The 2010 edition of the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring will certainly be one to remember. Major players Porsche, Audi, BMW and Ferrari all shared a bit of the lead, and misfortune, around the legendary Nordschleife. In the end it was BMW coming home with a win for their return to the Green Hell, as the M3 of Muller/Farfus/Alzen/Lamy survived to cross the finish line first. The Portugese Pedro Lamy celebrates his fifth win joining record holder Marcel Tiemann, just a week after winning with Peugeot at the Spa 1000km LMS race.
The biggest surprise of the weekend was the second place finish for the Hankook-Team Farnbacher Ferrari, driven by Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen/Seefried, while one of the Audi favorites Rostek/Ludwig/Bronzel/Winkelhock managed a podium finish in third, putting three different marques on the podium. Honorable mention goes to the Porsche Hybrid, running in first for most of the race until hitting technical trouble in the 23rd hour.
Yesterday, at the 3 PM drop of the green flag, the No. 1 Manthey Porsche got a good start, going from seventh to first in only a few corners. The four-time winners would lead the race for a while, accumulating up to a four minute lead, before an eventful seventh hour. A competitor lost control, hitting the barrier and bouncing back into the path of a helpless Marc Lieb. In the same lap, the No. 100 of Ekstrom/Jarvis/Scheider/Werner had an incident at Pfanzgarten just a short time after another Audi R8 LMS, the No. 98 of Basseng/Rockenfeller/Stippler/Stuck had said goodbye to any hopes of a good finish after an engine problem.
A third of the way through the race and the Audi camp was forced to pin all its hopes on the No. 99 of Biela/Fassler/Kaffer/Hennerici and the No. 2 of Abt/Collard/Luhr/Mies. After a slow start the No. 99 began to reel in the leading Porsche Hybrid, but in the middle of the night, the R8 LMS was forced to retire with gearbox problems. Then the No. 2 took over the charge before also encountering problems, this time in the form of transmission issues, in the 20th hour.
Thereafter the Hybrid Porsche of Bergmeister/Lietz/Holzer/Ragginger had full control of the race. After being held up early by a slowly leaking tire and a little later by a minute-long penalty, the Hybrid made up the time thanks to its fuel economy allowing the drivers to run one of two more laps more than their adversaries per stint (a substantial distance considering the length of a lap at the Nurburgring).
As the team could smell victory, the 21st hour saw the car come in to fix a muffler, allowing the No. 25 BMW to get back on the same lap. And finally, in the opening minutes of the 23rd hour, it was all over, with the car costing to a stop near Adenau with an engine that just wouldn't go any further.
With the rest of the Porsches encountering their fair share of problems and Audi struggling as well, it was left to BMW to pick up the pieces of the race. Sure, the BMW squad's start could have been better. The No. 26 of Werner/Muller/Priaulx/Adorf suffered a violent accident in the first hour, killing all chances of success.
Meanwhile, the No. 25 of Muller/Farfus/Alzen/Lamy was slowly making its way to the front thanks to good pitstops and good fuel economy. The car was in the top four by halfway, then into the top three heading into the last quarter of the race. Despite small scares with the clutch and then with the last pit stop, the M3 held on and headed to victory, five years after its last win here. The No. 26 had a great race to end up finishing seventh, a minor miracle considering the amount of time lost in the first hour.
The surprise of the day has to go to the second place of the Ferrari F430. For its first participation at the 24 Hours of the Nurburgring, it certainly impressed. The team made up for their lack of top speed with perfect reliabilty, both mechanical and driver. Farnbacher/Simonsen/Keen/Seefried were flawless during the race.
While the fight for the lead was quite eventful, the battles for lower positions were just as hot. Running for a long time in fourth place before the Porsche Hybrid problem, the No. 76 Schubert Motorsport BMW Z4 finally succumbed to the lone surviving Audi of Rostek/Ludwig/Bronzel/Winkelhock. The company from Ingolstadt salvaged what it could with a good finish from the Black Falcon team as well. It's worth noting that third, fourth and fifth positions finished in the same lap.
To find the first Porsche, you have to look down to sixth place. The H&R Spezialfedern (Alzen) Porsche just beating another GT3 Cup S, that of Rowe Motorsport. The BMW Z4 of Dorr Motorsport and Porsche GT3 RS of Scuderia Offenbach complete the top ten. The Falken Nissan, a perennial entry here, finished 12th in front of the officially entered road-going Porsche GT3 RS, arriving at the Nurburgring on public roads from Weissach.
In the lower categories, the best finishing Scirocco, driven by Al-Attiyah/Ickx/Depping/Niedzwiedz came home in 16th while the first Lexus LF-A, No. 50, also scored in the top 20, as did the fastest Opel OPC.
Editor's note: Anthony Megevand is the Chief Editor at Endurance-info.com, a French website that covers sports car racing around the world.