Porsche wins Nürburgring 24Hrs


The crack Manthey team delivered Porsche a 10th victory in the Nürburgring 24 Hours after a hard-fought race that featured a complete checklist of serious entries from the great German car giants.

Marc Lieb, Lucas Luhr, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas led the race in their lime green GT3 RSR (below) from 11.30pm on Saturday night until the 4pm finish on Sunday afternoon. But the victory, which gives Porsche valuable bragging rights over BMW, Audi and Mercedes for the rest of the year, was never a foregone conclusion in a race featuring 202 starters – of which 135 survived the round-the-clock classic on the fabulous 14-mile Nordschleife.


BMW, which won this race last year, finished just under four and a half minutes behind the Manthey Porsche – which equates to about half a lap. The Schnitzer team will rue a mistake by Portuguese Pedro Lamy who crashed into a slower car at the Karussell on Saturday evening. The accident was bad enough, but Lamy then compounded his error by driving the wrong way round the top of the famous hairpin in his attempt to recover.

The M3 GT (below) lost three minutes in the pits for repairs – and a further three minutes for a stop-go penalty incurred for Lamy’s error. “I was in a position from which it was very difficult to come out from,” he argued. “It was the only way.” The mistake made all the difference to the result for the car he shared with Augusto Farfus, Jörg Müller and Nordschleife specialist Uwe Alzen.


For the winning drivers in the Manthey Porsche, the result added to their formidable records on the greatest race track in the world. Luhr completed his Nürburgring 24 Hours hat-trick, while both Lieb and Dumas have now won here four times. But perhaps most significantly, Bernard now shares the record of five wins with Lamy and Marcel Tiemann.

Audi scored a 3-4-5 two weeks after its victory at Le Mans. The Team Phoenix-run R8 LMS of Marc Basseng, Marcel Fässler, Andrea Piccini and Frank Stippler (below) finished ahead of its sister car and the lead Team Abt Sportsline entry after a race in which the R8s proved fast in a straight line, but just short of the overall pace required to win.


The first of the rumbling Mercedes-Benz SLS AMGs, entered by Black Falcon, was sixth. But there was late heartbreak for the three-pointed star which should have kept Audi off the podium. With just 40 minutes left the Heico Motorsport entry, which had shadowed the Manthey Porsche and lead BMW through the night, was forced into the garage for repairs to its left-rear corner. The car returned to the track to claim a disconsolate seventh for Alex Margaritis, Lance Arnold, Christopher Brück and Christiaan Frankenhout.

The pole-winning Ferrari 458 Italia, which also proved to be the fastest car during long periods of the race, came home eighth carrying with it another story of what might have been. The Hankook Team Farnbacher-run car looked in a strong position to cause an upset and beat the mighty German hoards, only for a wishbone change to scupper its hopes. The team, previously a long-time Porsche entrant, was frustrated to discover the problem was caused by material fatigue. The Ferrari lost 45 minutes during its 8pm stop, dropping it to 68th place. It ran without serious drama during a remarkable recovery by drivers Dominik Farnbacher, Allan Simonsen, Marco Seefried and Jaime Melo.


Aston Martin’s pair of brand new Zagatos (above) made it to the flag after eventful races. Collisions and a gearbox change ruined the chances of a class-winning result, but the team logged useful race mileage on the stubby-looking cars.

Final word must go to Hans-Joachim Stuck. At the age of 60, the legend has decided the time has finally come to hang up his helmet. That he chose to end his career racing with his sons in a Reiter Engineering Lamborghini Gallardo hardly seemed fitting for a man who became a national hero in Porsches, BMWs and Audis, but the supercar proved competitive at the ’Ring, allowing Stuck and his lads to make it to 4pm in 15th place. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

Pictures courtesy of Aston Martin, Audi, BMW and Porsche AG

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