Falken Motorsports made it two-for-two to become the first winner of the VLN Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) 12 Hours of the Nürburgring. The four-men line-up of Joel Eriksson, Jaxon Evans, Sven Müller and Alessio Picariello piloted their #3 Porsche 991.2 GT3R to victory in the two-part race held in tricky weather conditions on Saturday and a dry and sunny Sunday.
A wet and wild qualifying saw Kuba Giermaziak once again turn heads with another pole position but having picked the wrong tyres for the start, teammate Kim Luis Schramm was unable to hold on for the start. Instead, it was the rain tyre-shod #117 G-Tech Competition Porsche 992 GT3 Cup of Fabio Grosse who stormed to the front to challenge the big GT3s and took the lead from Frank Stippler’s #5 Scherer Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 in Galgenkopf at the end of the opening lap. On the dry Grand Prix track, however, Stippler got back in front making the best use of his cut slicks. Arriving at Klostertal for the second time around, rain was still coming down allowing Grosse to pick up speed and once again pass Stippler – who was being attacked on all sides by cars on rain tyres. One of them, the #26 Octane126 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Luca Ludwig, would soon reach the Cup class Porsche and move into the lead ending Grosse’s short but magnificent run in first place. For the next hours, the Ferrari stood its ground.
While Luca Ludwig and Björn Grossmann took turns at the wheel of the leading Ferrari, the #3 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Sven Müller, Joel Eriksson, Jaxon Evans and Alessio Picariello stayed within range of the Swiss team only to strike in the third hour with a decisive overtake by Picariello on Grossmann. Ahead at sunset, the Falken crew would restart the next day from the lead in front of the #26 Octane126 Ferrari 488.
The sun was out on Sunday morning when the field went racing again. Giermaziak was back in excellent form as he worked from third to first within ten laps, overtaking Evans in heavy traffic at Bergwerk.
Phoenix Racing’s lightning pace unlikely would’ve been matched by anyone, if it wasn’t for a miscalculation: after 57 laps, Schramm came crawling into the pits having run out of fuel and lost his marginal lead over Müller’s Falken Porsche.
The time lost would be unrecoverable for the Audi squad. In the remaining three hours, the Falken Porsche managed the gap and despite a late charge by Giermaziak would cross the finish line after 79 laps 15 seconds ahead of the Phoenix Audi.
Taking the final spot on the podium was the #5 Scherer Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 of pilots Frank Stippler and Vincent Kolb who again had a great outing resulting in their third consecutive podium finish.
In the dry, Octane126 couldn’t keep up the high pace of the day before. Despite a strong run, fourth place was the best result the Ferrari crew could muster after its performance slowly dropped off in the second half.
Coming home in an excellent fifth place, Schnitzelalm Racing’s #11 Mercedes-AMG GT3 raced by Marcel Marchewicz and Marek Böckmann equalled its best result of the season so far. The GT3 newcomers started from eleventh on the grid, moved up in the later hours of Saturday’s running and held steady throughout Sunday.
The final two cars on the lead lap were the #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche 991.2 GT3R of Klaus Bachler, Ayhancan Güven, Côme Ledogar and Martin Ragginger and the #55 Landgraf Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Patrick Assenheimer, Luca-Sandro Trefz and Julien Apothéloz. The #23 Lionspeed by Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3, #17 ProSport Racing Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT3 and #2 Schnitzelalm Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 completed the top 10.
NLS returns on 8 October with the 54. Zewotherm ADAC Barbarossapreis for a regular four-hour race through the Eifel.
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