The astonishing late rate of attrition among the top teams shows no sign of relenting as the 40th Nurburgring 24 Hours heads for its final three hours of competition.
Soon after the start of the nineteenth hour the leading no.22 ROWE Racing Mercedes SLS that had dominated a chunk of the event during Sunday morning pulled into the pits – reportedly with a problem with right rear damper on the car – from the grand prix loop out of a battle with the no.3 Audi R8. With the Mercedes in the pits the Audi look the lead with more than a two minute margin to the no.20 BMW Team Schubert BMW Z4 in second place.
That margin, however, was not enough for the Audi to pit and still retain the lead the BMW instead taking its turn in the lead for three laps before dropping back into the void in the leaderboard behind the Bilstien sponsored R8, three minutes in arrears as the top two matched each other for lap times.
The no.20 would be the next to make an unscheduled and lengthy pit call with technical issues, being pulled back into the garage for repairs that would drop off the lead lap.
Another lead lap car that hit technical problems was the only remaining competitive Team Manthey Porsche – the no.11 which pitted at the end of lap 127 reportedly with brake problems.
The continuing problems for the GT3 cars – the no.22 Mercedes stopping out on track on its return from attempted repairs in the garage – have allowed the SP8 leading Lexus LFA back into the top 20 along with both Audi Race Experience fielded R8s after both endured separate tribulations early in the race.
The speight of problems gave the no.3 Audi a huge lead of around seven minutes head – initially – just the four remaining cars on the lead lap though this fell to three after the no.66 Hankook Team Heico Mercedes made it's scheduled pitstop.
The sister Hankook SLS runs second at the end of the 21st hour, albeit seven minutes behind the lead Audi with the Mamarow Racing Audi third, clinging onto the tail of the lead lap.
The Ferrari powered P 4/5 continues to run well in fourteenth, shadowed by the SP7 leading Porsche conserving it's lap lead over its class rivals.
Both the SP4T and SP10 GT4 class leaders have crept into the foot of the top 30 with the SP3T, SP8T and SP6 leaders all inside the top 40 with three hours to go.
2012 Nurburgring 24 Hours Selected Class Leaders After 21 Hours
SP9 GT3 – No.3 Audi Sport Team Phoenix Audi R8 LMS ultra – Basseng/Haase/Stippler/Winkelhock
SP7 – No.150 Kremer Racing Porsche 911 GT3 KR – Kaufmann/Heger/Schornstein/Kuku
SP8 – No.83 Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA – Kinoshita/Iida/Wakisaka
SP3T – No.133 Subaru Tecnica International Subaru GVB – Yoshide/Sesaki/Belka/van Dam
SP10 GT4 – No.70 Bonk Motorsport BMW M3 GT4 – Flack/Silvester/Akata/Merten
SP4T – No.111 Raeder Motorsport Audi TT RS – Deegener/Wohlfarth/Breuer/Landmann
SP8T – No.123 Team GT Academy Nissan GTR – Yamauchi/Ordonez/Schulze/Yamamoto
SP6 – No.98 Dorr Motorsport BMW Z4 Coupe – Scheibner/Weishar/Aust/Dorr