Nurburgring 24h: Manthey Porsche wins shortest-ever edition

The Manthey Porsche squad scored its seventh Nurburgring 24 Hours in what was the shortest-ever running of the famed German event.

Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Matteo Cairoli took the 'Grello' #911 Porsche 911 GT3 R to victory by a little under nine seconds over the #98 ROWE Racing BMW machine shared by Sheldon van der Linde, Connor de Phillippi, Marco Wittmann and Martin Tomczyk.

With just 59 laps completed, the race, which was suspended for more than 14 hours due to fog, was the shortest in the event's history, surpassing the previous record set in 1992.

It marks Porsche's 13th win in the race as a manufacturer, and a first for Estre, Christensen and Cairoli. Lars Kern was also registered as a fourth driver in the #911 car, but was withdrawn during the race.

How the final hours unfolded

The long red flag period overnight meant the race was effectively reduced to a three-and-a-half hour sprint, with the #1 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 of Phillipp Eng leading the field back to green in what were still tricky conditions at 11.40am local time.

Maro Engel closely shadowed Eng at the wheel of the #4 HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 during the early laps until he suffered a major crash at Tiergarten while trying to negotiate backmarkers, which granted Eng a comfortable lead at the head of the field.

However, a new regulation dictating minimum pitstop times according to stint length meant the #1 ROWE BMW dropped down the order when it came in for its first post-restart service, as it had made its previous stop shortly before the red flag, almost doubling its pitstop time.

This was a moot point in the end however, as the pole-sitting car later suffered an electronics glitch and Eng was forced to pull into the pits to retire.

The Manthey Porsche of Christensen therefore took over the lead from the surviving #98 ROWE BMW of van der Linde, which made its second post-restart stop two laps earlier than the Porsche, putting the two cars on slightly diverging strategies for the remainder of the race.

Van der Linde cycled into the lead after Christensen handed over to Estre for the run to the flag, and was 28 seconds to the good when he made the car's final stop with a little under 50 minutes to go.

But a shorter final stop for Estre two laps later allowed the Frenchman to rejoin with 15 seconds in hand over the BMW, giving the 'Grello' Porsche a clear run to the flag.

The final podium spot went to the #7 GetSpeed Mercedes-AMG GT3 shared by Raffaele Marciello, Maximilian Gotz and Daniel Juncadella, after Marciello passed the #44 Falken Motorsports Porsche of Sven Muller on the penultimate lap of the race.

Marciello courted controversy earlier in the early laps after the restart when he punted the #11 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Michele Beretta during a battle for position.

Audi lost another of its front-running cars when Kelvin van der Linde crashed the #29 Land Motorsport car with a little over an hour and a half to go, in an incident that also removed the #3 Rutronik Racing Porsche from contention.

That meant that the best of the Audis at the finish was the #2 Car Collection Motorsport car in fifth, with Nico Muller narrowly missing out on passing the #44 Porsche on the final lap.

Just behind, the #20 Schubert Motorsport BMW of Jesse Krohn completed the top six ahead of the #8 GetSpeed Mercedes of Jules Gounon. The Pro-Am #23 Huber Motorsport Porsche and Falken's second Porsche, the #33 car, were the remaining lead lap finishers.

Two top-10 runners were eliminated in the final hour when Augusto Farfus suddenly slowed at the wheel of the #77 BMW Junior Team M6 GT3, which resulted in Patrick Pilet's #31 Frikadelli Motorsport Porsche piling into the back of the Brazilian at speed.

Race results (Top 10):

Pos. No. Drivers Team/Car Time/Gap
1 911

Italy Matteo Cairoli

Denmark Michael Christensen

France Kevin Estre

Manthey Racing

Porsche 911 GT3 R

59 laps
2 98

United States Connor de Phillippi

Germany Martin Tomczyk

South Africa Sheldon van der Linde

Germany Marco Wittmann

ROWE Racing

BMW M6 GT3

+8.817s
3 7

Germany Maximilian Gotz

Spain Daniel Juncadella

Italy Raffaele Marciello

Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed

Mercedes-AMG GT3

+49.608s
4 44

Austria Klaus Bachler

Austria Martin Ragginger

Germany Sven Muller

Belgium Alessio Picariello

Falken Motorsports

Porsche 911 GT3 R

+53.100s
5 2

Germany Christopher Haase

Switzerland Nico Muller

Germany Markus Winkelhock

Audi Sport Team Car Collection

Audi R8 LMS

+53.266s
6 20

Finland Jesse Krohn

Germany Jens Klingmann

United Kingdom Alexander Sims

Netherlands Stef Dusseldorp

Schubert Motorsport

BMW M6 GT3

+54.301s
7 8

France Jules Gounon

Germany Fabian Schiller

France Matthieu Vaxiviere

Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed

Mercedes-AMG GT3

+55.223s
8 11

Germany Marco Seefried

Germany Christian Menzel

Germany Stefan Aust

Germany Philipp Neuffer

Huber Motorsport 

Porsche 911 GT3 R

+2m54.805s
9 33

Austria Klaus Bachler

Germany Dirk Werner

Austria Thomas Preining

Germany Lance-David Arnold

Falken Motorsports

Porsche 911 GT3 R

+3m13.741s
10 40

Germany Kenneth Heyer

Germany Thomas Jager

Netherlands Yelmer Buurmann

Austria Dominik Baumann

10Q Racing Team

Mercedes-AMG GT3

+1 Lap
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