Every year, ahead of the massively anticipated Nürburgring 24 hour race, the track plays host to a much shorter 6-hour race which will effectively set the grid for the 24. Yes, that’s right, it’s technically a 6-hour qualifying session. But you know what? Porsche won qualifying in a really big way. Frikadelli Racing took the qualifying race victory on Sunday with Dennis Olsen, Maxime Martin, Fred Makowiecki, and Patrick Pilet sharing the driving duties across the event. The quartet of drivers managed to turn in 41 laps of the massive 25.378 kilometer combination GP Strecke/Nordschleife circuit during the race, which is mightily impressive.
Not only did Porsche cross the line in first, but there was another Manthey Racing-entered Porsche in second place, and a second Frikadelli car in third (Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet, Nick Tandy, and Earl Bamber). The so-called Grello-colored Manthey car of Matteo Cairoli, Lars Kern, and Michael Christensen was unfortunately handed a time penalty after the finish, relegating that car from second to fifth, however, and promoting Frikadelli into a 1-2 team finish.
This event was the final real test for the 24 Hour, and it’s fair to say Porsche’s 911 GT3 R absolutely aced it. Porsche works driver Romain Dumas took the start of the race from pole, as teammate Julien Andlauer absolutely beasted the top-30 shootout qualifying session. Dumas, however, was tipped into a spin on lap one, losing lots of time on track. As a result of that spin, Makowiecki inherited second place, and on lap 12 his 911 GT3 R took the lead for the first time. When Patrick Pilet stepped into the car, he spent much of his stint being hounded by an Audi R8, but an argument about track space with a lapped car cost the Audi valuable seconds, extending Pilet’s lead.
An off-sequence pit stop put the Manthey Racing 911 on top after 30 laps of the race, but Olsen re-took the lead for Frikadelli with a later stop which meant his pit stop could be shorter. Failure to slow for a yellow flag cost the Manthey car a podium place with a penalty served for over a minute. A total of eight 911 GT3 R cars took the start of the race, amid a stacked dozens-deep SP9 category packed with factory-supported racers and cars.
If you’d like, you can watch the full 6-hour race below on YouTube.
Comments after the race
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R): “Our teams did an extremely good job, and the qualifying race procedures were great. We made virtually no mistakes, and with one small exception, the pit stop times were satisfactory. Unfortunately, the penalty handed to the Manthey-Racing cost them their second place – but it’s better that such things happen during the preparation than at the 24-hour season highlight at the Nürburgring. In terms of performance, things look positive for us. Finishing in first and second is great, even if the competition put us under a lot of pressure, especially during the second half of the race. There’s not a lot of homework to do now, we’re feeling well prepared.”
Fred Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “That was another great result for the team and excellent preparation for the 24-hour race. But now we have a lot of analysing to do because this was the first time we could try all tyre compounds in warm conditions. We also have to keep an eye on our rivals because they came very close – and that promises an interesting fight.”
Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #30): “Like last weekend in the Nürburgring Endurance Series, we achieved a one-two result, only this time in reverse order and with victory going to the number 31 car. That was a mega performance from the team and very good preparation for the 24-hour race next month. I’m happy. We took up the race from 13th on the grid, managed to fight our way up to third place and now we’re even second.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “That wasn’t an easy weekend for us, so we would’ve been happy with second place. We kept changing the setup between stints, drove on different tyre compounds and tried everything to achieve a good result here. Fifth is a shame, obviously, and doesn’t reflect our pace. But I too have made such a mistake – overtaking under yellow – in the past. I think we’re well sorted for the 24-hour race.”
1. Pilet/Makowiecki/Martin/Olsen (F/F/B/N), Porsche 911 GT3 R #31, 41 laps
2. Jaminet/Tandy/Bamber/Campbell (F/GB/NZ/AUS), Porsche 911 GT3 R #30, 41 laps
5. Cairoli/Kern/Christensen (ITA/D/DK), Porsche 911 GT3 R #911, 41 laps
6. Bachler/Ragginger/S. Müller/Arnold (AUT/AUT/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #44, 41 laps
10. Imperatori/Burdon/Liberati/Holzer (CH/AUS/ITA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #18, 41 laps
13. Dumas/Andlauer/T. Müller/Viidas (F/F/D/EST), Porsche 911 GT3 R #3, 41 laps
20. Bachler/Werner/Preining/Picariello (AUT/D/AUT/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #33, 41 laps
22. Neuffer/Aust/Menzel/Seefried (D/D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #23, 41 laps