The 2022 ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring will be remembered for its early chaos that wiped out several leading cars. Despite contact with the Manthey Porsche, Audi Sport Team Phoenix of Dries Vanthoor, Fred Vervisch, Kelvin van der Linde and Robin Frijns came out on top to win the 50th edition of the ‘N24’.
Click HERE to read our report of the first 8 hours.
Even after the contact, it was far from plain sailing for the experienced Audi squad.
Just after the eight-hour mark, Kelvin van der Linde misjudged an overtake on one of the many Porsche Caymans in the field, clipping the front of the Cayman and sending both cars into the barriers at high speed, eliminating the #5 Scherer Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 from the race. Luckily for Van der Linde, he was entered into the #15 sister car, keeping him in contention for the overall victory.
Shortly after, the #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R driven by Alessio Picariello was spun by Nico Müller exiting the first chicane. As Picariello waited to get his car back underway, he was clipped by the #89 Opel Astra which put a significant dent in both their cars and their races. Both ultimately got back in the race but lost several laps in the process.
The remaining night running didn’t see any major incidents, allowing the drivers to get settled into their rhythms and clock up the mileage until morning broke.
When morning did break, the anticipated fog decided to roll in, luckily not enough to disrupt the race but did give the drivers something to think about.
Robin Frijns, now aboard the lead #5 Phoenix Audi, may have been slightly distracted as the fog rolled into Adenauer Forst, making an audacious pass on the slower Huber Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. Luckily no contact was made and they both continued on their way in what was a scare for the long-time race leaders.
Max Hesse, aboard the troubled #72 BMW Junior Team car, lost the rear on the run through Kesselchen and smacked the barriers hard, destroying the rear end of his new M4 GT3 and ending their race early. This well and truly put the nail in the coffin for BMW and their hopes for further success at the Nordschleife. However, the #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 remained in the top five until late in the race.
Maxi Götz in the #3 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed was unfazed by the events happening around him and had set about catching the leading Audi. Reeling them in before pushing too hard into Aremberg and taking an unnecessary trip through the gravel trap. No damage was done but crucial time was lost as he scrabbled for grip on the run into the Fuchsröhre.
Götz soon after his rallycross experience handed the car over to Adam Christodoulou and then Fabian Schiller in what would turn out to be the start of the deciding chapter for the enthralling race.
As if any further drama was needed, rain started to fall with just four hours remaining in the race. This played havoc for the teams as the rain fell on and off for the next two hours, absolutely soaking sections of the circuit but leaving others baked in sunlight.
Schiller thrived in these conditions and quickly reeled in Dries Vanthoor who had taken over the leading Phoenix Audi. The Mercedes clearly able to work its tyres harder on the cooling track surface but Schiller couldn’t muscle his way through before the track started to dry out.
Ending his stint still in second, GetSpeed switched Götz back into the car to have a crack at passing the Audi but just as he got going, it all fell apart for the GetSpeed team.
On his out lap, the heavens opened on various portions of the circuit and with the team having chosen slicks, Götz was a sitting duck as the rain continued to pound down.
Fortunately for the Phoenix squad, their pitstop came a lap later. Vanthoor switched with van der Linde and the team opted for cut slicks for that crucial extra purchase in the difficult conditions.
This proved the right decision and he easily pulled away from the pink Mercedes to score the sixth victory for the Meuspath-based team and their first since the 2019 running. Coming home 55-seconds clear of the first of the GetSpeed Mercedes. A 32-second penalty for keeping the engine running while jacked up reduced the gap to 23 second but didn’t change the order.
Just holding onto contention heading into the final hour was the #20 Schubert BMW – the German marque’s last chance at victory after their remaining cars all fell by the wayside early in the running. Unfortunately, a brake failure ended their race just minutes before the chequered flag fell.
There was controversy at the final splash and dash pitstops as van der Linde switched his engine on as the fuel was still flowing, a big no no. This could have cost them victory but the stewards took no further action and the top three were confirmed as follows:
1. #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 GT3 (K. Van der Linde/D. Vanthoor/Vervisch/Frijns)
2. #3 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Götz/Schiller/Christodoulou)
3. #4 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Engel/Gounon/Juncadella)
For the full results, click HERE.
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