On its 25th anniversary, Manthey Racing won the fog-split ADAC Total 24h Race at the Nürburgring. Having spent much of the race at the pointy end of the field, drivers Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen and Matteo Cairoli took the team’s seventh Nürburgring 24 Hours victory.
The Nürburgring-based team defeated rain, fog, all-out chaos and the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3.
Lars Kern was pulled from the race before he could turn a lap and was not classified as winner.
The red flag-interrupted race resumed at noon with a three-and-a-half-hour showdown. The grid was formed by lap 34 standings, putting the #1 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 on pole position for the single-file restart.
With Philipp Eng leading ahead of Maro Engel’s #4 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3, the field set course through the still foggy Eifel.
Back aboard the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R, Kévin Estre immediately began pushing forward from sixth on the grid to fourth after the first lap on Sunday – the 35th in total. Time and pace lost on Saturday seemed no longer an issue for ‘Grello’ as Estre climbed the charts.
Stef Dusseldorp followed in third place in the #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, sticking close to the two leaders and flexing his muscles on the second lap after the restart with the fastest lap of the race with 8:12.804.
Temperatures rose at the three hours to go mark, but it wasn’t the outside air temperature that began heating up.
First, Michele Beretta, running in seventh place just ahead of Christopher Mies (#29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3) and Raffaele Marciello (#7 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo), found himself sliding off the track at Breidscheid. Coming back onto the track the Italian ran Mies up on kerbs at Ex-Mühle, forcing the German to break off his attack.
Watching it all unfold in front of him, Marciello quickly passed Mies and put the pressure on Beretta as they raced up the valley to Hohe Acht.
Beretta kept his compatriot behind until the group of GT3s ran into traffic at the Karassell. Launching out of the banked hairpin, the Audi got hit from behind by the Mercedes-AMG damaging the rear bodywork of the Beretta’s R8. As he began skating at the top of Hohe Acht, Marciello saw a gap and went for the inside of the corner, expecting Beretta to yield. He did not. Marciello again hit Beretta, this time sending the Audi off into the guardrail.
The long ride back to the pits to repair the damage removed Phoenix Racing from contention.
Up into twelfth place, Thomas Preining lost a heap of time when he spun on the slippery concrete of the Kleine Karussell and hit the barriers, costing the #33 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R some time, but damage was averted.
The biggest upset, however, came moments later when second-placed Maro Engel got into a tangle with the Opel Manta at the Hohenrain chicane. In full control of the race and with potentially the win within reach, the Mercedes-AMG driver misjudged the slower traffic and had a coming together with the old Opel. The #4 Haupt Racing Team’s race ended with a heavy crash into the tyre barrier, but luckily Engel escaped injury.
Drama continued after the next round of pitstops when Josh Burdon, leading the #29 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Kelvin van der Linde and #77 BMW Junior Team of Neil Verhagen who were both stalking the Australian for fourth place, lost control of his #18 KCMG Porsche 991.2 GT3R over the bumps at the Hatzenbach esses and crashed.
At the same time, Rowe Racing caused another big upset when Philipp Eng brought the #1 BMW M6 GT3 into the pits suffering from an electrical problem. The defending champions had been leading since restart but were now forced to park the BMW.
The onset of local rain showers with under two hours to go caused more turmoil. The slippery tarmac cost Kelvin van der Linde (#29 Audi Sport Team Land) and Julien Andlauer (#3 Rutronik Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R) their shot at the podium as they damaged their cars in a collision at Hohe Acht. They had been squabbling over fourth place when the two made contact.
Hubert Haupt, piloting the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, also saw his race end near Hohe Acht, sliding into the tyres at Klostertal when he ran into a sudden rain shower at the north-east end of the Nordschleife. Adding insult to injury, another car crashed into the already stricken GT, causing some more damage.
It was around this time when Michael Christensen jumped into the Manthey Porsche. As the pitstops sorted out the running order, he moved into the lead.
Rowe Racing decided to shake up its strategy to try and get ahead of Manthey by pulling the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 in two laps earlier. The change in strategy handed Sheldon van der Linde – with a shorter minimum pitstop time the new leader of the race – the task to push for a large enough gap to beat Manthey Racing in the final pitstop window.
31 minutes to the end Estre steered the Manthey Porsche into the pits for the team’s final stop. As Van der Linde had already made his stop two laps earlier and despite a good effort failed to open a 40-second gap to stay in the game, the shorter minimum pitstop time allowed Grello to return to the race a safe 15 seconds in front of Van der Linde.
Keeping the BMW at bay, Estre finally eased off on the final lap, bringing the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R over the finish after 59 laps and celebrating the team’s 25th anniversary with its seventh Nürburgring 24 Hours victory.
Sheldon van der Linde crossed the finish line 9 seconds later, scoring a second place for the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 with co-drivers Connor De Phillippi, Martin Tomczyk and Marco Wittmann.
Third place saw a no-holds-barred battle that ran from the restart to the finish between the #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Klaus Bachler, Martin Ragginger, Alessio Picariello and Sven Müller, and the #7 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Maximilian Götz, Daniel Juncadella and Raffaele Marciello.
Racing on the edge, going over it, slicing and dicing through traffic, going side-by-side, pushing and shoving – neither team was just going to give up.
The fierce fighting went into the final hour with Sven Müller and Raffaele Marciello in their respective machines. What Juncadella couldn’t, Marciello did: taking the slipstream out of Flugplatz, the Italian outbraked the German into Aremberg to claim third place for Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed with 9 minutes to go.
Fifth place behind Falken Motorsports went to the #2 Audi Sport Team Car Collection (Nico Müller/Christopher Haase/Markus Winkelhock) that with Nico Müller at the wheel powered from twelfth to fifth in the final laps.
The #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 (Jesse Krohn/Jens Klingmann/Alexander Sims/Stef Dusseldorp) finished in sixth place, ahead of the #8 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Fabian Schiller/Jules Gounon/Matthieu Vaxivière) in seventh. The #8 GetSpeed AMG finished at the back of the closely running group from positions three through seven.
Huber Motorsport made the most of the reduction of minimum driving time due to the red flag and with both Am drivers Philipp Neuffer and Stefan Aust having already done their stints on Saturday, the #23 Porsche 991.2 GT3R team could on Sunday solely rely on Pro drivers Nico Menzel and Marco Seefried to bring home eight place and the win in the Pro-Am class.
The #33 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Klaus Bachler, Dirk Werner, Thomas Preining and Lance David Arnold was the last to finish on the lead lap, securing ninth. Thomas Jäger, Kenneth Heyer, Dominik Baumann and Yelmer Buurman closed out the top ten in the #40 10Q Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo.
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