With a flawless performance at the ‘Green Hell’, locally based Team Phoenix won the ADAC TOTAL Nurburgring 24 Hours for the fifth time. The Audi R8 LMS team’s German-Belgian driver line-up of Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler, Frederic Vervisch and Dries Vanthoor prevailed in front of an estimated 230,000 fans.
Vanthoor, who contested the final stint, succeeded in easily keeping at bay the second-placed Porsche 911 GT3 R No. 911 of another locally based team, Manthey Racing. With 157 laps completed and a 2,475 miles covered, Phoenix’s win in the Eifel Marathon also gave Audi its fifth win in the prestigious event. For all the drivers apart from Stippler, who already won the race in 2012 it was a first Nurburgring triumph.
“For me, having won the 24h race at the Nurburgring represents a dream come true,” said Kaffer. “It’s my home race and it has a really big significance for me in addition to my wins at Le Mans and Sebring. I’m proud of the entire Phoenix-Audi squad and have come full circle, now, as Ernst Moser was my teacher in my early motor-racing days.”
Kevin Estre and his teammates, Earl Bamber, Michael Christensen and Laurens Vanthoor lost their chance of winning the race due to a 5m32s time penalty they received for speeding in a twin yellow flags area. The Vanthoor brothers are the first pair of siblings since 1985 that have made it to the podium for two different teams. In that year, the feat was achieved by Axel und Jochen Felder.
Third place was secured by Maximilian Buhk, Hubert Haupt, Thomas Jager and Luca Stolz in the Black-Falcon-Mercedes-AMG No. 3. The best BMW was the Bester BMW Falken car No. 44 that finished seventh, while all the other five BMWs M6 GT3 were forced into early retirements, thus making for a lot of frustration in the camp of the record winners. Apart from Audi, Porsche, Mercedes-AMG and BMW, the Glickenhaus-SCG No. 705 and the Kondo-Nissan No. 45 also made into the top 10 by finishing ninth and 10th.
The early stages of the race were dominated by the polesitters, the Black-Falcon-Mercedes-AMG No. 2, raced by Maro Engel, and Estre in the Manthey-Porsche No. 911. This order lasted nearly until midnight but then, Adam Christodoulou had to park the No. 2. After a collision while passing a slower car, the steering gear was broken. In the night, the Glickenhaus-SCG No. 705 that had worked its way up consistently and held a top-three position for quite a while, had a close encounter with a slower car and the long repair stop cost it several laps
Meanwhile, the Phoenix Audi No. 4 and the Land Audi No. 29 entertained the crowds in the night and the morning hours with numerous enthralling slipstream battles and overtaking maneuvers to the max. Later, the battle was joined by the Black-Falcon-Mercedes-AMG No. 6
Three hours before the race was over, the race control imposed a 5.32-minute time penalty on the clearly leading Manthey-Porsche No. 911 for crossing the speed trap in a twin yellow flag 120kph zone at 172 kph. After having served the penalty the Porsche rejoined the race in second position behind the new leaders, the Phoenix Audi No. 4, that took the lead as the Audi No. 29 had to retire because half the bodywork was destroyed after a tire failure and the Black-Falcon-Mercedes-AMG No. 6 crashed out.