This weekend the infamous “Grello” Manthey Porsche #911 stormed to a healthy victory at the Nürburgring 24-hour race marking three major milestones. Not only was this Manthey’s 25th anniversary as a racing team, but it was the team’s seventh overall victory at the endurance race, and Porsche’s 13th! No other team or manufacturer has been so successful at this extremely grueling event. The trio of works Porsche drivers in Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen, and Matteo Cairoli finished first overall in their SP9-classed Porsche 911 GT3 R. Strangely, this endurance race was less of an endurance and more of a sit around and wait, because the Eifel mountains decided to be so foggy as to block racing visibility, and the race was red flagged for over 14 hours of the 24.
The team owes much of its success this weekend to Kevin Estre, who managed to crawl his way up the leader board from 11th to the lead in the first hour. The conditions out on track were treacherous with an unexpected downpour, and Estre managed to not only keep the car on the black stuff, but tiptoed around at a speed fast enough to gain the lead and stay there for a while. By the time the red flag came out at 9:30 that night, the Manthey car had fallen back to sixth, but was still well in contention, as were many other Porsche teams. When the green came out again for the final three and a half-hours the next day, Estre again wowed the world with a great drive to the front. He handed off to Christensen for a stint, then got back into the car for the final hour to bring it home in P1.
Customer vehicles campaigned by Frikadelli, KCMG, and Rutronik were all early contenders for the race win, but each of them suffered crash damage out on the circuit and were knocked out of contention with lengthy stays in the pit lane. It was all a game of luck this weekend, and the Grello Manthey car managed to find the lion’s share of it. The Huber Motorsport team did manage to bring home the win for Porsche in the Pro-Am class as well as the SP7 class, netting Porsche a treble victory.
Comments on the race
Nicolas Raeder (Manthey team principal): “We’re incredibly proud that we managed to win the Nürburgring 24-hour race on our 25th anniversary. It was a very short but extremely intense race. We didn’t compete last year and I’d almost forgotten how exciting it is. The team and the Porsche back office worked brilliantly. We didn’t make any mistakes, and that gave us the leading edge in the end.”
Olaf Manthey (Manthey team founder): “2006 was the most emotional victory at the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring because it was our first. But this one on our 25th anniversary, I can only say: I love the entire Manthey team and I will never stop loving them!”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “First I have to catch my breath and take it all in. The race was unusually short and perhaps for this reason it was extremely intense and exhausting. Our car was really strong over the weekend and the team did a flawless job. I’m proud of the Manthey crew. It means a great deal to win in the anniversary year.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “We worked our way to the front with a mammoth team effort and defended it consequently. Thank you to everyone who made this success possible. I’m incredibly proud of the team, of my teammates Michael and Kévin – and a little bit of myself too.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “This is the most wonderful moment in my life so far! I still have tears of joy in my eyes and I have no words to describe how I feel. Kévin’s drive was simply out of this world. Of course, our victory is a team effort and also Porsche’s but I think Kévin actually achieved something absolutely magical in this race.”
Reinhard Huber (Huber Motorsport team principal): “Last year we competed in two classes and won both. This year we did it again with our Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro-Am class and also won the SP7 class. Of course, you always hope for such a result, but when you see it on the official results it’s just incredible.”
Stefan Aust (Porsche 911 GT3 R #23): “That was a tough and very unusual race. Unfortunately, there weren’t even 10 hours of real racing so we amateurs couldn’t contribute much. Our professional drivers and our team did a great job. We deserved this victory and we’ll be celebrating accordingly.”
Results for the Porsche 911 GT3 R
1. Estre/Cairoli/Christensen (F/I/DK), Manthey #911
4. Bachler/Ragginger/S. Müller/Picariello (A/A/D/B), Falken Motorsports #44
8. Neuffer/Aust/N. Menzel/Seefried (D/D/D/D), Huber Motorsport #23
9. Bachler/Werner/Preining/Arnold (A/D/A/D), Falken Motorsports #33
22. Pilet/Makowiecki/Martin/Olsen (F/F/B/N), Frikadelli Racing #31
63. Imperatori/Burdon/Liberati/Holzer (CH/AUS/I/D), KCMG #18
DNF. Dumas/Andlauer/L. Vanthoor/T. Müller (F/F/B/D), Rutronik #3
DNF. Jaminet/Tandy/Bamber/Campbell (F/GB/NZ/AUS), Frikadelli Racing #30