And they're off for 24 hours around the Green Hell!
If the action-packed start of the 36th 24 Hours of the N?rburgring is a sign of things to come, then fans and teams are in for a treat. Just a few hundred metres into the start and already the race favorite and pole winning No. 1 Porsche of Marc Lieb has run into trouble. At the first corner, the Manthey Porsche began to smoke from the rear and by the end of the Grand Prix section of the N?rburgring circuit, the car was in last place and limping back to the pits. A mounting bracket in the water system had come loose, causing cooling water to escape.
Lieb's teammate, Timo Bernhard showed his disappointment with the turn of events but remained positive.
"It is such a let-down for us that something like that should happen right after the start, but we're not giving up. We have lost a lot of time, but anything can still happen."
Meanwhile, the Porsche of Alzen Motorsports of J?rgen Alzen have taken the early lead in front of the Zakspeed Viper with dutchman Tom Coronel at the controls.
While a nice battle is shaping up at the front, another favorite, the Land Motorsport Porsche, has run into trouble before the end of the first lap giving third place to the Porsche No. 24 of Manthey Racing and has eventually lost a lap to fix a flat left rear tire.
Biting at the heels of the top three, the Aston Martin DBRS9 ran ahead of the No. 5 BMW Z4 and the Nos. 23 and 31 Porsches as well as the Raeder Motorsport Lamborghini. And as Manu Collard began the challenge of snaking his Hisaq Porsche through the field after an 11th place qualifying effort, the Gumpert Apollo of Heinz-Harald Frentzen has stopped in the pits with drive-train problems on the hybrid.
"The differential came apart at D?ttinger H?he and I had no more forward drive. Luckily, I was able to limp back to the pits. You can never tell what will happen when it comes to these technical issues. There was no damage to the transmission, but we're replacing it anyway. If all goes well, we want to give it another go. It might be a while, though," the ex-F1 driver said.
A quarter hour into the event and another favorite has hit trouble. The Zakspeed Viper has gone in and out of the pits with electrical problems and have replaced the alternator as a precaution. Meanwhile the two-time defending champion No.1 Manthey Porsche has rejoined the action to complete its first full lap. Now begins the seemingly impossible task of undoing its three lap deficit and coming up through the 213 other competitors.
Before the first round of pitstops, the Alzen Motorsports Porsche still leads but has let the No. 24 Manthey Porsche come back to within five seconds.
Also of note, the Aston Martin DBRS9, third before the first pitstop, had a long stop and has fallen down the order, as well as the Lamborghini, with Hermann Tilke taking over for Dirk Adorf.
Finally, although some of the principal favorites have had trouble, it's still Porsches who have begun to impose a good rhythm, including the leading Alzen Motorsports Porsche, the Nos. 23 and 24 Manthey Porsches, the No. 31 Paragon Porsche and the Hisaq Porsche, now up to 5th place.
The Volkswagen Sciroccos are dominating their class with the No. 118 leading the No. 117.