Ferrari is one of the underdogs in the 24 Hours of Nurburgring. But Octane126 managed to take first place ahead of BMW with Luca Ludwig. Two Audis reached the top five. The best Mercedes-AMG car took eighth place, and the fastest Porsche car was only ninth.
The 50th edition of the 24-hour race has already begun writing the first emotional stories in the battle for center stage. Because, of all things, the Ferrari 488 GT3 of the Swiss Octane126 team managed to secure the number one position on the grid as the only fighter. Luca Ludwig allowed her to fly around Nordschleife with a lap time of 8:09.469 minutes in the single time trial and give nearest chaser Augusto Farfus in his Rowe-BMW M4 GT3 (#99) 1.171 seconds with Goodyear tires.
“I would have liked it,” said Ludwig afterward, “but of course you can’t guess.” It’s a very special success for the team, because the car was completely destroyed during the 24 hour qualifying race and had to be rebuilt. “Yesterday we still had setup issues, but now everything has gone well. We are on par with other tire manufacturers, and that will be possible tomorrow.”
Mercedes and Porsche are left behind
Behind Farfus’ Rowe-BMW, which has been traded as one of the favorite cars, another exotic car came to the fore. Jordan Pepper’s Konrad-Lamborghini chasing finished the time in third place, 1.319 seconds behind. South Africa managed to move up to one place in the second round. This is also a huge success for team boss Franz Konrad, because there is no factory support from Lamborghini.
Audi is the 4th power with 4th place. The business-backed Audi Sport Team Car Collection, with Christopher Haas at the wheel (No. 22), took fourth place ahead of fellow brand Jacob Germaziak in Scherer (No. 16). BMW underlined the team’s strong performance with the BMW Junior Team’s 6th and 7th positions (No. 72) and Walkenhorst-BMW on Yokohama tires (No. 101).
At Mercedes and Porsche, the front should be in the lines of concern. Because the best superstar warrior did not pass the eighth place. Luca Stolz had less than two seconds of his best time at Bilstein-Mercedes. Ironically, Huber-Porsche (#25), repaired after an accident until the early hours of the morning, delivered a better 911 GT3 R with Nico Menzel at the wheel. The team competes in the Pro-Am class. Nico Bastian completed the top ten in HRT’s second Bilstein-Mercedes race (#6).
Top-Qual 1 is already closed
In Top Quali 1, 20 drivers were already fighting for one of the four places to be promoted to Top Quali 2. Everyone had two fast laps to do so. Even this first confrontation provided pure drama. In the end, Sheldon van der Linde put the seal on everything. He jumped the Rowe Racing BMW M4 GT3 (#98) to first place with a lap time of 8m and 11.39sec.
Maro Engel gave 1.337 seconds on GetSpeed Mercedes. Only on the second lap was he surprised by this active time. In addition, Mathieu Jaminet made it to Q2 at Toksport WRT Porsche (No. 27). A car no one expected: The Porsche Dynamics car skipped the corner and also fell one lap down with fourth. Pirelli hasn’t been busy developing GT3 class tires on Nordschleife for long. All in all, they were very close and the top five were separated by tenths of a second – mind you, on a lap of 25,378 kilometres.
Some of my favorites off the beaten path
Already in the first section there was a big death for the favorites. This included the Falken Porsches, Schubert BMW (No. 20), KCMG Porsche (No. 18), a factory support Phoenix Audi (No. 15) and an Aston Martin (No. 90). Accordingly, they start the race outside the top 19.
The SCG 004 C from Glickenhaus Racing is a fan favorite, but they were disappointed. Starting number #706 should have given up before Top-Quali 1 started. The rapid rise in water temperature alerted the technicians, so the car was pushed into the garage to be on the safe side and the meeting didn’t even start. Manthey-Porsche (#1) was originally seeded in the first qualifying 2, but did not even participate because you had to start at the end of the first set due to a penalty for a double yellow foul.
On Friday afternoon before the start of the third qualifying session, the Technical Committee changed the balance of performance. Porsche was allowed to unload ten kilograms. For a better comparison of the vehicles’ performance, the rule holders also stipulated that, as in the qualifying race two weeks earlier, the first qualifying should be driven with a full tank. The technical committee then evaluates the data and can also adjust the vehicle classification shortly before the race.
How does the best 24 hour rehabilitation work?
The qualification procedure was briefly explained again: Top-Quali 2 participants are already determined by qualification through the NLS courses and the 24 hour qualifying race. Only four tickets were still available for the showdown at Top Quali 1. In the second-highest qualifier, the top 19 cars competed for first place and the top 19 spots in the grid. Background to this regulation: The goal is to avoid the possibility that the manufacturer will use sandbags in these ways as much as possible.