Running in the wet conditions brought by persistent rain around the Nordschleife ROWE Racing were fastest in the free practice session for the 41st Nurburgring 24 Hours.
It was the team’s #23 GT3 Mercedes SLS AMG that was fastest around the 25km track, with a best time of 10:18.667 for the car driven by Lance David Arnold, Alexander Roloff, Jan Seyffarth and Thomas Jager. After the session David Arnold describe how he managed to find a clear lap, allowing him to set the time in what he described as some of the worst rain he had ever encountered.
Still with his lap the Mercedes squad led a top three of three different manufacturers, with Belgian Audi Club WRT second fastest (10:19.723) and Falken Motorsports the fastest Porsche team in third before a second ROWE Mercedes was fourth, 11 seconds slower on their fastest lap than the overall best.
In fifth – and unsurprisingly comfortably leading the SP7 class – was the Manthey Racing #18 of Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, Timo Bernhard and Lucas Luhr. The car – in Manthey’s familiar green and yellow colours was over 20 seconds faster than their nearest competition in the class, provided by Black Falcon Team TMD Friction.
“There was an incredible amount of water on the track.” said Bernhard. “We have nevertheless tried to drive fast, to get a feel how the car works in the rain.”
The best of the BMW’s was seventh fastest for Team Schubert, with the lone GT3 Aston Martin Vantage over a minute off the pace in 31st overall.
With the Frikadelli Porsche sixth fastest, Black Falcon, Manthey Racing and Abt Team Mamerow provided the rest of the overall top ten for Mercedes, Porsche and Audi respectively.
The lone Corvette in the race – a C6 – was the fastest car in the SP8 class in 19th overall with a best lap of 11:01.303. Team Mathol Racing – one of three Aston Martin Vantage GT4 contesting the SP10 was fastest in that category.
With less than perfect weather that forced the cancellation of the morning’s support race schedule the practice session was cut by 30 minutes to just an hour. With time pressures and the track conditions several teams skipped the session, while others’ running was limited to only a couple of laps, including the #1 Audi of G-Drive Racing by Phoenix that completed only a single lap, and that nearly 8 minutes off the pace.
The 24 Hours field should return to the Nordschliefe for the first qualifying session starting at 7:35pm local time (6:35pm UK) and running into darkness to finish at 11:30pm.