As the ever decreasing field of competitors negotiated the night-time hours, the #88 Haribo Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 kept on plowing round the Nurburgring 24 Hours as other SP9 runners tried but failed to keep up.
With the crew of the #88 – Lance David Arnold, Uwe Alzen, Max Gotz and Jan Seyffarth – also sharing the #8 Mercedes it was always going to be a question of which one got pulled first and with damage for the #8 following a collision with another car at Pflanzgarten it was clear that Haribo were going to retire the second car to ensure their quartet could focus their efforts on maintaining a lead they would manage to hold even through the rounds of routine pit stops.
That said, their rivals were not going to let them take this Nurburgring victory that easily and fellow Mercedes competitors were always there or thereabouts with the #4 Black Falcon lurking in the darkness ready to strike should the #88 come to grief.
Locking out the front-end of the field for the Mercedes runners was the sister Black Falcon car and the #30 HTP Motorsport machine but the #912 Team Manthey Porsche 911 GT3R was keeping itself out of trouble at the sharp end of the field and was making it noticed that there was more than one German manufacturer at the Nordschleife.
The same could be said for the car one place ahead of the sixth-placed #912 – the #100 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driven in long stints over night by John Edwards. Engaging with small skirmishes on the places ahead, he couldn’t make any serious in-roads into the top four but kept his rivals alert enough that should they make a small mistake, they’ll be staring at a BMW front-wing for a good while after.
Sadly, two cars that won’t be trying to negotiated themselves further up the grid are the two Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3s which both suffered damage on the green hell bad enough to end the British charge prematurely. That said, while it was a bad night for the Racing side of operations it was a good one for Aston Martin Test Centre as the debutant Aston Martin Vantage GT8 – running in the SP8 class – now had access to Darren Turner and that factory knowledge has helped the car establish a decent lead at the front of that class albeit down in 42nd place overall.
Also finishing early was the Audi Race Experience Audi R8 LMS with Alex Yoong behind the wheel which was tagged by a competitor and hit the barriers. Thankfully Yoong was reported as being fine, but the car was in no state to continue.
One other major incident overnight saw the front-running #30 HTP Mercedes crash out of fourth place after reported contact with the barriers at Metzgesfeld. Thankfully Maxi Buhk was reported to be fine, but it meant the order had a decent reshuffle as the night started to lose its grip on the ‘Ring.
As the race closed in on the final six hours, the #88 Haribo carwould still command a decent lead but the #4 Black Falcon would keep it honest closing the lead down to just eight seconds as the pitstops filtered through once again. The #29 HTP car and the #9 pole-sitting Black Falcon would ensure the three-pointed star would have the four best positions with the #100 BMW leading the Bavarian charge to the Stuttgart squadron.
Behind them would be the #912 Manthey Porsche with Stuart Leonard piloting the highest placed Audi – the #2 Team WRT Audi – into eighth.