A little bit over a week ago the event, that is the season Highlight for many, took place at the Nürburgring – the hunt twice around the clock at the infamous Green Hell.
It was a dramatic, ever changing Race that took place in dry conditions over the whole distance of the Race – how unlikely Eifel Weather!
A big exciter, especially after the Top Qualifying, was the Balance of Performance chosen for the 24 hours.
Changed after a 1-2-3 Win for BMW at the Qualy Race it was the Bavarians with the biggest disadvantage to the top Predators of the Race. With no chance to qualify in the Top 10, big changes were done to BMW, that lead also to benefits for Lamborghini, Audi, Nissan and Lexus, and more weight for Mercedes and Porsche.
The top Class was now more equally balanced than before but a feeling was left that Porsche and Mercedes still had an advantage over the other brands.
At least the Top 10 were clearly dominated by those two brands in the first hours of the Race with only Audi being able to go with their pace.
Personally, this race leaves me with the wish, that the organisation will find a better way to create an equal BOP for all competitors, as it is in the spirit of GT3 to bring the diversity of Concepts to a coequal Niveau to provide breathtaking Races all over the world. The biggest Problem seems to me, that the BOP is missing continuity as it is being changed after every Race again and again. Organizing a BOP day at the start of the season, making it a necessity to all manufacturers who wish to enter the 24h Race of that very year, to test all the cars with one unbiased Driver and matching lap times, sounds like a good way to me, to realise this.
That resulting BOP should then be set as the ground basis for the whole year.
The BOP being set up equally, however it´s been done, could lead to even more unnerving editions of the 24 hours at the Green Hell and a true richness of the GT3 Manufactures.
The whole Race was pumped full of nasty crashes and mechanical problems over the whole duration.
It was especially BMW with a black Saturday. One Car after the other crashed out of the Race or had a mechanical problem. After just some hours of Racing, every chance of a Victory was done as the inserted cars of Schnitzer, Rowe and Walkenhorst went out of the Race. In the end, it was only one M6 to reach the finish of the race. It was the Falken Motorsport entry finishing on P6.
A very hefty crash happened on the Döttinger Höhe as a Porsche Cayman oversaw a code 60 section and hit one of the KCMG inserted Nissan GT-R. The Porsche slammed with high speed into the back and was catapulted into the air leaving plenty of debris from itself and the Nissan behind. The accident happened just about 6 hours went from the race and took both cars out.
This years edition was also the Swan Song of the BMW Z4 GT3 which was brought to the Nordschleife from Peter Posavac with Support of Walkenhorst Motorsport for many years after the M6 GT3 was implemented by BMW. What should have been a festival for the team, drivers and especially the fans turned into a nightmare. Vanishing early from the race with problems, the car was repaired for many hours and went deep into the night on to bring “Zetti” back. Which finally happened in the early Sunday hours. But another crash soon after ended the Race of the fan favorite for good.
The Event seeing also a lot of Contenders for the Victory being erased from the leader board made this edition to a true attrition warfare. The conclusion was that you had to stay out of trouble and being flawless to stand a chance for Victory.
Besides spectacular failure of Man and Machine throughout the field, also thrilling and unnerving battles for positions wowed the crowds along the track from start to finish.
Especially the Audis from Phoenix Racing and Land Motorsport served narrowly battles for positions on and on again.
If it was Rene Rast in the Land Audi attacking the Mercedes of Gabriele Piana and being forced into the Grass! And that at the Döttinger Höhe with around 250km/h, seeing Rast – no, not crashed – showcasing his exceptional driving ability to prevent his vehicle from any harm. Or the furious battles between the bespoken Land Motorsport and Phoenix Racing Drivers providing a great show and Motorsport at it´s finest. Close, almost rubbing high-speed duells were executed on the very edge in perfection. Being always hard to each other, but fair, made this battle to one of the many highlights of the Race.
Pushing each other to the limits lap after lap they were also climbing up the leader board and putting themselves in a good position for the end result.
Another glorious battle was being held by the Giti Tire – Girls only Team, but off track! Coming back to the box after just one lap with an engine failure, many would have waved their flags already. But not those girls!
Changing the whole engine in a 13-hour operation without a single break, brought them back on track and finishing the Race eventually. This is one of the great Stories, only Motorsport can provide.
Another emotional Moment was the return of the iconic Opel Manta for the very last lap of the Race to be registered in the final result. The Opel Manta was one of the many victims of the Green Hell this year. After a big crash, the Car was restored and joined the race again, to show his gratefulness to all his Fans around the Nordschleife.
This Moment was being applauded to not only by the Fans at the Track but also it´s competitors, to salute to the great Sportsmanship.
Late Decision about the Victory
Coming back to the epic fight of Land and Phoenix.
The battle did rage on Sunday morning about 8 hours to Race end and got on about 3 hours providing some overtakes to remember on. If found its end when a puncture on the rear right tire damaged the Land Audi that heavy, they had to retire, just some hours to the end of the race.
That was just the beginning of a dramatic end sequence.
With the Black Falcon Mercedes #2 already gone, a victory contender for the whole race until a misunderstanding while lapping a car took them out of the race in the night, also the last Mercedes with a chance on the win, entered by GetSpeed Performance, declined to go further, just short after the Land Audis incident.
Now it was Porsche on 1-2 with only Phoenix being able to bring some competition to them. But the God of Motorsports decided it was not enough as also the second positioned Porsche 911 GT3R from Fikadelli Racing had to retire.
After a long period of time investigating on a yellow flag infringement from the #911 Porsche entered by Manthey Racing, it was decided to give a time penalty to be held at the pits of 5 Minutes and 32 seconds.
The big amount of this time penalty grounded on the fact that a double yellow flag zone was passed with over 170km/h instead of 120km/h.
This brought the Phoenix Audi into the lead short to end of the Race with Grello just about one minute in their back. Though Grello was able to reduce the gap to about 40 seconds, victory was not to be taken anymore from the Audi equippe.
So it was eventually Audi to take victory with their 5th Win, which was also the 5th Victory at the Green Hell for Phoenix.
Though the BOP left a bit of a taste on the Event, the event itself was a marvelous Motorsports Party with breathtaking Action on Track and great achievements off track. Providing a great Fan Service who paid back with creating a very special and unique atmosphere all around the Track as always. The Race paid definitely his contribution to the History of one of the worlds greatest 24-hour Races.
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