By: Mikko Jalonen, Sportscar Correspondent
- Manthey Racing win Nurburgring 24H
- Porsche beats BMW and Audi
- Lieb, Luhr, Bernard & Dumas the victors
Manthey Racing wins the race for Porsche while last year winner, BMW Motorsport takes 2nd
Manthey Racing with drivers Marc Lieb, Lucas Luhr, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas won the 39th Edition of the ADAC Zurich 24h-Rennen at the historic Nürburgring in Germany on Sunday, June 26th.
Dr. Wolfgang Porsche, Chairman of the Supervisory Board at Porsche AG: “I’m overwhelmed. Such a success is only possible as a team. I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this. Today, I’m especially proud because we are small but great and successful.”
Manthey Racing’s number 18 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR started the race from eighth on the grid after a disappointing qualifying, but from the start of the 24 hour event on Saturday, the team drivers were able to set a good rhythm throughout the race even with the challenging conditions; especially at the start of the race when the track was slightly wet.
"We already knew before the start that we could only win if we worked together as a team, from the drivers through to the mechanics. And this worked very well for the entire time,” said Bernhard who scored a record tying 5th win.
Lieb added, “Winning this year is one of the most emotional moments of my career. We really didn’t expect to conquer here. After the difficult practices, we pulled ourselves together and said, ‘Let’s give our all’. We didn’t make any mistakes and the entire team put in a superb effort. It’s simply fantastic.”
The team took the lead of the race at the eight hour mark and sixteen hours later celebrated the race win setting up the new distance record of 156 laps. The victory was fifth in six years for Manthey Racing and Porsche Motorsport.
“Our plan was to go all out during the night to get ahead. That worked. We simply had to keep the pressure on from the first to the last moment, because the competition was fierce," said Luhr. His team mate Dumas commented: "My fourth win at this race was the hardest. The competition this year was tougher than ever before. We all had to give one hundred percent. Now it’s time to celebrate.“
Second place of the race belonged to the defending race winner, BMW Motorsport. The #1 squad of Jörg Müller, Augusto Farfus, Uwe Alzen and Pedro Lamy lost the race to their German rivals by just by just over 4 minutes on the very demanding Nürburgring 24 hours track layout which combines the challenges of the GP Circuit and the extremely famous Nürburgring Nordschleife.
“This was once again a dramatic 24-hour race here at the Nürburgring-Nordschleife. Congratulations to the squad of Olaf Manthey," said BMW Motorsport Director Mario Theissen. "For me personally, this was the last race as BMW Motorsport Director. I am happy to say goodbye with such a success for our team.“
BMW driver Augusto Farfus said, “The Nordschleife just is the greatest track in the world. I dreamt about racing here when I was a kid. BMW has given me the opportunity to do this. Now I’m here on the podium for the second time after our victory last year."
Audi took home third, fourth and fifth places in the event that is also their home turf. Audi Sport has yet to win 24 hours of Nürburgring, despite winning multiple endurance competitions and competitions all around the world; especially at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Over the past couple of years, Audi has become very close to scoring their maiden victory in the Nürburgring 24 hours race; mainly due to the speed they but they have been lacking consistency.
Marc Basseng, Marcel Fässler and Frank Stippler ended on the final step of the podium and Basseng said, "In the morning we then had a car with which we could really attack. All three of us drove excellent double stints. This was one of the reasons why we were able to move forward little by little and ultimately took third place at the end."
This year all Audis were extremely consistent but the speed just wasn´t there nor was lady luck. Especially in the early parts of the race, the Audi drivers were slightly unhappy with the straight line speed of the Audi R8 LMS compared to their rivals: BMW, Porsche and Mercedes-Benz since most of the time at the long straight of the Nordschleife circuit just before returning onto GP circuit section and on the main straight, the Audi drivers were seen losing places.
"Qualifying had already signaled that our R8 LMS with the current balance of performance is not the fastest car," explained Head of Audi Motorsport Dr. Wolfgang Ullrich. "This was confirmed in the race. Furthermore, none of our four factory cars made it through the race completely without incidents."
For other notable entries, the pole winning team with Dominik Farnbacher at the wheel of the Number 2 Ferrari 458 Italia for the Hankook Team Farnbacher team lost 45 minutes in the pits. If not for that, Farnbacher, Allan Simonsen, Seefried Marco and Jaime Melo might have finished on the podium instead of eighth.
For Mercedes the race was slightly disappointing as well. In the end one of the Mercedes SLS GT3s actually came out on top due to the VLN Racing Series internal contest at the 24 hour event. Due to good results achieved lately at the ADAC GT Masters and VLN, the Mercedes SLS teams were even among the main candidates to win the race. The first few hours were perfect when Black Falcon, Heico Motorsport and Mamerow Racing were fighting for the lead and the teams of Mercedes were even 1-2 in the first 40 minutes of the race. As always through speed, consistency and staying out of trouble is a key for success in endurance racing and this time, Mercedes teams were lacking of some of those features. In the end the best Mercedes finishing in 6th was the Black Falcon team (Kenneth Hayer, Thomas Jäger, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Jan Seyffarth).
Now it’s time to celebrate.
In other classes, the competition was tough also, most notable was the SP3T and AT. The SP3T class was won by Subaru Techina International which finished 21st overall driven by Toshihiro Yoshida, Kota Sasaki, Marcel Engels and Carlo Van Dam and the AT class was dominated by Volkswagen Motorsport. The best Scirocco GT24-CNG finished 26th overall. The winning Scirocco was driven by drivers mostly seen at Rally-Raid/Rally racing including Carlos Sainz, Nasser Al-Attiyah, Giniel de Villiers and Klaus Niedzwiedz . For Volkswagen Motorsport AT class was highly successful as they finished 1-2 but one of the fans favourites, the two Golf 24 cars entered in the race as homage due to 35 years of Golf GTI, were forced to retire during the early hours of the race.
After the historic Nürburgring 24 hours race, most of the teams will to continue to campaign in #2 Ferrari 458 Italia the ADAC GT Masters series and VLN racing series. Where ADAC GT Masters is focused on GT cars, VLN racing series continues to run longer races and in all kind of categories at their events.