl Bamber. So far, the #30 Frikadelli Racing Porsche has had everything going against it, having already spent half an hour in the pits after an early mechanical failure.
Variations in pitstop strategy changed the running order somewhat after three hours of racing, with the #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 of Jesse Krohn having snuck into third place momentarily ahead of the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Marco Wittmann, Nicki Thiim in the #11 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 and #1 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Nick Yelloly — all of whom move up a position with Schubert’s out-of-sync pitstop.
Meanwhile, Manuel Metzger has taken over the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo from Luca Stolz to lead the race, and Matteo Cairoli has followed Kévin Estre and Michael Christensen aboard the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R, as the Porsche is slowly falling behind the Mercedes-AMG.
Top 5 after 26 laps / 19:32 hours remaining
- #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT – Manuel Metzger
- #911 Manthey Racing Porsche – Michael Christensen
- #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW – Jesse Krohn
- #98 Rowe Racing BMW – Marco Wittmann
- #11 Phoenix Racing Audi – Nicki Thiim
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