- Porsche wins Nurburgring 24H
- Lieb, Bernhard, Dumas, Luhr take victory
- Manthey Racing on top of podium
Brilliant Porsche triumph on the Nordschleife
It was one of the most exciting and dramatic 24 hour races ever at the Nürburgring. And it finished with a triumph for Porsche. In front of 220,000 spectators lining the legendary Nordschleife, Porsche works drivers Marc Lieb (Germany), Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) as well as Lucas Luhr (Switzerland) won the 39th running of the long distance classic in the Eifel with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and relegated their strong opponents from BMW, Mercedes and Audi to finish down in the field.
Congratulations to the crew from Manthey Racing and our staff from Weissach.
For Porsche and the Porsche Team Manthey, this marked the fifth victory at the traditional race in the last six years – likewise for Timo Bernhard.
With the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - the world’s most successful GT race car since it was introduced - the Porsche quartet snatched the lead on Saturday night at 11:25 pm and held on to it to the checkered flag. What followed were 16 hours and 35 minutes at the head of the field - 108 consistently fast and faultless laps under immense pressure on one of the toughest race tracks on earth; this speaks volumes about the reliability of the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and for the skill of the pilots. The new distance record set with a total of 156 laps and 3,958.968 kilometres (2,454.56 miles) underlines the superb effort of the winners and their team.
“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,” Timo Bernhard said. Indeed, aside from the usual tensions on the track, there was just one truly critical situation – strangely enough in the pits.
Lucas Luhr: “During a pit stop the gas pump didn’t work. Fuel simply didn’t come out. So we had to push our car back to another pump and in doing so lost almost a minute.”
The Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid also gave an impressive performance, even though its second start at the 24 hour classic did not yield the anticipated top result. Fielded by Porsche Team Manthey with Porsche works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), Richard Lietz (Austria), Marco Holzer (Germany) and Patrick Long (USA), the innovative race car with its ground-breaking drive concept finished an impressive 28th after a breathtaking chase through the field, 17 laps behind the winner.
Showing its true potential, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid moved into the lead on Saturday about four hours after the start. But a broken flange in the differential sent it into the pits for repairs, which cost six laps to the leader. But the trouble wasn’t to stop there: After a good seven hours, the same problem struck again necessitating a second unplanned pit stop. This time repairs took 40 minutes. With a ten-lap gap to the front-runners, the 911 GT3 R Hybrid rejoined the race in position 105. Clocking lap times which were sometimes faster than those at the front, it ploughed through the field to rank 23rd. However, on Sunday morning the vehicle’s charge was interrupted yet again: While lapping a slower competitor, Patrick Long was nudged and spun at high speed in the Flugplatz passage. In the pits, however, no damages to the vehicle were found.
Manned by Porsche factory pilot Wolf Henzler (Germany) as well as Peter Dumbreck (Great Britain), Martin Ragginger (Austria) and Sebastian Asch (Germany), the Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by Falken Motorsports took up the race on intermediate tires. This proved to be a good decision. Wolf Henzler made up several places before pitting after two laps once the rain had stopped to change to slicks. An engine change in the first quarter of the race robbed the team of all chances for a better result. At the flag, the Falken quartet occupied 49th. The swift lap times that the 911 GT3 R yielded after the long repair phase were, in this case, a poor consolation.
“It was somewhat frustrating to drive such great times and yet be so far down the field,” said Wolf Henzler. “Still, considering these times, the mood in the team is good. It gives us a lot of motivation. Despite everything, we’re taking home a wealth of experience from the Nürburgring.”
After a trouble-free early phase under difficult conditions, the Porsche 911 GT3 R, which Manthey Racing ran parallel to the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, was taken out of the race after a good two hours. The team wanted to concentrate on just one car. A perfect strategy that was rewarded with victory. And as Timo Bernhard crossed the finish line with the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, the Eifel at last showed its true sunny colors.
Quotes after the race
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.”
Matthias Müller, CEO of the Executive Board at Porsche AG: “This is the first time I’ve been to a 24 hour race for Porsche and I certainly hadn’t anticipated it being so emotional. It was a very great weekend for the Porsche enterprise. All the employees at the track have proven what Porsche Intelligent Performance really stands for. Thank you to all the drivers – not only to the winning troupe, but particularly to the squad in the Hybrid-Porsche. All those drivers put in an excellent effort, as well. And thanks to all those people who worked behind the scenes.”
Wolfgang Hatz, Board Member for Research and Development at Porsche AG: “I’m proud to be part of such a troupe. What we saw this weekend was an immense team effort. The winning squad virtually just refuelled and changed tyres. I promise that we will continue keeping the revs high in motorsport. There are wonderful things ahead of us. I’m looking forward to the future.”
Hartmut Kristen, Head of Porsche Motorsport: “Congratulations to the crew from Manthey Racing and our staff from Weissach. They did a brilliant job and contributed greatly to our success. I’m very pleased that, after all the wrangling in the run-up, there was a clean, sporting decision on the track. Also decisive for our win was that the 911 GT3 RSR was one hundred percent reliable and we had to put in one fuel stop less than the competition. You would expect this from a Porsche. Of course, our drivers also deserve a huge compliment. Once again, they all conducted themselves faultlessly. That also applies to the quartet in the 911 GT3 R Hybrid that wasn’t able to bring home the success it deserved because of two mechanical problems and an accident. As far as pure power is concerned and with its efficiency, the car has performed as we had expected with its innovative drive concept. It’s a great shame that the results don’t reflect this.”
Marc Lieb (No. 18, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing): “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.”
Timo Bernhard (No. 18, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing): “The fifth victory at this race is something very special, especially because this year was particularly difficult. We had no other choice than to attack from the first moment. At the end of the day, everything went perfectly. My special thanks goes to our team boss Olaf Manthey. He lives for this race like no other and puts his whole heart into it year after year.”
Romain Dumas (No. 18, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing): “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. We took up the race from 18th on the grid and made the most out of it. I got a fright at one point during the night when a BMW and I touched. I was really afraid that the car was damaged, because right at that point I had no radio contact and I couldn’t ask if I should come in to the pits. So I listened to the car and noticed that everything was okay. Now it’s time to celebrate.”
Lucas Luhr (No. 18, Porsche 911 GT3 RSR, Manthey Racing): “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. During one of my stints there was a slight shunt on the front left, but we taped it up and kept driving. I feel we deserved this win.”
Joerg Bergmeister (No. 9, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey): “It was certainly one of the most difficult races of my career. The power performance and above all the efficiency of the car were great, even better than last year. It’s also so much fun to drive thanks to the Hybrid-boost. I hope we can continue working like this. And one day luck will be on our side.”
Richard Lietz (No. 9, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey): “The performance of our car was super, all the drivers did a great job and our mechanics put in a mammoth effort. It’s a shame that these efforts weren’t rewarded. But I’m very pleased that our squad decided to pull out all stops and get to the finish line. We owed this to our mechanics and the Porsche fans on the ‘Ring.”
Marco Holzer (No. 9, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey): “I reckon I was driving one of the best cars in the entire field. We always clocked good lap times. We lost the chance to win through the mechanical problems and an accident. The effort our mechanics made is something I’ve never seen before. And that’s why our goal was to never give up as long as the wheels kept turning. In this regard it’s a small consolation that we crossed the finish line after 24 hours and that we showed the Porsche fans at the track that we never give up.”
Patrick Long (No. 9, Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, Porsche Team Manthey): “After the flange broke we were out of the top 100 contenders but worked our way up to 28th. For me, not giving up fits in with the Porsche philosophy. I wholeheartedly congratulate our colleagues in the 911 GT3 RSR. Reliability and faultless driving was the key.”