As we cross the two-hour mark of the ADAC Total Energies 24-hour of Nürburgring the #30 Frikadelli Racing Team Ferrari 296 GT3 of Earl Bamber, Nick Catsburg, David Pittard and Felipe Fernández Laser hold the lead after David Pittard put in the hard work at the start to get to the front ahead of the #4 Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3 and the #3 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3.
The ADAC Total Energies 24-hour of Nürburgring kicked off with great anticipation and excitement. The cars lined up on the grid, ready to tackle the grueling race ahead. Raffaele Marciello, driving the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, secured the pole position, while Maro Engel in the #3 car started in second place.
As the race began, the drivers wasted no time in pushing their limits. David Pittard, starting from fourth position, made a bold move to out brake the frontrunners into turn one. For a brief moment, he managed to snatch second place from Marciello. However, Marco Mapelli in the #27 Lamborghini fought back fiercely and reclaimed second position, with Pittard slipping back to third. This intense battle also pushed Maro Engel down to fourth place.
Marciello started on pole with Maro Engel in P2. At the start David Pittard pushed hard from P4 on the grid attempting to outbrake the front 2 into turn one. His effort got him momentarliyl into P2 but Marco Mapelli pushed back to take P2 ahead of Pittard and pushing Engel back to fourth place.
The battle for the lead was fierce as the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Marciello, Stolz, Ellis, and Mortara, fought to maintain their position against the determined Mapelli in the #27 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2. Lap after lap, the drivers pushed their limits, trading blows, but Marciello held on. And as the first lap came to an end, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 led the pack, closely followed by the Lamborghini and the #30 Ferrari 296 GT3 of Bamber, Catsburg, Pittard, and Fernandez Lasers.
After 25 minutes Mapelli made his move on the leader and made his way past the #4 Mercedes of Raffaele Marciello.
Despite pulling away early on, Mapelli was caught through the Stefan Bellof S and Marciello certainly made his presence clear to the leading Lamborghini. Behind the pair fighting at the front, David Pittard was close behind waiting for his own opportunity.
As the three headed down the Dottinger Hohe, the Lamborghini was able to stretch its legs and pulled away from Marciello who had Pittard snapping at his heels.
Maro Engel made his move on Marciello at Flugplatz to take P3. Held up by a back marker Engel took his chance and cleared the Mercedes allowing him to chase after the Ferrari of Pittard and Lamborghini of Mapelli, both of which had pulled out a 3.5 second lead of third place.
Neil Verhagen, driving the #72 BMW M4 GT3, showcased his skill as he overtook the #33 Porsche 911 GT3 R on the Döttinger Höhe, moving up the ranks. Meanwhile, Raffaele Marciello maintained his lead, with the #27 Lamborghini of Van der Linde, Mapelli, Pepper, and Thiim hot on his tail. The #30 Ferrari 296 GT3, piloted by Bamber, Catsburg, Pittard, and Fernandez Lasers, showed impressive performance, climbing up to third place.
Marciello set the fastest lap on the first lap, demonstrating his determination to stay in the lead. However, Sven Müller in the #33 Porsche experienced a setback and dropped back to 15th place. The competition was fierce throughout the field, with each driver fighting for position and battling the demanding Nürburgring circuit.
Throughout the track, various teams faced their own challenges and triumphs. The #527 Hyundai Motor I30N, leading the VT2 Front class, encountered an unexpected setback as the underbody loosened, threatening their position. Meanwhile, in a display of sheer determination, Marciello set the fastest lap closely followed by Mapelli, who was only 0.01 seconds slower.
As the race unfolded, drivers battled fiercely for every position. Daniel Keilwitz in the #20 Ferrari 296 GT3 made a bold move, overtaking Verhagen in the #72 BMW M4 GT3, climbing up the ranks. In the TCR class, Marc Basseng in the #830 Hyundai Elantra TCR faced an uphill battle after receiving a penalty, forcing him to navigate through the traffic to regain his position at the top.
With each passing lap, the tension mounted. Winkelhock in the #16 Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II skillfully surpassed two opponents, securing the eighth position. However, the race was not without its challenges. Dennis Fetzer in the #25 Porsche 911 GT3 R encountered trouble in the Adenauer Forst approach area, and Sven Müller in the #33 Porsche dropped to fifteenth place.
The intensity continued to build as the drivers navigated the track, facing challenges and adapting their strategies. Neil Verhagen took advantage of the pit stops and emerged as the new leader in the junior BMW, while Van der Linde handed over the #27 Lamborghini to his teammate.
The pit stops proved a disaster for Marciello who picked up a 30 second penalty for blocking Maro Engel at the pitlane exit as he was forced to slow his approach to the pit exit to keep within the pit stop time. Despite the penalty, the #4 Mercedes-AMG managed to regain positions, overtaking the #3 Mercedes-AMG and securing second place. The competition remained fierce, with teams strategizing and pushing their limits.
Disaster also struck the early leader, the #27 ABT Lamborghini, who having taken a later pit stop had now dropped to seventh place and with Kelvin van der Linde on board suffered a puncture which saw him limp the car nearly halfway around the track back to the pit lane.
Meanwhile, the #30 Ferrari 296 GT3 with David Pittard behind the wheel was having a fantastic drive, showcasing a strong performance and taking the lead after everyone completed their pit stops.
As the race continued, the #30 Ferrari maintained its lead, closely followed by the #3 Mercedes-AMG of Engel, Gounon, and Juncadella, and the #4 Mercedes-AMG of Marciello, Stolz, Ellis, and Mortara. The #44 Porsche of Eriksson, Heinemann, Menzel, and Ragginger also showed impressive performance, securing the fourth position.
Elsewhere in the race the #184 Porsche Cayman GT4 CS, driven by Schmäing, Handrick, Meyer, and Baunack, encountered a mechanical issue with a defective radiator, leading to cooling water being distributed on the Nordschleife section of the track. The stranded Cayman triggered a Code 60 phase in the Eschbach area, temporarily affecting race conditions.
Pittard in the #30 Ferrari set the fastest race lap, demonstrating the team’s strong performance on the track.
Throughout the opening two hours, several incidents occurred, such as the #184 Porsche Cayman encountering further issues and coming to a stop at Post 160.
The challenges continued, with the #33 Porsche 911 GT3 R spinning on the Grand Prix circuit after contact with lapping traffic, leading to a pit stop for a check-up and tire change. The #124 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup also experienced difficulties after a crash, ultimately forcing them to retire from the race.
Meanwhile, the #535 BMW 328i incurred a time penalty for falling short of the prescribed time in the pits. The team had to serve a 59-second penalty, adding further pressure to their race.
Despite the hurdles, the teams pressed on. The #27 Lamborghini encountered another spin after leaving the pit lane but managed to continue without significant damage. The #222 Mercedes-AMG GT2 experienced a technical defect in the Hohe Acht area, resulting in its towing and causing a Code 60 at that location.
As the clock approached the two-hour mark Kevin Estre driving the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 992 GT3R picked up a puncture at the final corner of the lap which saw him spin into the barrier just metres from the pit entry.
Kevin Estre reflected on the incident, explaining that he believed a tire had burst while braking in Hohenrain, causing the rear to lose control. Despite the setback, the team remained hopeful and focused on getting back in the race.
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