18 hours into the race and the #30 Frikadelli Racing Ferrari continues to hang onto the lead of the race with the #2 GetSpeed Mercedes still in the mix and challenging for the win. Joining the pair is the #98 Rowe Racing BMW M4 GT3 of Marco Wittmann, Sheldon van der Linde, Dries Vanthoor and Maxime Martin. The BMW sits between the pair in second place.
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Among the pack, the #330 Zils/Sandberg/Leisen/Erlbacher BMW 330i was making a dominant statement. Oskar Sandberg showcased his skill and determination, steadily extending his lead in the VT2 rear class. With each blistering lap, he widened the gap, now leaving his rivals behind by more than two laps. But Sandberg’s achievements didn’t stop there; he had also taken the lead in all production cars, solidifying his position as a force to be reckoned with.
Meanwhile, the #99 Farfus/Philipp/De Philippi/Yelloly BMW M4 GT3 team was in the midst of their race strategy. As Philipp Eng prepared to take over from his teammate, Connor, he reflected on the intense warm-up lap. The track had been chaotic at the start, but as the race settled into its rhythm, everyone found their groove. Eng knew it was crucial for them to maintain their excellent performance. With the nightfall approaching, he geared up mentally to tackle his first laps under the cover of darkness.
Not far behind, the #185 Miller/Casares Garcia/Scholl/Dontje Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport encountered a challenging moment. Dreher lost control at Aremberg, causing a spin that sent shockwaves through the team. They now found themselves stranded, in need of assistance to get back on track. The adversity would test their resolve, but their determination would not waver.
In the midst of the intense competition, the #2 Christodoulou/Götz/Schiller Mercedes-AMG GT3 emerged as a strong contender. Adam Christodoulou took charge and seized the overall lead, setting a relentless pace. His performance showcased the essence of endurance racing, pushing both himself and his car to the limit.
However, penalties also made their presence felt on the Nürburgring track. The #551 Ruhrmann/Weber/Schulz/Nikolaus Porsche Cayman CM12 received a 30-second penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane. The consequences of their violation served as a stark reminder that even the smallest errors could have significant repercussions in this unforgiving race.
Another penalty was handed out, this time to the #67 Nouet/Funke/Schädler/Weishar Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 team. They were penalized with an additional 33 seconds for failing to meet the minimum pit lane time. It was a costly mistake that put them further behind their rivals, challenging their chances of climbing up the ranks.
The challenges continued to unfold. The #185 Miller/Casares Garcia/Scholl/Dontje Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport found themselves in a precarious situation after a spin at the Schwedenkreuz area. The impact left them stranded near Aremberg, requiring immediate rescue. It was a setback that demanded swift action to salvage their race and keep their aspirations alive.
Meanwhile, the #72 Harper/Hesse/Verhagen BMW M4 GT3 showcased remarkable skill and determination. Hesse executed a daring maneuver, overtaking the leading #2 Christodoulou/Götz/Schiller Mercedes-AMG GT3 at the end of the treacherous Döttinger Höhe. The exhilaration of taking the lead, however, was short-lived as both cars immediately dove into the pit lane, mirroring each other’s movements in a synchronized display of strategy.
With 19 vehicles still racing around the demanding circuit, the battle for supremacy raged on. The #163 Michele/Nagelsdiek/Veremenko/Selivanov Porsche 911 GT3 Cup team fought their way up to P29, displaying impressive tenacity as the best non-GT3 team. Their determination to challenge the more powerful cars was a testament to their skill and resilience.
Unfortunately, not all teams managed to avoid penalties. The #78 Dumarey/Sokolovskiy/Hess/Adams Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 received a harsh penalty of 3 minutes and 32 seconds, accompanied by a penalty point in the DSMB register. Their repeated failure to heed flag signals in a code 60 zone revealed a lack of discipline that could cost them dearly in the race.
Among the SP9 class, the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R faced a series of setbacks. After a spin in the Hohenrain chicane due to a puncture, their troubles persisted. Despite losing precious time, the team displayed their skill and resilience, making their way back into the race. However, ongoing tyre problems plagued their progress, with no clear cause in sight. With caution in mind, they made the difficult decision to withdraw the Grello from the race, ending their hopes of a podium finish.
As daylight broke over the track, the challenges intensified. The #5 Scherer Sport PHX Audi and the sister #1 Audi, along with the #54 Dinamic GT Porsche, all succumbed to crashes within a mere 15 minutes, adding a dose of drama to the race. The unpredictable nature of the Nürburgring demanded utmost concentration and precision, as even the slightest misstep could have catastrophic consequences.
Various incidents unfolded throughout the field. The much fancied #72 BMW Junior Team with Dan Harper behind the wheel suffered a puncture and spun at Brünnchen. The #99 ROWE BMW made unfortunate contact with a slower car, forcing them into early retirement. The #54 Dinamic GT Porsche was also involved in a massive crash with the Dacia ending both of their races.
Penalties also made their presence felt. The #13 Albrecht/Sczepansky/Ecke/Schlichenmeier Porsche 911 GT3 Cup received a 1:32 time penalty for violating the speed limit in a code 60 zone, a reminder of the importance of adhering to race regulations. Similarly, the #227 Griesemann/Griesemann/von der Laden/Adorf Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO 2023 faced a time penalty of 1:32 minutes for speeding during a code 60 zone, further emphasizing the need for caution in restricted areas.
Amidst the challenges and penalties, the spirit of endurance racing prevailed. The #526 Petrolo/Quante/Ebener/Kurz BMW 330i navigated the Karusell area with caution, mindful of the treacherous terrain. The #126 Cooper/Collarings/Mönch/Sauerbrei BMW Mini John Cooper Works team demonstrated enthusiasm and excitement, as Christoph Collarings, a journalist turned driver, reveled in the experience of being on the track himself for the first time.
However, not all cars were fortunate to continue without technical issues. The #7 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini encountered a technical problem at the end of the start/finish straight, challenging the team’s resolve to overcome adversity. The #120 Supaphongs/Jian Hong/Kawamura/Vasuratna Toyota Corolla Altis faced a time penalty of 1:36 minutes due to a pit stop that fell short of the required duration.
As the race progressed, drivers shared their experiences. Felipe Fernandez Laser of the #30 Frikadelli Ferrari 296 GT3 noted the smoothness of his stint, though the foggy conditions added an additional layer of challenge. Robin Chrzanowski of the #169 Chrzanowski/Jodexnis/Scharmach/Pereira Porsche 911 GT3 Cup celebrated a successful stint, closing the gap to the class leader and fueling hopes for a podium finish.
In the midst of the action, the #562 Egbert/Heuchemer/Heuchemer/Kloft Porsche 911 Carrera team marveled at the beauty of driving at dawn. With relatively fewer accidents and manageable traffic, they found solace in the tranquility of the moment, despite remnants of debris from previous incidents posing minor obstacles.
In a strategic move, the #4 Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3 saw Philip Ellis handing over the reins to Rafaelle Marciello, keeping the team’s hopes alive as they aimed for a strong finish.
Race control reassured drivers that the fog captured on camera images did not impose any immediate restrictions, offering a glimmer of relief amid the intense competition.
The Nürburgring endurance race continued to push the limits of both man and machine, as the competitors faced a myriad of challenges and setbacks. The #245 Zerlin/Wambach/Kulpowicz/Fischer BMW M240i Racing Cup experienced a loss of power, necessitating a pit stop for a thorough check-up. With the issue addressed, they were determined to continue their race, eager to make up for lost time.
Sami-Matti Trogen driving the #100 Walkenhorst BMW M4 GT3 took the wheel during the early hours of the morning, facing a flurry of activity on the track. The heavy traffic and challenging conditions tested his mettle, but Trogen remained unfazed, embracing the demanding nature of the race. Even the fog posed no obstacle for him, showcasing his unwavering focus and determination to overcome any hurdles.
Unfortunately, not all teams could continue their journey. The #72 BMW Junior Team RMG BMW M4 GT3 of Dan Harper, Max Hesse and Neil Verhagen had to accept their fate and the damage picked up during Harper’s puncture would impact Max Hesse’s stint and would see them not return to the track, a disappointing end to their race.
Penalties continued to shape the race, with the #562 Egbert/Heuchemer/Heuchemer/Kloft Porsche 911 Carrera being slapped with a 30-second time penalty for exceeding the speed limit in the pit lane. Similarly, the #111 Rost/Rost/Baumann/Schemmann VW Scirocco R TSI received the same penalty for disregarding the maximum speed in the pit lane.
Tire troubles struck the #526 Petrolo/Quante/Ebener/Kurz BMW 330i as they battled a punctured tyre they picked up at Bergwerk. Their journey back to the start and finish line was sluggish, testing their patience and resilience.
Nico Menzel of the #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) reflected on the night’s events. Despite a minor incident that cost them a few minutes, they navigated through the darkness with relative success. Menzel acknowledged the need for vigilance, as debris littered the track, and some drivers seemed oblivious to race etiquette. Although he felt the fatigue, he recognized that there were still eight and a half hours remaining, and they had the opportunity to make up ground in the rankings.
The Nürburgring track continued to prove unforgiving for some teams. The #89 Wahl/Wahl/Renger/Kroker Mercedes-AMG AMG GT4 came to an abrupt halt in the Hatzenbach, crashing into the tyre wall. Thankfully, the driver emerged unharmed, but their race came to an unfortunate end.
The #152 Czyborra/Huisman/Huisman/Moesgen Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) suffered a similar fate, crashing at the same spot as the #89 Wahl/Wahl/Renger/Kroker Mercedes-AMG AMG GT4. Despite the accident, the driver managed to exit the vehicle unassisted, a testament to the robust safety measures in place.
The #108 Jodexnis/Menzenbach/Primke VW GOLF GTI TCR DSG found itself in a precarious situation, ending up in the gravel bed after colliding with the crash barriers at the end of the start-finish straight.
Penalties would also play a role in determining the standings. The #25 Huber Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) received a 33-second penalty for failing to meet the minimum pit stop time, highlighting the significance of adhering to the rules and regulations.
The #46 Jäger/Bird/Erhart/Viebahn Mercedes-AMG GT2 driver, Frank Bird, relished the opportunity to race under the rising sun, describing it as a remarkable experience. With a positive outlook, he hoped for smooth sailing throughout the remainder of the race, cherishing every moment on the legendary Nordschleife.
The #40 Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX team executed their plans flawlessly, reporting no incidents thus far. Timo Scheider shared his anticipation for his upcoming double stint, eagerly looking forward to making progress towards their goal of securing a top 10 position. Though the gaps to the leaders remained sizable, their determination remained unwavering.
The #7 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracan GT3 encountered a devastating setback when a piece of the clutch blew off, damaging a sensor and causing the car’s computer to malfunction. Faced with the daunting prospect of extensive repairs, the team decided to withdraw, realizing they had already faced enough hardships throughout the race. The team boss, Franz Konrad, expressed his disappointment, considering it the most challenging 24-hour race he had ever experienced.
The #320 Smudo/Bollerslev/Kiefer/von Löwis of Menar Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) found themselves on the receiving end of a time penalty of 3 minutes and 32 seconds for disregarding flag signals for the second time. Such penalties added further complexity to their race strategy.
Hubert Haupt, driving the #6 Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3, expressed contentment with his performance, praising his fast lap times and minimal traffic during his two stints on the track. His smooth and efficient driving contributed to the team’s progress.
The #81 Martin/Wohlwend/Mann/Visser BMW M4 GT4 (G82) faced a setback as they collided with another competitor, damaging their rear axle. The team diligently worked to replace the damaged parts, aiming to get back on track as soon as possible.
Troubles persisted for the #25 Huber Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) as they encountered steering issues, necessitating a push into the pits for repairs. The team faced a race against time to rectify the problem and rejoin the competition.
The #98 Rowe Racing BMW M4 GT3 focused on a strategic approach, prioritizing safety and clean driving to navigate through the challenges. Marco Wittmann emphasized their intention to avoid unnecessary risks, considering it too early in the race to take aggressive actions. Nonetheless, their well-executed strategy allowed them to secure a competitive position, with a potential podium finish within reach.
During his stint, Henry Walkenhorst of the #100 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 encountered numerous accidents and debris on the track but managed to emerge unscathed. He highlighted the chaotic conditions and the need for caution amidst the challenging circumstances.
The #535 Manheller/von Görtz/Seki/Owen BMW 328i faced an unexpected issue when the bonnet catch came loose, causing the bonnet to flap while driving. The team swiftly resolved the problem and got their 3 Series back on track, determined to make up for lost time.
The #96 Rutronik Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) experienced a relatively smooth race without any technical or incident-related troubles. Matteo Cairoli expressed satisfaction with the car’s performance, underlining their strong position in the competition.
The #19 Racing one Ferrari 296 GT3 suffered a punctured right front tire, forcing Stefan Aust to navigate the treacherous track at a reduced pace as he made his way back to the pits for a tire change.
Dennis Marschall of the #22 Audi Sport Team Car Collection Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II noted the challenges they faced during the daylight hours, acknowledging that their rivals had gained an advantage. However, he remained determined, ready to face the obstacles head-on.
The #39 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 evo II had a clean morning stint, with Patric Niederhauser expressing satisfaction with the car’s condition. Although they acknowledged their pace was slightly lacking compared to the frontrunners, they remained optimistic, aware that anything could happen in the race’s remaining hours.
Technical problems plagued the #240 Lange/Lott/Heidrich/Volmer BMW M240i Racing Cup, leaving the car unable to start and forcing them into the pits for extensive repairs. The team worked diligently to rectify the issue and resume their pursuit on the track.
Similarly, the #125 Wehrmann/Berg/Kiefer Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992) faced technical problems and sought repairs in the pit lane, joining other cars undergoing maintenance, such as the #25 Fetzer/Ledogar/Kern/Dumas Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) and the #7 Jefferies/Buurman/Soufi/Lefterov Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
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