With three hours of this year’s Nurburgring 24 Hours remaining the Mercedes teams appear to have taken a stranglehold on the race in search of the marque’s first ever win in the race.
As the clock ticked through three hours to go SP9 class SLS held the top three positions, with the #9 Black Falcon car of Bernd Schneider, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Sean Edwards and Nicki Thiim leading by 90 seconds from the best pair of the ROWE Racing cars with the #23 trying to chase down the leader.
The Black Falcon car and the #23 swapped the lead as the pair made stops on different laps having both been able to get ahead the Marc VDS BMW that looked so strong in the worst of the conditions after the restart. Though much of the rain has cleared showers have remained in the area, especially around the Grand Prix circuit.
It was that rain, as well as the grass still soaked by the overnight deluge that pushed the Falken Motorsports Porsche out the lead group. Having lead a lap earlier on the #44 was chasing down both the #18 Manthey Porsche and the #1 G-Drive Racing by Phoenix Audi around the Grand Prix track when it spun off. Insult was added to injury as – running on slicks, such was the start of the majority of the track – the car was unable to gain enough traction to rejoin without the aid of a two rope from a course car. Even when being towed the Porsche continued to slither and slide across the grass.
That delay was added to an error in tyre strategy by the team – swapping from slicks onto wet, only to stop a lap later to take slick tyres back on. Thus the team ended the 21st hour in only tenth place having dropped off the lead lap and behind both the G-Drive/Phoenix #3 Audi and the Aston Martin Racing entry, both of which had also dropped off the lead lap.
Behind the three SLS Marc VDS hold the honour of being the nearest challenger, though they were four minutes behind with just three hours to go. The #1 runs as best Audi with the SP7 topping #18 the best Porsche for Manthey Racing, the similarly liveried SP9 car having been delayed by gear selection issues and fighting its way up from the very bottom of the top 20.
The second best SP7 car is the #88 Haribo Racing Team running in 12th with a total of five cars from the class in the top twenty.
Eslewhere in the classes there were problems for the erstwhile SP8 leaders – the GT Corse Ferrari 458, knocking it out of contention and allowing the #81 Corvette into a two lap lead over the Gazoo Racing Lexus LFA.
The Italian run, but partly British driven, #65 Ginetta G50 from Nova Racing continues to lead the SP10 class for GT4 spec machinery while differently speced Audi TTs lead both SP3T and SP4T.
This year’s event has been devoid of the high speed accidents that are always possible on the Nordschleife. However one of the V6 class leading Porsche Cayman lost control on the crest approaching the tight right hander at Aremberg, spinning into the barrier on the right of the road, ripping both tyres off the side that made contact before spinning into the gravel trap waiting at Aremberg below. Thankfully the driver walked away uninjured.
2013 Nurburgring 24 Hours selected class leaders after 21 hours
SP9 – #9 Black Falcom Mercedes – Bleekemolen/Edwards/Schneider/Thiim
SP7 – #18 Manthey Racing Porsche – Bernhard/Dumas/Lieb/Luhr (6th overall)
SP8 – #81 Corvette – Guttroff/Kiesch/Klasen/Strycek (23rd overall)
SP3T – #111 Raeder Motorsport Audi – Breuer/Deegener/Schmidtmann/Wohlfarht (24st overall)
SP4T – #105 Besaplast Racing Audi – Kovac/Lestrup/Thiim/Tshornia (25th overall)
SP10 – #65 Nova Racing Ginetta – Cressoni/Fletcher/Simpson/Scarpaccio (28th overall)
SP2T – #216 Peugeot Automobiles Peugeot – Frankenhout/Niederhauser/Radermecker/Ricci (31st overall)