Endurance racing is won with not just the fastest car, but with clever strategy, reliability, consistent lap times and luck. This year’s long-distant race around the 24 hour track configuration of the infamous Nürburgring Nordschleife (northern loop) which combines both the northern loop and the Grand Prix circuit, has seen one of the most intense final hour battle which brought fans to the edges of their seats.
The race started on Saturday at 3.00pm with a bright sunshine which thousands of race fans saw over 200 cars consisting of different classes ranging from near standard production track cars, to highly specialised and sophisticated GT3 cars racing together for 24 hours.
Veterans Manthey-Racing team fielded two Porsche 911 GT3 R bearing the numbers 911 and 912, where the latter piloted by Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet, Frédéric Makowiecki and Nick Tandy. The race had nothing short of incidents and contacts, yet the No.912 car survived into the night catching up with the front runners in second place.
Things didn’t improved either for the Manthey-Racing team as the No.911 forced into retirement as Romain Dumas crashed out before the mid-point of the race. On top of that, the No.911 car was given a 3:32:00 minute time penalty for disregarding a slow “code 60” zone on track. Code 60 is enforced to slow drivers down to 60 Km/h in a given sector whenever there is a major accident on track, much like a having virtual safety car to set the pace, but localised.
The 24 hour race was stopped temporarily at the final three hours due to heavy fog with the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Team Black Falcon driven by Maro Engel at the helm with Frédéric Makowiecki trailing in second.
After the race restart, the No.4 Black Falcon AMG car driven by Adam Christodoulou had lost the lead after an intense battle between the No.912 which the No.4 lost control due to a slight contact with the No.912 after the second half of the Yokohama S, while the sister No.5 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 came in third, jumping ahead of the Aston Martin Racing No. 007 in the last hour.
On the same lap, the No.4 Black Falcon car managed to keep up and had the chance to slug it out with the No.912 again, but unfortunately washed out at Galgenkopf into the barriers due to the extremely cold and wet track condition. This almost became a race-ending incident for Adam Christodoulou, but he managed to recover AMG GT3 unscathed.
The race concludes with the No.912 crossing the line first after 135 laps. Porsches took the first three starting positions last weekend by setting a new lap record of 8:09:105 with the No.911 Porsche 911 GT3 R, and the race win is the first for Manthey-Racing since 2011.