Disappointment at the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife Returning to the Nordschleife after a resounding win last month when Marino and Frank Stippler shared the wheel of the HISAQ Competition Porsche 997 GT3 RSR taking it from pole to a win in the...
Disappointment at the 24 Hours on the Nordschleife
Returning to the Nordschleife after a resounding win last month when Marino and Frank Stippler shared the wheel of the HISAQ Competition Porsche 997 GT3 RSR taking it from pole to a win in the VLN race, it could not have been a more demoralising start here on Friday for the team. Marino and Frank were joined in the #22 HISAQ car by their co-drivers, Richard Westbrook and Emmanuel Collard for the 24 hour race, but on the out lap of the first practice session on Friday morning, Frank was forced to immediately return to the pits after an oil leak resulted in flames raging around the left rear corner of the car. The #22 car was despatched to Manthey Racing where major repairs were carried out on the extensive damage that had been caused by the fire.
Repairs to the HISAQ car were completed just as the evening practice session commenced. The four drivers all attempted to get some time behind the wheel of the #22 Porsche in what remained of the Friday evening practice session, but Marino could only manage one lap. A small animal ran across the track right in front of the car and, unable to avoid it, he returned to the pit immediately for risk of any possible damage. Despite minimal track time prior to the 24 hours commencing, Richard's time of 8:52.228 around the 24.433kms lap placed them 11th on the 230 car start grid.
The race was also to get off to a traumatic start, this time for the favourite #1 car of Manthey Racing which crossed the start line in a cloud of water vapour and was forced to return to the pits. The #22 HISAQ car having put its practice problems behind it, pressed hard. By the third hour they were leading the race, and despite heavy rain which began falling just after nightfall, they held station for the next 7 hours building a gap of over 3 minutes. Sadly their success was not to last, around 2.00am the gearbox failed on the #22 car which took the team just under 1hr 30mins to replace. This was enough to put the HISAQ car 9 laps down on the leader, and whilst maintaining the pace of the Manthey #1 car that had taken the lead just after HISAQ relinquished it, Marino and his co-drivers were not able to close the gap. Then as mid-morning approached Richard Westbrook hit a patch of oil the aftermath of which resulted in suspension damage. Although Richard managed to get the car
back to the pits, but it was deemed beyond repair and the team were forced to retire having completed 109 laps of the Nordschleife. The Manthey Racing #1 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR went on to win the race with drivers Timo Bernhard, Romain Dumas, Marc Lieb and Marcel Tiemann.
Despite the outcome, Marino remained very positive after the race, "It was great to lead the 24 Hours for such a long period of time, it's just a shame it was not the end of the race!" The HISAQ car was certainly capable of a podium, and it's just unfortunate that we were not able to achieve that. All my team mates drove extremely well and our pace was very strong throughout, so I guess we just have to come back next year and try again".