Seventeen hours into an action packed and surprising Nurburgring 24 Hours the Manthey Racing run Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid held an advantage of more than five minutes over the best of the Audi R8 LMS in second place.
The car – piloted in turn by Porsche works drivers Jorg Bergmeister, Richard Lietz, Marco Holzer and Martin Ragginger – held its lead through the night, having overcome a puncture and a time penalty on Saturday, and benefitting from the Hybrid technology, allowing it to complete ten laps per stint – at least two more than most of the other top runners.
The orange, white and grey liveried car was, perhaps, the only leading Porsche to make it through the night unscathed and with its victory challenge still intact.
The Haribo Goldbear backed car, the fastest Porsche in qualifying, dropped out of the leading group after a long pitstop to replace the car's racing shock absorbers. The lengthy repairs dropped the team as low as 70th place overall, however the team opted to continue in the race, simply aiming to finish.
Troubles also hit the Mamerow Racing effort, with an accident ending their race around 8pm local time.
However, the biggest Porsche news from the night was the withdrawal of the no.1 Manthey Racing car, with the team that had won the last three Nurburgring 24 Hours. Soon after true darkness fell across the Nordschleife a car in a slower class crashed ahead of the car, which was leading at the time with Marc Lieb aboard. The errant car ricocheted off the track's Armco barriers and into the path of Lieb, leaving the German nowhere to go.
The car was recovered to the pits however, team boss Olaf Manthey made the decision to withdraw the car from the race, ending the team's (and drivers Lieb, Marcel Tiemann, Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas) winning streak. “It was going so well with an absolutely perfect car,” said Lieb. “We are all very disappointed.”
There was better news for the road-spec 911 GT3 RS. The only sticking point for the car was an unscheduled stop to replace front brakes after a very minor on-track incident, with the car driver by Roland Asch, Patrick Simon, Horst van Saurma and Chris Harris eighteenth overall in a car reportedly driven to the Nurburgring from Porsche's Stuttgart base.