One-sixth of the way through the race and late drama for the leading #30 Frikadelli Racing Team Ferrari 296 GT3 as it maintains the lead with a 30-second gap back to the second placed #2 Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Adam Christodoulou, Maximilian Götz and Fabian Schiller.
Having completed a 5-lap stint the Ferrari picked up a puncture somewhere in the last sector but was able to get back into the pits before the tyre disintegrated and destroyed bodywork. A quick turnaround by the pit crew got the car back out on track in 16th place with work to do but the race not yet lost.
The #2 Mercedes inherited the lead whilst behind it was Jules Gounon having taken over from Maro Engel in the #3 Getspeed Mercedes promoted to second place, taking the place from Fred Vervisch in the #1 Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 in a committed overtake at turn 1.
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The #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 team, with Marciello behind the wheel, remained optimistic despite the challenging starting phase. Marciello praised the speed of their car, recognizing it as a crucial advantage in the competition.
“The starting phase was okay overall. The car is fast and that’s the most important thing,” said Marciello after his stint.
Martin Tomczyk from the #40 Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II team noted that the traffic initially wasn’t too troublesome, but as time passed, the challenges grew.
“I’ve now driven my first stint and the 24-hour race turned out to be a real sprint race. The traffic wasn’t that bad at the beginning, but then it got worse. You’re riding in the same train here. The race is difficult to read. You have to drive clean but fast.”
In the midst of the intense competition, the #121 Opel Manta team faced the challenge of contending with the faster GT3 cars. Volker Strycek acknowledged the need for intense concentration and adaptability when dealing with fast-paced GT3 cars. He expressed concern that they would eventually run out of space on the track.
Both the #57 Opel Astra TCR and #125 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992) teams encountered their own share of troubles. The Opel had to be taken to the garage for repairs after a collision involving the Manthey team. Meanwhile, the Porsche experienced a bonnet malfunction, affecting visibility. Nevertheless, the drivers managed to handle the situations and soldier on.
Technical issues plagued other teams as well. The #88 BMW M4 GT4 (G82) and #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 teams both faced technical defects in different areas of the track, adding to the unpredictability of the race.
As the race progressed, position penalties were handed out for various violations. The #542 BMW 325i received a time penalty for disregarding Code 60, while the #47 Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO 2023 team successfully proved that they did not violate the Code and avoided the penalty.
The class battles were also intense. The #330 BMW 330i led comfortably in the VT2 class, while the #830 Hyundai Elantra TCR managed to move up despite a position penalty in qualifying. Both teams demonstrated their resilience and determination to excel in their respective classes.
Amidst the challenges and setbacks, some drivers managed to find joy in the race. Arjun Maini, participating in his first 24-hour race with the #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3 team, marveled at the incredible formation lap and the intense battles for position. He relished the opportunity.