Maximillian Gotz and the #9 Team Get Speed Mercedes AMG GT are leading after six action packed hours of the Nurburgring 24 Hours, as the lone Merc is holding its own against a train of Audis.
In an opening six hours that was dominated by wet and misty weather the Mercedes proved to be the car to have as the AMG GTs of the #9 and the polesitting #4 HRT Team battled for the race lead which sadly ended when the #4 crashed out after 4 hours.
Audi was the only manufacturer whose cars could match the pace of the Mercs but as the track dried they came into play and they currently hold positions second to fifth.
At the start the polesitting #4 Mercedes of Maro Engel got jumped by fellow front row starter, the #26 Octane 126 Ferrari of Jonathan Hirschi who lead the race along the GP circuit but Raffaele Marciello in the #9 Mercedes grabbed the lead by the time the field entered the Nordschleife and quickly accelerated away as the Goodyear shod Ferrari rapidly fell back and had dropped back to 25th place by the end of the first lap.
Marciello sprinted away from Engel and held a 12 second lead by the time the leaders made their first stops.
Third place at this point was the impressive #21 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini of Marco Mapelli who had charged through the field from 23rd place on the grid despite their first pitstop being compromised by a mechanic’s shoe getting caught under the car’s front tyre.
Sadly the impressive run came to an end when the Lamborghini pulled off after three and a half hours after leaving a long trail of oil all behind it over the circuit.
Fabian Schiller took over from Marciello in the third hour but the comfortable 64 second lead the Italian had left him with was steadily eroded due to constant slow zones & the pace of the newly installed Manuel Metzger in the chasing #4 Mercedes.
As the track became darker and darker, the two Mercedes were nose to tail and the #9 decided to role the dice and go for a 9 lap stint instead of normal 8 lap stint the #4 opted for.
The strategy didn’t work and the #9 emerged 46 seconds behind Metzger, but star driver Maxi Gotz was now behind the wheel.
Yet he was unable to make much impression on the leader until the end of the four hour when Metzger was caught out by an oil on the surface which caused him to spin into the barriers, taking out a Porsche Cup car on its way.
This accident eliminated the leader from race and handing the lead back to Gotz who apart from tapping a Porsche Cup car into a spin while lapping it, had an untroubled fifth hour.
The rain which dominated the first two hours of the race began to ease within the third hour and the track started to dry in places and it was at this point that the chasing Audis picked up speed.
The #1 Phoenix Racing Audi ended the fifth hour in second place, with the the team initially long way behind the two Mercedes but as the night began to fall their pace began tp increase and they entered the six hours 41 seconds behind Gotz.
The #29 Land Motorsport Audi rounded out the podium with the #3 Audi Sport and #5 Phoenix Racing R8 LMSs occupying fourth and fifth places.