• 2018 ADAC 24 Hours of Nurburgring - Race Report

Porsche scores dramatic win against Mercedes-AMG

Looking down the packed start/finish stretch of the Nurburgring GP Track on Saturday afternoon, the sunbathing each and every one of the thousands present, you wouldn’t have thought that a deluge was just around the corner. But unpredictability is the name of the game up in the Eiffel Mountains for the 24 Hours of Nurburgring, and it was the same this time around.

Every year since 1970, thousands upon thousands of racing fans line the mythical Northern Loop of the Nurburgring race track in Germany to attend one of the most grueling 24-hour-long races of them all. It involves the longest permanent road course in the world, the largest array of machinery, and the largest grid plus the always-enthralling weather that’s got enough curveballs for the race weekend to fill an entire F1 season.

Continue reading for the full story.

The Qualifying

2018 ADAC 24 Hours of Nurburgring - Race Report
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This year, German manufacturers were back to fend off “invaders” from Aston-Martin, Renault, Ferrari, and Lamborghini

This year, German manufacturers were back, albeit with a reduced car count compared to past editions, to fend off “invaders” from Aston-Martin, Renault, Ferrari, Lamboghini, and SCG. The four-fanged German defense was made up of BMW with the Spa-winning M6 GT3, Mercedes-Benz with the AMG GT3 which won here in 2016, Audi which were winners last year, and Porsche whose last win came in 2011, one year after BMW’s most recent ‘Ring victory. All of them were looking to score the overall win against the rivals they also fight in the streets in sales figures.

BMW scored first blood last month when ROWE Racing won the six-hour-long Qualifying race which awarded the top runners (which are usually GT3-style cars running in SP9, SP9-LG and SPX) a place in the Top 30 Shootout the Friday before the race proper. You see, with so many cars, the organizers devised two qualifying sessions for everyone to take part in as well as a final, super pole-esque, session for the 30 fastest cars. Teams can get their machinery in the Top 30 Shootout either by getting a Top 5 result in the Qualiying, by getting a podium in the first two VLN rounds or by being among the fastest in the first two qualifying sessions before the race.

2018 ADAC 24 Hours of Nurburgring - Race Report
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BMW scored first blood last month when ROWE Racing won the six-hour-long Qualifying race which awarded the top runners a place in the Top 30 Shootout

The past few editions were plagued by speed limits on the Dottinger Hohe, the longest straight piece of road on the Nordschleife, and other fast parts of the track which saw the times fall way short of the 2012 record which broke into the 8:10 bracket. This year was the first with no restrictions so those in the know thought that delving into the 8:09s was likely with the way GT3 cars have evolved in six-years-time. Indeed, come the Top 30 Shootout, Falken Racing’s Sven Muller was the first to dip below the 8:10 benchmark with a blistering 8:09.522 in his first and last fast lap as his battery was dying.

Laurens Vanthoor was second quickest aboard the No. 911 Manthey Racing-entered 991 GT3R, but he had another go, as did Nicki Thiim who managed an 8:10.020 on his first flyer aboard the No. 007 works Vantage GT3. While the Dane could not improve due to traffic, Belgian Vanthoor somehow pulled out of the hat an 8:09.105 which secured the Grello Porsche pole. Norbert Siedler was third with one of the Frikadelli Porsches making it a 1-2-3 overall for the Stuttgart-based manufacturer. Mercedes-Benz’s Maro Engel was fourth in the No. 4 factory-backed Black Falcon car as Thiim ended up fifth on the old V12 Vantage’s last hurrah at the Nordschleife as a manufacturer-backed entry.

2018 ADAC 24 Hours of Nurburgring - Race Report
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Last year’s winner Audi was in trouble, its fastest car setting only the 15th fastest lap time

Last year’s winner Audi was in trouble, its fastest car setting only the 15th fastest lap time while Jim Glickenhaus’ sole SCG-003B was at the bottom of the top 30, a dismal performance considering the purpose-built car took pole last year. BMW also performed rather poorly which encouraged the two “unlucky” German manufacturers to ask for a more satisfactory BoP before the race. Both got something in return of their plea, Audi getting away with a 10-kilos weight reduction while BMW received a little more turbo boost. With qualifying results set in stone and the Pole Position Trophy awarded by Glickenhaus to Laurens Vanthoor, it was time to go racing. The 150-strong pack got underway in three separate groups, and Kevin Estre led aboard the No. 911 right off the bat.

The Race

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Frenchman Estre drove away unabated, but it was BMW who led at the top of the first hour as Manthey made their first stop early

Frenchman Estre drove away unabated, but it was BMW who led at the top of the first hour as Manthey made their first stop early. John Edwards led until he pitted himself, fellow American Connor de Philippi navigating the course aboard the sister ROWE car until he navigated no more. His M6 stopped before the end of the second hour, and it took over half an hour for it to be towed back to the team’s pit garage. With the other BMW also having some issues and incurring a hefty 92-seconds-long penalty for disobeying the speed limit under Code 60, the highest BMW after 24 hours of racing was Walkenhorst Motorsport’s No. 102 M6 which finished 12th overall.

If you aren’t familiar with the Dubai 24 Hours and other Creventic-run races, you might not know what the Code 60 neutralization is and why it’s also in use at the Nurburgring. First off, due to the track’s length, it was decided that safety cars will not be used because it would be a logistical nightmare, as we’ve seen at Le Mans and Spa-Francorchamps where it’s hard to cope with two or three queues of cars during a safety car period.

As such, the organizers devised three levels of caution in case an unfortunate event happens: the first level is that of simple yellow flags waved at certain marshal’s posts where there’s been an incident; then there are double-waved yellow flags which also impose an upper limit of 120 km/h (74 mph) in the areas of the track where they are waved and, finally, there’s Code 60 neutralization where you must slow down to no more than 60 km/h (37 mph). If you go above the speed limit by 20 to 40 km/h, you receive a 92-seconds-long penalty which is what a number of the front runners had to face during the race.

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With BMW out of the way, it was up to the dominating Porsche as well as Mercedes and Audi to defend Germany’s honor

So, with BMW out of the way, it was up to the dominating Porsche as well as Mercedes and Audi to defend Germany’s honor in its biggest endurance race. Dries Vanthoor was fast aboard the No. 1 but the W Racing Team car was out before the sunset as Vanthoor threaded the needle and went between two slower cars, slightly touching the one to his right with his right-rear tire which caused a slow puncture. The tire finally dropped as Vanthoor’s car started slowing down for the final sequence of turns and the car spun in the guardrail and into retirement. This left only the No. 8 Audi to fight at the sharp end alongside a few Mercedes and the two Manthey sister cars, the No. 912 bouncing back after an early puncture.

As the race moved into the night, weather people announced that the downpour (which was poised to include hail) which was to arrive at around 11AM local time, would be above the Nordschleife much earlier. The prediction proved correct and, at around 2:30AM, it started raining quite effectively on the GP circuit and, also, in some sections of the Nordschleife. Some cars crashed, other pitted in a hurry for cut slicks or full-blown wet weather tires but none of the leaders were caught on the wrong foot.

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While still in the darkness of night, news came that the No. 911 Porsche went too fast in a slow zone marked by Code 60 flags

Porsche kept leading, its No. 911 car of Romain Dumas, Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Kevin Estre being the class of the field. Not even the No. 912 sister car driven by Fred Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz and Nick Tandy was able to stretch its legs enough to take the lead, but that proved to be unnecessary. While still in the darkness of night, news came that the No. 911 Porsche went too fast in a slow zone marked by Code 60 flags and would have to pit for a 92-seconds penalty. Romain Dumas, however, never made it back as he slid on a patch of sand an oil on a fast apex of the Nordschleife and crashed hard in the guardrails on the left-hand-side of the road. The car was out of the event before the halfway mark and Mercedes rose to the occasion to take second after the No. 912 inherited first position.

This ping-pong between the No. 4 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz and the No. 912 Porsche continued into Sunday morning when Mercedes finally got a good grip on P1 due to the only surviving Manthey car also having to spend 92 seconds in the penalty box. It gave Aston and Audi a chance to fight but this was definitely not Audi’s good day at the races as Kelvin Van Der Linde crashed out after losing control of his No. 8 R8 LMS on the greasy tarmac. The South-African managed to nurse the car back to the pits but a Top 10 finish was the best they could hope for from thereafter.

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While hail never did emerge, it was fog that slowed the proceedings down to a crawl and red flags were waved just before 12PM

While hail never did emerge, it was fog that slowed the proceedings down to a crawl and the organizers thought they’ve had enough of not being able to see 100 feet away in any direction and red flags were waved just before 12PM. The suspension saw the cars return to pit lane where teams could repair whatever needed mending. No Parc Ferme rules were applied and, more importantly, cars that were in the same lap between one another had their gaps erased. This meant that the leading No. 4 los its two-and-a-half-minutes advantage to the No. 912 when, finally, the race was restarted with 90 minutes left on the clock.

The decision to let the cars out on a long installation lap before the proper restart took place was very bold indeed, as the fog never really lifted and in those conditions you would never see an F1 Grand Prix to commence or, frankly, a FIA WEC race. Still, this was the Nurburgring and it had to live up to its Green Hell moniker coined some fifty years ago by Jackie Stewart. The final dash to the flag was absolutely stunning as, besides fog, the rain never really faltered and it kept wetting some sections of the track while there was a thing impression of a dry line appearing in other parts.

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The victory for the 100% works crew of the No. 912 Porsche was the sixth for Manthey Racing

Adam Christodoulou was tasked with bringing the No. 4 home while Frenchman Fred Makowiecki climbed aboard the No. 912 to chase down the leading SAP-sponsored Merc. The AMG car was quicker on the Dotting Hohe but the Porsche had everything covered on the twisty bits and, after three heroic laps, Christodoulou outbraked himself in the first turn of the GP track, tried to use Makowiecki as a cushion on the way out of the S curve but did a lazy half-spin and the Porsche was successfully through and in the lead. While traffic played a part in closing the gap right back down at one point, Christodoulou never re-passed his rivals and, with both teams having to stop for a 60-seconds-long splash-and-dash at the very end, Porsche all but secured its first win in seven years.

The victory for the 100% works crew of the No. 912 Porsche was the sixth for Manthey Racing which becomes the winningest team in this event while Black Falcon brought their works-backed cars home in second and third, Yelmer Buurman putting a late pass on Belgian Maxime Martin to push the Vantage to fourth.

It was an absolutely incredible finale to an epic race which is worth re-watching a few times just for good measure. It was also a good race for Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus, the lone SCG winning its class and coming home inside the Top 20 after it had run as high as fourth overall during the hours of darkness.

Many other folks left the Ring with trophies as there were over 10 classes in the race, including one especially made for the pair of Giti-shod Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeos. But you’ll want to browse through the full results below to get a better understanding of just how big the grid was and how many types of cars it included...

Top 10 Standings

Pos No Team Car Drivers Laps
1 912 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R Lietz / Pilet / Makowiecki / Tandy 135
2 4 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 Engel / Christodoulou / Metzger / Muller 135
3 5 Mercedes-AMG Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 Buurman / Jager / Seyffarth / Stolz 135
4 7 Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 Martin / Sorenson / Thiim / Turner 134
5 6 Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 Haupt / Bastian / Johansson / Piana 134
6 1 Audi Sport Team Land Audi R8 LMS Mies / van der Linde / van der Linde / Rast 133
7 3 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 Haase / Stippler / Vervisch / Muller 133
8 22 Wochenspiegel Team Monschau Ferrari 488 GT3 Kainz / Krumbach / Menzel 132
9 44 Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R Bachler / Muller / Rappinger / Werner 132
10 16 Landgraf Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 Heyer / Asch / Sandstrom / Vautier 132

Full results

Check out the full results from this year’s race - https://24h-information.de/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/LogNo_B62_Result_Race.pdf

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