If Tom Kristensen is Mr Le Mans, then certainly Marcel Tiemann must be Mr Nurburgring. The German sportscar racing veteran took his fifth overall victory in the ADAC 24H race at the famed Nordschleife, and the fifth in a row for the Manthey...
If Tom Kristensen is Mr Le Mans, then certainly Marcel Tiemann must be Mr Nurburgring. The German sportscar racing veteran took his fifth overall victory in the ADAC 24H race at the famed Nordschleife, and the fifth in a row for the Manthey Porsche team.
"That's just fantastic," the happy Tiemann exclaimed after the race. "My fifth win! I just can't believe it. It means even more to me than my maiden Nurburgring 24h Race triumph. And it's another cornerstone for me to have made it to the top position in the 24h-race record book."
The victory was far from easy, though, for Tiemann and his teammates, works Porsche drivers Marc Lieb, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas: driving a detuned version of a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (normally seen in Le Mans racing), the foursome fought hard with the works Audi R8 LMS entries, until the the last of the Ingolstadt entries hit trouble in the late morning hours.
"I reckon that this one was the toughest of all my five wins because beating the works Audis is something different indeed," Tiemann reflected on the race. "The Audis kept the pace at a very high level. At the end, we did lap times like we did last year, in spite of the changed regulations."
Of the five works-supported Audi R8 entries, it was the #97, driven by Christian Abt, Jean-Francois Hemroulle, Pierre Kaffer and Lucas Luhr that came the closest, finishing second, one lap adrift of the winning Manthey Porsche. The team was not the fastest of the Audis, but it ran a faultless race, encountering neither on-track incidents or mechanical problems, to take a second place in the endurance racing debut of the R8 LMS.
"None of us really expected us to immediately clinch a podium result here," said Luhr after the finish of the race. "Putting a new car on the podium in its first run at a 24-hour race is an achievement you've simply got to take your hat off to."
The #99 Audi, driven by Marc Basseng, Mike Rockenfeller and Frank Stippler, had been the main threat to the Porsche hegemony throughout much of the race, but it was somewhat less lucky. Having led the race for nearly 17 of 19 hours, it experienced a drivetrain problem early in the morning.
Rockenfeller managed to get the car to Pflanzgarten, where the mechanics were able to replace a wheel bearing and a driveshaft. In the end, the #99 still managed to finish in fifth place, six laps behind the winners.
"For the Audi R8 LMS, this race was a final test under extreme conditions on the world's longest race track," explained Wolfgang Ullrich, the head of Audi Motorsport. "We were able to show that our new GT3 sports car is absolutely competitive for customer sport. And the number 97 Audi R8 LMS ran without the slightest problems despite the incredibly high speed. We're going to analyze the problems that occurred on the other three vehicles and feed the findings into the final version of the R8 LMS to be delivered to customers starting this fall."
However, with the delays of the #99 Audi, Porsches took third and fourth. The second Manthey entry, a 911 GT3 Cup S driven by # 2 Emmanuel Collard, Wolf Henzler, Richard Lietz and Dirk Werner, also suffered a broken driveshaft, but lost less time to the repairs. In spite of Hentzler being new to the Nordschleife, the foursome was able to keep up a strong, steady pace, only losing three laps to the team's sister car.
"For me, this race was something very special as this was my first 24-hour race here and I could gain a lot of experience," Hentzler recounted. "Incredible, so many fans around the Nordschleife. Especially the atmosphere during the night was great. Indeed, there was smoke over the track sometimes, for instance at Fuchsrohre. That was a great experience."
Taking fourth place was the 997 GT3 Cup of Uwe Alzen, Sascha Bert, David Arnold Lance David and Christopher Mies. The team held off the challenge of the Mamerow Porsche team, and slipped by the #99 Audi during the latter's driveshaft repairs. With 150 laps of the Nordschleife completed, Alzen's team was five laps behind the winners, and one lap ahead of the second Audi.
Notably behind the overall winners, Volkswagen took class victories with its works Sciroccos in the two-litre turbocharged and alternative powertrain categories, finishing 15th and 17th overall with the 2.0T and compressed natural gas-powered cars, following up to its 2.0T class victory in its Nurburgring debut last year.