With over 60 laps complete the virtual lead remains with David Pittard in the #30 Frikadelli Ferrari whilst on the road Adam Christodoulou leads in the #2 GetSpeed Mercedes. All will change in the upcoming pitstops but so far the race looks to be between Ferrari and Mercedes.
As dusk settled over the track, the changing light conditions added another challenge to an already demanding race.
The #30 Frikadelli Ferrari 296 GT3, driven by Bamber, Catsburg, Pittard, and Fernandez Laser, experienced a punctured tyre, forcing them into an early pit stop. Despite the setback, they managed to minimize the time loss and switch drivers.
The #46 Mercedes-AMG GT2, driven by Jäger, Bird, Erhart, and Viebahn, had a collision with another car, damaging the tie rod at the front. After repairs and adjustments, they were confident of returning to the race soon.
The race continued with intense battles for position, including the #3 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 overtaking the #1 Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 on the GP track. The competition was fierce, and every driver was pushing their limits.
Throughout the race, teams faced penalties for various infractions. The #57 Opel Astra TCR received a one-minute time penalty for speeding in the pit lane, while the #420 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport incurred a 54-second penalty for a shortfall in the minimum pit stop time.
The #4 Bilstein Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Marciello, Stolz, Ellis, and Mortara, encountered several Code 60 situations, but despite the challenging conditions, they managed to maintain a good balance and keep the car running well.
As darkness settled over the track, drivers faced the onset of night and the changing conditions it brought. Some struggled to adapt, leading to chaotic moments and yellow flag phases.
In the midst of the chaos, the #20 WTM by Rinaldi Racing Ferrari 296 GT3, driven by Weiss, Krumbach, Keilwitz, and Dontje, was running well. Daniel Keilwitz acknowledged the challenging conditions but remained focused on maintaining their pace and avoiding mistakes. They were determined not to take unnecessary risks while still aiming to push forward.
However, not all cars were fortunate enough to continue without issues. The #101 Walkenhorst Motorsport BMW M4 GT3, piloted by Krognes, Giermaziak, Krohn, and Soucek, made contact with another car, resulting in a broken front right suspension. Despite the damage, the team managed to continue, albeit with a significant time loss.
Meanwhile, the #2 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Christodoulou, Götz, and Schiller, and the #99 Rowe Racing BMW M4 GT, driven by Farfus, Philipp, De Philippi, and Yelloly, both pitted from the lead, followed by the #96 Rutronik Racing Porsche 992 GT3R driven by Olsen, Cairoli, and Andlauer.
The battle for the lead continued, and the #72 BMW Junior Team RMG BMW M4 GT3, driven by Harper, Hesse, and Verhagen, emerged as the new leader. However, they knew they needed to stay vigilant and plan for their next pit stop.
As the race progressed, teams made strategic pit stops, including the #30 Ferrari 296 GT3, which took the lead again after a pit stop that included a rear section change. The competition remained fierce, with drivers vying for positions.
Punctures became a recurring issue across the grid, leaving teams puzzled about the cause. Ernst Moser expressed his concern about the punctures affecting several vehicles, particularly those with weight at the rear. The teams continued to analyse the situation, hoping to find a solution.
The #7 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3, driven by Jefferies, Buurman, Soufi, and Lefterov, faced a unique challenge as it was Soufi’s first time doing a double stint. Despite his limited experience with the car, Soufi tackled the situation well, learning and improving with each lap.
Teams faced their fair share of setbacks and challenges, such as electronic problems for the #114 Subaru WRX and a gearbox change for the #57 Opel Astra TCR. However, they persevered, repaired their cars, and resumed their race.
Benjamin Cartery, behind the wheel of the VW Golf GTI TCR DSG, was relishing his first stint, starting as the sun began to set and continuing under the mesmerizing glow of the moonlight. The track was clear, with minimal traffic and a fortunate absence of Code 60s, allowing for pure racing and an unforgettable experience.
With each passing lap, Cartery felt the thrill intensify. The team was in an excellent position, fueling his confidence and excitement. He couldn’t help but express his optimism, “If things continue like this, it should be a good race.” The atmosphere at the track was electric, resonating with the shared passion and determination of all the competitors. Cartery couldn’t have asked for a better debut in a 24-hour race.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the intense competition, the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3, piloted by Marciello, Stolz, Ellis, and Mortara, faced an unexpected hurdle. Philip Ellis found himself spinning at Galgenkopf, bringing the car to a standstill, perpendicular to the track. Despite this setback, Ellis managed to regain control and promptly headed straight to the pits.
In a different part of the race, the #118 Dacia Logan, driven by Kriese, Lachmayer, Weissermel, and Geilen, encountered a minor incident with a Lamborghini. Fortunately, it left no lasting damage, except for a slightly crooked steering wheel. The team swiftly dealt with the situation during a routine pit stop, replacing the brakes and fitting fresh tyres. Kriese couldn’t help but express his satisfaction, confirming that the Dacia was performing exceptionally well and a joy to drive.
Further down the field, the #98 BMW M4 GT3 celebrated their progress after the first six hours of the race. Team boss Hans-Peter Naundorf acknowledged the challenges they had overcome, acknowledging, “We’re still here – others haven’t made it this far.” The team’s strategy focused on avoiding the worst obstacles while maintaining a competitive pace, hopeful for a successful outcome.
However, not all teams enjoyed smooth sailing throughout the race. The #101 BMW M4 GT3, with Krognes, Giermaziak, Krohn, and Soucek at the helm, received a 32-second time penalty for causing a collision. This setback added pressure to an already demanding race, forcing the team to change strategy and adapt to make up for lost time.
Meanwhile, the #6 Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Haupt, Love, and Maini, confronted the challenges of the Nordschleife circuit. Haupt acknowledged the treacherous nature of the track, which was notorious for its sandy patches and the difficulties slower cars faced. Nevertheless, the team remained undeterred, with the car performing admirably. Their focus was to protect their vehicle while continuing their determined pursuit of victory.
Among the other contenders, the #527 Hyundai Motor I30N, driven by Willhardt, Bohrer, Holthaus, and Overbeck, experienced a rollercoaster of events. Michael Bohrer, the initial pole sitter, encountered an early setback with a puncture, necessitating an unscheduled pit stop. Despite this setback, Bohrer went on to complete a triple stint, extending beyond his planned double stint, in a remarkable display of determination. With the team making adjustments to their sister car due to an accident, the #527 Hyundai led the race after six hours with a substantial advantage of nearly a minute and half.
As the night deepened, the atmosphere at the track became even more surreal. The #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 992 GT3R, driven by Eriksson, Heinemann, Menzel, and Ragginger, embraced the challenges of racing under the moonlit sky. Nico Menzel, after completing a double stint, expressed his admiration for the unique atmosphere and the increasing speed of the race. He was determined to navigate the traffic and overcome the obstacles that came his way, fully aware that the race was becoming more intense as time progressed.
The #89 Mercedes-AMG AMG GT4, helmed by Wahl, Wahl, Renger, and Kroker, also embraced the transition from dusk to night. Reinhold Renger acknowledged the initial adjustment required when transitioning into the dark, but the team’s car performed impeccably, providing them with a solid foundation. As the night continued, they planned to switch to double stints, allowing their experienced night drivers to take the wheel and carry them forward.
Battling hard for position, the #72 BMW M4 GT3, driven by Harper, Hesse, and Verhagen, made a bold move. Taking advantage of a close duel between the #99 BMW and the #96 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Olsen, Cairoli, and Andlauer, Harper seized the opportunity. In an exhilarating maneuver, Harper overtook both cars in the slipstream, propelling himself into second place. Farfus fell behind in fourth place, struggling to keep up with the relentless pace of the competition. The trio of cars swiftly made their way to the pits to regroup and strategize.
The race was an extraordinary spectacle, weaving together stories of triumph, setbacks, and perseverance. The drivers pushed themselves to the limits, navigating the challenges of the Nürburgring circuit under the moonlit sky. The atmosphere was electrifying, as the smell of barbecues filled the air and fireworks lit up the night. It was an experience that surpassed all expectations, fueling the drivers’ determination to push forward and claim victory in this grueling 24-hour battle.
In a moment of misfortune, the #3 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3, with Maro Engel behind the wheel suffered a broken rear right wheel after a touch with another car in the Bellof-S area. Forced to bring the damaged vehicle into the pits, the team sprang into action, swiftly pushing the car into the garage for repairs, determined to get back into the race as quickly as possible.
Team Principal Adam Osieka hurried to assess the situation and make quick decisions. Recognizing the urgency, the team swiftly replaced the broken damper, managing the repair in just seven minutes. With their vehicle back on track, the determined team rejoined the race, fully aware that they had lost precious time. However, their spirit remained unbroken, and they set their sights on making up for the setback.
Despite their hard work the team was soon forced to make the difficult decision to withdraw from the race due to safety concerns. The damaged car posed risks, prompting the team to prioritize the well-being of their drivers.
Meanwhile, the #245 BMW M240i Racing Cup faced a different kind of challenge. Benno Zerlin, behind the wheel, received a time penalty of 3 minutes and 32 seconds for disregarding flag signals. On top of the penalty, Zerlin also earned a penalty point in the DMSB file, highlighting the consequences of his actions on the track. The team, Zerlin, Wambach, Kulpowicz, and Fischer, would have to strategize and find a way to recover from the penalty.
As the race progressed, more teams encountered obstacles of their own. The #331 BMW 330i suffered an accident in the treacherous Bilstein curve area, resulting in a badly damaged front end. Despite the setback, the resilient team of Faßbender, Lüthi, Winkler, and Jühlen managed to drive straight into the pits, showing their determination to keep going.
The #10 Schnitzelalm Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, piloted by Trefz, Heyer, Böckmann, and Marchewicz, experienced their fair share of challenges as well. In the midst of the fierce competition, they found themselves involved in two unnecessary hits, with the most recent one damaging the back right of their car. The team swiftly swapped the gearbox, ensuring that the vehicle remained in the race. Additionally, an oil line had broken on the #222 GT2, further complicating their efforts. The team faced a race against time to repair the damage and rejoin the competition, fully aware of the cost in precious minutes.
Another dramatic moment occurred when the #533 Hyundai Motor I30N suffered a vehicle fire at post 119. Fortunately, the fire was quickly extinguished, preventing further damage and potential disaster. The relieved team of Mertens, Schumann, Fischer, and Schroers worked diligently to get their car back on track and back in the running.
Amidst the chaos and setbacks, there were also moments of triumph. The #30 Ferrari 296 GT3, holding the lead, pitted to allow David Pittard to take the wheel once again. The team executed their strategy flawlessly, maintaining their competitive edge.
However, the battle for the lead was far from over. The #98 BMW M4 GT3, driven by Wittmann, van der Linde, Vanthoor, and Maxime, emerged as the new leader, with Sheldon van der Linde taking control of the wheel. The Rowe-BMW team showcased their determination and skill, pushing their way to the front.
In the midst of the intense competition, the #246 BMW M240i, driven by Markert, Steinberg, Fübrich, and Kruse, were pushing hard. Yannick Fübrich, displaying exceptional skill and strategy, managed to regain the lead in the M240i class. The team’s relentless pursuit of victory fueled their efforts as they pushed their way to the front.
Simultaneously, the #227 Toyota GR Supra GT4 EVO 2023, piloted by Griesemann, Griesemann, von der Laden, and Adorf, experienced a significant breakthrough. They overtook the long-time leaders, the Four Motors Porsche #320, driven by Smudo, Bollerslev, Kiefer, and von Löwis of Menar, in the alternative fuel class. The Toyota team’s perseverance paid off as they claimed the top position, leaving their competitors behind.
In the Cup2 class, the #123 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (992) led the way, with Bünnagel, Müller, and Brundle skillfully navigating the challenging track. They maintained their lead, closely followed by the #163 and #161 Porsche teams, driven by Michele, Nagelsdiek, Veremenko, Selivanov, and Kramer, Loesch, Naumann, Moritz, respectively. The battle for supremacy in this class intensified as the teams pushed themselves to the limit.
The #120 Toyota Corolla Altis, driven by Supaphongs, Jian Hong, Kawamura, and Vasuratna, emerged as the front runners in the SP8 class. Their consistent performance and strategic moves helped them secure the lead, with the #121 Opel Manta and the #119 Toyota Corolla Altis close on their heels.
The #182 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport (Type 982) team, consisting of Eichenberg, Grütter, and Grosse, had been dominant since the start of the race in the Cup3 class. Their unwavering focus and skillful driving propelled them to the front, showcasing their expertise and determination.
However, not all teams were fortunate enough to maintain their positions. The defending champions, the #1 Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX team, faced a major setback. Ricardo Feller came to a sudden stop, realizing he had to serve a time penalty of 4 minutes and 36 seconds. This penalty dashed their hopes of securing another victory. It was a bitter blow for Feller and the team, as the penalties were not a result of Feller’s actions but rather Frederic Vervisch’s, the only remaining driver from the previous year’s winning quartet.
The #2 Mercedes-AMG GT3, driven by Christodoulou, Götz, and Schiller, seized the opportunity and claimed the lead. Maximilian Götz showcased his exceptional driving skills, propelling the team to the front of the pack. Two BMWs, the #72 and #99, closely trailed behind, ensuring that the battle for supremacy remained intense.
In the fierce competition, the #30 Ferrari 296 GT3 demonstrated its tenacity. David Pittard, after a successful pit stop, reclaimed the lead from the #2 Mercedes-AMG GT3, and Pittard’s skillful driving and strategic maneuvers propelled the Ferrari team back to the front, leaving their rivals behind.
However, not all teams enjoyed a smooth race. The #44 Falken-Porsche 911 GT3 R (992), encountered trouble on the track. After contact with another car, the team lost valuable time, spending 3 minutes and 35 seconds in the pits, repairing the damage.
The #13 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup (991) team, driven by Albrecht, Sczepansky, Ecke, and Schlichenmeier, faced a penalty of 32 seconds for failing to adhere to the maximum speed limit in the pit lane, adding to their challenges.
Despite a crash at P180, the #73 BMW M4 GT4 (G82) team of Bovingdon, Gebhardt, Naumann, and Weidinger managed to continue, showcasing their resilience and determination to overcome obstacles.
The #7 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, driven by Jefferies, Buurman, Soufi, and Lefterov, faced challenges during practice but managed to rebuild their car, albeit in the Evo 1 version. With a fast car, they aimed to navigate through the night and assess their position, with hopes of making a comeback.
The #33 Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) team, consisting of Bachler, Müller, and Picariello, had a mixed performance so far. Problems from the start caused the car to fall behind, but they remained within one lap of the leaders. Team boss Sven Schnabl acknowledged the challenges but remained hopeful that the team could make a competitive push forward.
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