Porsche did everything it could to win the Nurburgring 24 Hour race. With seven quasi-factory, or at least factory-supported cars in the race, and most of the contracted Porsche drivers behind the wheel, the only thing that could be done was run the race. It was quite obvious after the first few stints that the 911 GT3 R was the package to have for this race. While one of the Manthey Racing cars was out of contention early with a flat tire that cost them several minutes, the other "Grello" colored #911 was trucking along at the front, just pounding out laps. From about hour 5 of the race, the Porsche 911 number 911 took over the lead in dramatic fashion (below) and didn't give it up for 17 straight hours.
— DC-3 (@Douglas_DC_3) June 22, 2019
That was 17 straight hours. Until... Well, here it is, straight from the mouth of Laurens Vanthoor “We made only one mistake over the entire 24-hour race. I didn’t see the yellow flag. I don’t know how it happened. I can still see the scene in my mind, but even then I didn’t notice it. Unfortunately it had serious consequences. Other than the overlooked flag, the rest of race ran perfectly."
Missing a yellow flag is a big deal, because Laurens passed some traffic under yellow, which is a really big no-no. As a result, the team which had been leading by over a lap was awarded a 5-minute stop and hold penalty. That penalty was compounded by the fact that it threw the car off its scheduled fuel strategy. The team tossed Kevin Estre into the car for the final two stints, and he absolutely tore hell apart to find as much time as he could. In the end, they fell short by about 30 seconds of racing, and ceded the victory to the Phoenix Racing Audi, settling for second overall.
It's obvious that Kévin Estre, Michael Christensen, Laurens Vanthoor, and Earl Bamber gave the race their all, but sometimes bad luck happens. This is the team's second 24 hour race in as many weekends, and that's sure to weigh heavy on a driver's focus. With a million things going on in the race, it's possible to miss a single flag stand here and there. It's a shame that it had to happen when it did. Great fight, guys, better luck at the next one.
Check out the full race highlights right here.
Were it not for that penalty, Porsche would surely have won the race outright. As it stands, our favorite German auto maker will have to settle for a mere eight class victories, as shown below.
Class SP9 Pro-Am: (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12) Manthey Racing, Otto Klohs, Matteo Cairoli, Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern
Class AT: (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #320) Team Care for Climate, Thomas von Löwis of Menar, Daniel Schellhaas, Axel Duffner
Class Cup 3: (Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport #310) Team Mathol Racing, Marc Keilwerth, Marcos Adolfo Vazque, Rüdiger Schicht, Montana
Class SP6: (Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport #80) Schmickler Performance, Achim Wawer, Michael Grassl, Ivan Jacoma, Claudius Karch
Class SP7: (Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #62) Mühlner Motorsport, Mark J. Thomas, Sebastian von Gartzen, Moritz Kranz, Marcel Hoppe
Class V3T: (Porsche 718 Cayman S #718) Ralf Zensen, Fabian Peitzmeier, Michael Küke, Edgar Salewsky
Class V5: (Porsche Cayman S #146) FK Performance Motorsport, Fabian Finck, Fabio Grosse, Jens Moetfindt, Yann Munhowen
Class V6: (Porsche 911 Carrera#133) Black Falcon, Christoph Hoffmann, Carsten Palluth, Tobias Wahl, Robert Woodside
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “We demonstrated an extremely good performance over the 24 hours with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. A strong team worked brilliantly and pulled everything together. Luck wasn’t on our side, and two minor mistakes ultimately meant we couldn’t bring home victory. A commendable second place and class win in the Pro-Am – all in all a good weekend for Porsche.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “I think we had the best car and the best crew in the pit lane. We made a mistake and that cost us victory. We spent 5:32 minutes in the pits and lost a good 40 seconds. The shows clearly just how strong we were. Every one of us could have made the mistake that led to this penalty. It’s very hard to see all the slow zones and yellow flags. But such misfortune gives us more motivation to return to the Nürburgring even stronger.”
Nicki Raeder (Manthey-Racing): “It’s hard to take in; somehow a repeat of events. At Le Mans we were leading for a long stretch before a penalty threw us back. And now we have to get over this initial disappointment, because second at this tradition-steeped race at the ‘Ring is an incredible result and should be celebrated. I’m particularly happy that we managed to win the Pro-Am class with Otto Klohs and his boys. We can be proud of that too.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “I’ve never been as disappointed in my racing career as I am today. The entire team gave their utmost, the car was awesome to drive, all our pit stops ran perfectly. We had a real chance of winning today and then a defect as a result of a puncture stopped us. Simply unbelievable.”
Robert Renauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #30): “Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well for us. We sustained the same defect twice, which is very disappointing for everyone, because we were running well without any mistakes. Sometimes luck simply isn’t on your side. Still, it was a lot of fun and great to be a part of Frikadelli Racing.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12): “We’re thrilled with fifth place. We’ve achieved our goal of winning the Pro-Am class. What’s more, we’re really proud that an amateur-category vehicle finished so far up the field – and with a model of the Porsche 911 GT3 R from last year.“
Jörg Bergmeister (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44): “The race didn’t go as we’d hoped. We lost quite a lot of time at the beginning because of the repairs. Our pace improved as the race progressed, which was a positive development. The fact that we flew off the track so close to the end of the race is, of course, very annoying. But that’s racing.”
Lucas Luhr (Porsche 911 GT3 R #8): “We had a few problems early on with the balance and had to change a few details on the car. That improved the situation considerably and, with different tyre compounds, our pace improved. The penalty for a collision in the pit lane was rough. In the meantime, this race has become a sprint and you can’t afford a time penalty of five and a half minutes. This is the first time we’ve competed here as a team and our result is very respectable.”
3. Winkelhock/Haase/Fässler/Rast (D/D/CH/D), Audi R8 LMS, 156 laps
5. Klohs/Kern/Olsen/Cairoli (D/D/N/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 155 laps
12. Slooten/Luhr/De Leener/Jans) (D/D/B/L), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 153 laps
42. Dumas/Campbell/Müller/Jaminet) (F/AUS/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 134 laps
126. Lietz/Makowiecki/Pilet/Tandy (A/F/F/GB), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 61 laps