The sixth hour of the 2013 Nurburgring 24 Hours ended under uncertain circumstances with the race red flagged shortly before 10:45pm local time.
Officials cited heavy rain that had been a feature of the previous two hours, as well as a return of the fog that blighted Thursday morning’s running at the Nurburgring.
The rain – forecast to come earlier in the race – finally arrived as the fourth hour of the race began. As conditions worsened the field needed to swap to wet tyres and despite making an extra stop compared to some of the other top teams the Aston Martin Racing team reaped the benefits of being one of the early adopters of the wet tyres, leaping into a thirty second lead ahead of the two green and yellow Manthey Racing Porsches with the SP7 class #18 heading its SP9 stablemate.
The pair of Porsches were both faster than Stefan Mucke in the Aston, and so closed down from half a minute to just a few seconds before all of the top four – Aston, Manthey’s SP7 dominating #18, #26 Marc VDS BMW and #1 G-Drive by Phoenix Audi – pitted at the end of their 34th lap.
However, before the quartet could get back round to the start/finish line the red flag was thrown, pulling teams into the pits. The pitstops by the top four had left the lead to the #25 Marc VDS entry – piloted at the time by Maxime Martin with the #50 Manthey Porsche second, it having stopped a lap before the leader.
“I said on the radio that it was extremely bad, and I said to the guys that this red flag is a good idea,” said Martin. “Even at 60km/h there was some aquaplaning. It started to be really dangerous. For a long time through my stints the weather was bad but not dangerous, but at the end the red flag is a good idea.”
The Belgian’s assessment is all the more the surprising given that he was one man moving forward in the worsening conditions.
“That’s what I like about the wet conditions; at some point, you can make a difference from the driver’s seat. We came back from a little way behind to the lead. There are still 18 hours to go, so we have to be calm and take it easy. If we have no big issues, we will be there.”
The Aston was scored down in sixth place having lost ground in the pits and on the out lap to the #18 which met the red flag in third place. Falken Motorsports’ Porsche was scored fourth with ROWE Racing’s #23 Mercedes SLS in fifth place.
A total of 13 cars were scored on the lead lap, the last of which being the #3 G-Drive Racing by Phoenix Audi.
Having been a fixture of the top 20 there were problems – before the red flag for the Haribo Racing Team Porsche, which lost a lap to a stay in the garage. Frikadelli, who had vacated the top 20 before the rains had lost the time to a right rear shock absorber problem.
However, with heavy rain continuing to fall around the track and no immediate news on when a restart would be possible the 2013 Nurburgring 24 Hours looks set to spend the night in limbo.
2013 Nurburgring 24 Hours selected class leaders after 6 hours (under red flag)
SP9 – #25 BMW Sports Trophy Team Marc VDS BMW – Buurman/Goransson/Martin/Piccini
SP7 – #18 Manthey Racing Porsche – Bernhard/Dumas/Lieb/Luhr (3rd overall)
SP8 – #76 GT Corse Ferrari – Gotz/Kaiser/Kohlhaas/Mattschull (28th overall)
SP3T – #111 Raeder Motorsport Audi – Breuer/Deegener/Schmidtmann/Wohlfarht (31st overall)
SP4T – #105 Besaplast Racing Audi – Kovac/Lestrup/Thiim/Tshornia (32nd overall)
SP10 – #58 Bonk Motorsport BMW – Akata/Mies/Uebler/’Wolf Silverster’ (36th overall)