Four-time 24 Hours of the Nurburgring winners Manthey Racing got their VLN series season off to a perfect start with a win in a four hour race at the legendary German Nordschliefe track.
The victory was made all the better as it came on the debut of the 480hp Porsche 911 GT3 R.
“It is extraordinary to climb to the top of the podium at the first race ever of a new race car,” said Timo Bernhard, who shared the yellow and green liveried winning car with Marc Lieb and Marcel Tiemann. The trio completed 27 laps of the circuit in the race, winning by 14.5 seconds from an Abt Sportsline run Audi R8 in the hands of Mattias Ekstrom and Emmanuel Collard.
The first of two BMW Motorsport entered M3 GT2 machines completed the podium, WTCC driver Augusto Farfus, Uwe Alzen and Pedro Lamy taking the step while their teammates – Sebring alumni Dirks Muller and Wener as well as Dirk Adorf were forced to retire after only two laps with what would turn out to be power steering failure.
“It feels great to be on the podium here at the NÃ¼rburgring's Nordschleife,” said Farfus. “We wanted to clock as many kilometres here as possible and to learn as much as we could. This worked out fine with our car. However, our rivals also proved that they will be a hard nut to crack at the 24-hour race. We will keep on working hard in order to be well-prepared for this event.”
“Our car was good in qualifying. We had approached the session quite relaxed, as grid positions are generally not too important in such a long race,” said Werner, who like Farfus is putting emphasis on the 24 Hour in May. The start itself was a bit unlucky for me. A car in front of me slowed down, and I got passed by some competitors. But then I managed to work my way up into tenth before we had to stop. It's a pity that we could only complete two laps, as every kilometre counts in preparation for the 24-hour race.”
While the BMW won the E1XP class in the second position in the class there was more good news for Porsche as the 911 GT3 R hybrid of Jorg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz and Porsche Junior driver Martin Ragginger finished sixth overall. The car features a normal combustion engine with the addition of a pair of 60Kw electric motors attached to the front axel.
“I'm positively surprised how well this car performed already at its first race,” said Bergmeister, another driver who crossed the Atlantic from Sebring. “We tried many things out during the race and will be busy further developing the hybrid drive for the 24 hour race in May. Our aim is to use less fuel than our competitors without compromising performance,” added Lietz.