Having started the #4 car from pole position Frank Stippler led the Nurburgring 24 Hours at the end of the opening hour, with Marcel Fassler in second place having closed right in for the two Audis to finish the seventh lap nose-to-tail.
Stippler had led the race from the start in the Phoenix Racing #4 he will share with Ferdinand Stuck, Johannes Stuck and Michael Ammermuller, but Fassler fought up from finishing the first lap in 4th to pass both the #50 Manthey Racing Porsche and the Pedro Lamy driven Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3.
Lamy lost third at the end of the hour when he pitted and Marco Holzer put the #50 Porsche into third place. The #11 Frikadelli Porsche completed the top five at the end of the hour.
The opening hour, however, was not all good for the leading teams. Having started third Christian Mamerow slowed the #2 Abt Team Mamerow on the Dottinger Hohe straight before bringing the car to the pits. He returned to the race, having lost almost a lap but slowed again on his second circuit of the Nordschleife and returned to the pits with apparent underfloor damage.
The SP9 problems were not limited to Mamerow’s entry. Both BMW Team Schubert cars slowed on the same lap (having been running close to each other) with at least one being pulled into the garage on its return to the pits. Late in the first hour – lap seven – Andreas Simonsen spun the #10 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS with broken left-rear suspension. Having put the car back in the correct direction Simonsen limped the car that fastest in both ‘open’ qualifying sessions back to the pits at an increasing angle of yaw.
The Schubert problems left Marc VDS’ #25 the best of the BMW Z4 GT3 in the race in sixth place.
Further down the order several cars had sizable offs in the opening laps, giving an early test to the new 60km/h limited double waved yellow protected zones. Perhaps the most notable car to make an early exit against the barriers was the #95 BMW of British drivers Rob Smith, Adam Sharpe and Colin White, which crashed on the opening lap on the corner before Karussell.
While the two Audis led the way by over half a minute at the end of the Aston’s stop – Lamy giving way to Allan Simonsen in the #007 – signalled the start of the first round of stops for the front runners, though two of the ROWE Racing Mercedes SLS had pitted early, hoping to reap rewards with an early roll of strategic dice.
2013 Nurburging 24 Hours selected class leaders after 1 hour
SP9 – #4 Phoenix Racing Audi – Ammermuller/Stippler/Stuck/Stuck
SP7 – #18 Manthey Racing Porsche – Bernhard/Dumas/Lieb/Luhr (8th overall)
SP8 – #79 Gazoo Racing Lexus – Ishiura/Kageyama/Morizo/Oshima (31st overall)
SP4T – #105 Besaplast Racing Audi – Kovac/Lestrup/Thiim/Tshornia (38th overall)
SP10 – #56 Porsche – Jacoma/Viebahn/Weber (40th overall)