Porsche 911 GT3 R, Rutronik Racing (#96), Dennis Olsen (N), Matteo Cairoli (I), Julien Andlauer (F)
Flawless drives advance Rutronik Racing’s 911 GT3 R to fifth place
No. 44 Porsche from Falken Motorsports in eighth despite spin
Huber Motorsport defends its top 15 position
High speed on the track takes its toll with multiple retirements
As the night draws to an end, two Porsche 911 GT3 R have maintained contact with the leaders at the 24-hour highlight on the Nürburgring. After 18 hours of racing, Rutronik Racing lies in fifth place with the 911 helmed by Dennis Olsen, Matteo Cairoli and Julien Andlauer. Falken Motorsports is currently running in eighth place with the GT3 vehicle shared by Nico Menzel, Tim Heinemann, Joel Eriksson and Martin Ragginger. Both vehicles are still on the same lap as the leaders.
The cool, dry night at the Nürburgring brought numerous setbacks. At daybreak, three of the seven customer-run 911 GT3 R still had a chance of finishing among the frontrunners. In addition to the cars fielded by Rutronik Racing and Falken Motorsports, Huber Motorsport’s 911 was also running in the top 15. Sharing driving duties in the No. 25 car are the works driver Romain Dumas from France, the two Germans Lars Kern and Dennis Fetzer as well as Frenchman Côme Ledogar.
However, the blistering speed of the race on the 25.378-kilometre combination of the historic Nordschleife and the original layout of the Grand Prix circuit took its toll right from the start. First, Manthey EMA suffered a setback with its so-called “Grello”. After an impressive charge from 20th on the grid, the Frenchman Kévin Estre was back in eighth place, only to have a puncture cause him to slide into the tyre barrier at the end of his second stint. However, after the repairs were completed, the team was unable to solve the ongoing problems on the left rear wheel. At 1.30 a.m. on Sunday morning, Manthey EMA withdrew the vehicle driven by Estre and his works driver teammates Michael Christensen (Denmark), Frédéric Makowiecki (France) and Thomas Preining (Austria) for safety reasons. By this time, the No. 24 entry from Lionspeed by Car Collection was already out of the race. After lengthy repairs when Matt Campbell slid off the track, the team called it quits after a good two and a half hours.
In the first third of the race, the No. 44 Porsche campaigned by Falken Motorsports defended its position as the best-placed Porsche. For a brief time, the 911 GT3 RS driven by Austria’s Martin Ragginger, Joel Eriksson (Sweden) and the two Germans Nico Menzel and Tim Heinemann held third place. At around midnight, bad luck hit the quartet: While lapping a slower car in the Flugplatz section of the track, Heinemann slid into the tyre barrier. Including the pit stop, the GT3 car fell back to P14 behind the No. 33 sister car but was back in eighth place by eight o’clock the next morning.
At around 3:30 a.m., the Falken Porsche driven by Sven Müller (Germany), Klaus Bachler (Austria) and the Belgian Alessio Picariello was also hit by a slower vehicle, which shunted it into guardrail. After repairs were made, the team rejoined the race, only to call the car into the pits for good 90 minutes later. For the No. 54 Porsche from Dinamic GT, the race was over at 4:45 a.m. after a hefty collision in the Bellof-S area. Driver Laurin Heinrich was released from the medical centre after a routine check.
“We already lost four out of seven cars before the final third of the race,” Sebastian Golz sums up. The Porsche 911 GT3 R project manager adds: “The shock of the accident between the Dinamic GT car and the Dacia is still fresh in our minds. We’re very relieved that our driver Laurin Heinrich and the driver of the Dacia are doing well so far. Now, we’re concentrating on the three nine-elevens still in the race. The Porsches from Rutronik Racing, Falken and Huber are currently running well. We’ll have to wait and see how our performance develops as temperatures rise. Hopefully, we can fight for a top-five result.”
Drivers’ comments after 18 hours Nico Menzel (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44): “I drove a double stint from the night into the day. A lot was happening on the track and risk management wasn’t always easy: If you took the risk, you could make up a massive amount of time - or you could destroy the car. We were at our limit and within the top 10, which is a realistic position for us. Cool temperatures suit us better. When it gets warmer, we have to look after the rear tyres. Overall, we got the Porsche over the distance quite well. Tim hit a curb briefly during the night while lapping other drivers, lost the car and did a 360-degree spin. This also resulted in his car nudging the guardrail, which unfortunately caused a puncture. But the repair only cost us three and a half, maximum four minutes. The guys did a great job. We’re going all-out now. Maybe we can still clinch a top-five result.”
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #96): “Overall, I’m pretty happy because we got through the night well - the car is in one piece and we’re unscathed. The cooler temperatures suited our set-up philosophy and improved our competitiveness. If it gets warmer again now, we may suffer. The Porsche drives like it’s on rails, which boosts our confidence behind the wheel. The engineers have made the right decisions and our mechanics are doing a great job during the pit stops. Everything is going according to plan so far. Only on the straights do we lack the top speed to be able to continue fighting at the front. We’re currently in the top five, so maybe we can still make up a position or two.”
Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT 3 R #25): “The night stints were okay. We ran the softer tyre compound, which made the car feel better to me. So far everything is going well, we just needed to find our direction and the right air pressure at the beginning.”
Full results on: https://www.24h-rennen.de/ergebnisse/
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