The #4 Phoenix Racing team lead the 2014 ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours after three hours, inheriting the lead shortly before the end of the hour when the #66 Dorr Motorsport McLaren made its third pitstop of the race.
As it did so it took the lead for the second time of the race, the previous time coming when it passed the #14 Black Falcon Mercedes on the Dottinger Hohe to take the lead before the SLS came into the pits at the end of the 15th lap. However, the Audi – shared between Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow, Rene Rast and Markus Winkelhock – pitted a lap later handing the point back to the McLaren team.
Though fast – the MP4-12C drivers enjoying a lead of over two minutes it came at the expense of poorer fuel mileage than many of their rivals – having to make a third scheduled stop before any of their rivals at the end of lap 18, allowing the Audi back into the lead which it held by 5.5 second over the #14 Mercedes as the hour came to a close.
Having given up the lead the McLaren crossed the line in fourth in the middle of a tight battle with the #26 Marc VDS BMW and the #22 Rowe Racing SLS.
Following the issues for many teams in the first hour the race several more of the top teams fell from contention (and perhaps the race altogether) as a result of issues.
The #69 Dorr Motorsport McLaren spent much of the second and third plagued by mechanical problems that only allowed it to crawl around the track. Having made it back from the Nordschleife the car returned to the GP track several times, each with little outward show of a successful repair as it simply limped back to the pits.
More dramatic was the #3 Phoenix Racing Audi’s demise at the Teirgarten chicane at the end of the Dottinger Hohe. Seemingly with broken suspension or similar the car pitched suddenly into the barriers on drivers’ left before sliding across the track not once, but twice to come to a rest facing back down the track. The driver was thankfull unhurt but the car – which carried Marcel Fassler’s hopes of taking the unprecedented Le Mans and Nurburgring double – suffered very heavy damage,
Of the top 20 overall at the end of the hour only the Manthey Racing SP-Pro class Porsche was not a SP9/GT3 class car. The mantle of the ‘best of the rest’ had had earlier been held by the SP8 Lexus LFA of Gazoo Racing. However, the #48 fell down the overall standings to 32nd during the third hour, though it kept the lead of it’s class.
Elsewhere in the race Rotek racing lead the SP4T class with the Anglo-American piloted Audi TTRS, and the Kissling Motorsport Opel Manta leads SP3.
2014 ADAC Zurich Nurburgring 24 Hours overall standings after 3 hours:
1 – #4 Phoenix Racing Audi – Haase/Mamerow/Rast/Winkelhock
2 – #14 Black Falcon Mercedes – Al Faisal/Haupt/Christodoulou/Buurman
3 – #26 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS – Leinders/Palttala/Catsburg/Adorf
4 – #66 Dorr Motorsport McLaren – Estre/Kox/Mullen/Bert
5 – #22 Rowe Racing Mercedes – Zehe/Hohenadel/Bastian/Engel
Selected Class leaders:
SP-Pro – #11 Wochenspiegel Team Manthey Porsche
SP7 – #41 Black Falcon Porsche
SP8 – #48 Gazoo Racing Lexus
SP10 – #94 Team Mathol Racing Aston Martin
SP3T – #111 Raeder Motorsport Audi
SP4T – #108 Rotek Racing Audi