Despite a flash fire during a pitstop this morning, there was no stopping the #28 WRT Audi R8 LMS from winning the Nurburgring 24 Hours, ahead of the #25 Marc VDS BMW Z4 that chased it right to the finish.
Audi’s #28 machine – crewed by Christopher Mies, Edward Sandstrom, Nico Muller and Laurens Vanthoor – took control of the race after others fell by the wayside during the night.
Despite a big grassy spin by Muller at the Veedol chicane with five hours to go, which lost 10s, and then a brief pit fire an hour later, the WRT machine stayed out of the reach of the #25 Marc VDS BMW Z4 in the closing hours of the event.
The gap between them and the BMW of Maxime Martin, Lucas Luhr, Markus Palttala and Richard Westbrook was as close as 42s with 1h45m to go. It extended to 54s by the time of the final pitstops with just over an hour remaining.
The gap then went out to over a minute, and although this was closed down in the final hour as Martin pushed right until the end, there were no big late dramas. Martin finished just 40.729s behind Mies in the winning Audi.
The Falken-tyred Porsche 997 of Peter Dumbreck, Wolf Henzler, Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori produced its best-ever Nurburgring 24 Hours performance to take the final spot on the podium. They completed 155 laps, one less than the two ahead.
The fourth placed #26 Marc VDS BMW Z4, driven by Augusto Farfus, Jorg Muller, Nicky Catsburg and Dirk Adorf, also suffered a flash fire during a refuelling stop, during which a mechanic suffered superficial burns. It finished just 53s after the Falken Porsche.
In fifth place was the #5 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS, which didn’t quite have the all-pro driver line-up of those ahead to keep up.
Leading cars crash out
As ever, there were plenty of hard luck stories and 'what ifs' for many competitors, including three cars which crashed out having led the race.
The first was the #20 Schubert BMW Z4, which led the opening 50 minutes of the race. Claudia Hurtgen was at the wheel when she crashed at Pflanzgarten 2 during the first heavy rain shower on Saturday afternoon, severely damaging the right-front corner and forcing its retirement after 30 laps.
Its sister car, the #19, was also running strongly when it crashed on the Dottinger Hohe and was forced out just after darkness had descended.
The #30 Frikadelli Porsche of Sabine Schmitz, Patrick Huisman, Patrick Pilet and Jorg Bergmeister then established itself in the lead, until Pilet hit the #31 Mercedes and crashed out at the Karussel in heavy rain.
The next big casualty was the #1 Phoenix Audi – crewed by Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock. It crashed out of the lead in Mamerow’s hands just after Pflanzgarten.
The front-running #2 Black Falcon Mercedes suffered a driveline issue that caused it to shed its left-rear wheel, and despite Adam Christodoulou’s best efforts to fix it trackside, it was forced out after just four hours.
|Audi R8 LMS||156|
|BMW Z4 GT3||156|
|Porsche 997 GT3 R||155|
|BMW Z4 GT3||155|
|5||5||Abdulaziz Al Faisal
Jaap van Lagen
|Mercedes SLS AMG GT3||155|
|6||17||Felipe Fernandez Laser
John Michael Edwards
|BMW Z4 GT3||153|
|Audi R8 LMS||153|
|Bentley Continental GT3||151|
|Nissan GT-R GT3||151|
|Mercedes SLS AMG GT3||151