After an enthralling final phase, Porsche has won the Nürburgring 24 Hours race in the Eifel. In pouring rain, the #912 Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by the Manthey-Racing team took the lead 70 minutes before the end of the race and held onto it to the flag. This marks Porsche’s first victory since 2011 on the legendary long-distance racetrack and hands the brand its 12th victory.
The #912 entry took up the race on Saturday at 15:30 hrs in bright sunshine from sixth on the grid, but fell far behind with a puncture. During the night, the driver line-up of Richard Lietz (AUT), Patrick Pilet (FRA), Frédéric Makowiecki (FRA) and Nick Tandy (GBR) caught up to the frontrunners and moved into second place despite a time penalty. When the race was restarted on Sunday after fog halted the race at 13.45 hours, Makowiecki snatched the lead with a masterful overtaking manoeuvre and crossed the finish line in first place after 135 laps.
The Falken Motorsports squad concluded the 24-hour race in Germany’s Eifel region in ninth place. After starting from second on the grid, the #44 Porsche 911 GT3 R managed to remain in the top five for a long time. As rain set in during the night, Klaus Bachler (GER), Sven Müller (GER), Martin Ragginger (AUT) and Dirk Werner (GER) lost contact to the front pack and were unable to close the gap.
Australian driver and Porsche Young Professional Matt Campbell showed strong pace in his Nürburgring 24 Hours debut, finishing in 11th place overall. His #30 Frikadelli Racing Team Porsche 911 GT3 R ran in the top 10 for much of the race, sitting in eighth when the race was red flagged around lunchtime on Sunday. After the restart, the entry of Campbell (AUS), Wolf Henzler (GER), Alexander Müller (GER) and Lance David Arnold (GER), dropped to 11th, finishing three laps behind the winners.
The Nürburgring 24-hour race is one of the largest motorsport events in the world and this year attracted 210,000 spectators. At the Eifel classic, more than 500 drivers in 148 cars competed. With 43 vehicles, Porsche was the most strongly represented marque at the Eifel marathon.
Comments on the race:
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “That was truly a race of the century, simply indescribable under the circumstances: with the rain, the red flag and that incredible final spurt. At no other endurance race in the world do you get two drivers sprinting against each other for one and a half hours. Fred secured this triumph with his sensational overtaking manoeuvre. We hope that Dr. Wolfgang Porsche is pleased with this belated present for his 75th birthday.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “I’m simply speechless. That was 24 hours of highs and lows. There were problems, we had to fight our way through the field, but we never stopped believing we could do it. This attitude paid off in the end.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “It’s unbelievable what we’ve achieved today. We started off with a puncture, fell far behind, but always believed in ourselves. Everyone pulled their weight. Only then is such a victory possible.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “That was one of the most eventful races in my career. We experienced setbacks, but we knew that we had a winning car, a top team and top drivers. The restart towards the end played into our hands and Fred’s final stint was indicative of the entire race. Whenever we needed to, the team, drivers and car delivered a perfect performance.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “What a race. Everyone worked perfectly and it was a well-deserved victory for the Manthey team and Porsche. And when you think about the bad luck we had, you can say it was also a well-deserved win for us drivers. This victory is also a win for Mr Porsche, who, as a huge motorsport fan, made it all possible.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “That was a tough but completely fair fight for the lead and I’m very happy with this win. Our start with the puncture wasn’t good, but we improved from lap to lap. The car was perfectly setup for dry and wet conditions, so we could push hard to the very end.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “That was once again a typical Eifel race. We started in sun and warm temperatures and finished in rain and fog. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up with the best teams in the rain, and we couldn’t do better than ninth under these conditions. For me personally, I’ll never forget my fast qualifying lap here. It was the best I’ve ever experienced by now in my motor racing career.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “It’s always a great feeling to race in the Green Hell. Anything can happen here and it usually does. In sunny conditions we could match the pace of the frontrunners, but we didn’t do as well in the rain. The race was incredibly fast and the competition was very high. That’s why ninth place is a good result for us.”