The 2022 ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring has already proved a tough challenge for a variety of pre-race favourites with the Manthey Racing, Rowe Racing and Toksport WRT all retiring by the 4-hour mark.
An intense first eight hours sees the #15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix of Fred Vervisch, Kelvin van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Robin Frijns leading.
After the crazy weather of the 2021 edition, the 2022 Nürburgring 24 Hours got underway with blue skies above the 25 kilometre circuit.
After a shock pole position, the #26 Octane126 Ferrari 488 GT3 led away from pole position with the rest of the pack hunting down the prancing horse, eager to displace Jonathan Hirschi from the front.
Jordan Pepper in the #7 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 didn’t wait around for too long and performed an almost traditional N24 manoeuvre placing two of his Michelin tyres onto the grass on the run up towards Klostertal.
Shortly afterwards, Hirshi in the Octane126 Ferrari handed the car over to the former single seater ace, Simon Trummer. Unfortunately, their race unravelled rather quickly as contact with a slower car caused a left rear puncture, dropping them way down the order as he crawled back to the pits.
Speaking of pits, a selection of cars opted to run off strategy and pit after just five laps of action. The #1 Manthey Racing Porsche 991.2 GT3R, #98 Rowe Racing BMW M4 GT3 and the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 all opted to run this strategy to gain clear track which ultimately would pay dividends.
Further drama (also in the pitlane) caught two of the race favourites in a clumsy incident. The #99 Rowe BMW and the #27 Toksport WRT Porsche 991.2 GT3R pitted on the same lap as expected but in the team’s haste, the BMW was released into the path of the Porsche. Unfortunately for the Porsche, now piloted by Julien Andlauder, slight contact was made, tearing the dive planes off the left front of the rear-engined machine.
The stewards inevitably took to investigating the incident but before they could make a decision, the #99 BMW with Nick Yelloly behind the wheel careered into the side of the Porsche into the Veedol chicane. This ripped the left rear tyre from the Porsche and ultimately forced both cars into an early retirement
At this point in the race, Manthey Racing had claimed the lead thanks to their alternate strategy. However, Maxime Martin in the #90 Aston Martin had other ideas. Swiftly catching and passing the Porsche before stretching into a huge advantage that the car would maintain until later in the race.
Manthey meanwhile was struggling for pace and was now being picked off one by one until it was Laurens Vanthoor behind the wheel. Heading down the Döttinger Höhe, Dries Vanthoor in the #15 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 drafted up alongside his older brother in the run through Tiergarten.
Laurens meanwhile made the slightest of contact with the left side of the Audi which pitched his Porsche into a terrifying spin at 280 kph and smashed into the inside barriers, narrowly missing the marshals stationed nearby.
Luckily, everyone was perfectly OK, however the car was far from it. The front-end was heavily damaged with fluid pouring from what remained of the radiator leaving the team with no choice but to retire the car just four hours into the race.
Two further hours passed as the race settled down with even a fully green track at points which truly allowed the drivers to stretch their legs and pull out some impressive lap times.
Then just after the six-hour mark, the Cup X KTM X-Bow GT4 of Felix von der Laden spectacularly caught fire on the run into Schwedenkreuz. Felix pulled over at the nearest marshal post and hopped out of the clam shell cockpit. Meanwhile, the KTM started rolling and re-entered the track on the run down to the Fuchsröhre fully ablaze but with no driver behind the wheel.
It didn’t get too far before hitting the barriers and coming to a stop for good giving the fire marshals a chance to contain the blaze and save what remained of the burned out KTM.
Another hour then passed with the Aston Martin holding a commanding advantage over the remaining Rowe BMW with the #15 Phoenix Audi, having survived its earlier skirmish in third.
As if the leading cars hadn’t already hit enough trouble, the #90 TF Sport Aston Martin slid off into the barriers on a patch of oil eliminating the long-term race leader just prior to Döttinger Höhe.
Then just moments later, the Rowe BMW suffered a front right failure heading into Bergwerk and clattered into the barriers ripping off the front right corner of the car and putting an early end to Rowe’s day.
Finally, just prior to the eight-hour mark, Ricardo Feller in the #5 Phoenix Audi was slapped with a two minute and 30-second penalty for a Code 60 infringement
With eight hours now having elapsed, the top three look like this:
1st: #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 GT3
2nd: #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW M4 GT3
3rd: #4 Getspeed Mercedes AMG GT3
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