Porsche’s run of bad luck continues with big crashes in Nürburgring 24 hour race

Going into the 24 Hours of the Nürburgring, Porsche had to have been cautiously optimistic. There were a total of eight 911 GT3 Rs taking the green flag for the endurance race from some of the most effective customer teams in the world stacked with some of the greatest driver lineups. To get to the end of the race with six of those cars failing to finish the race, and the highest placed Porsche no better than ninth in class must have been a major disappointment, then. It all started to fall apart pretty early on, as the #29 Porsche of Engelhard, Cairoli, Schandorff, and De Leener lasted just 11 laps of the Nordschliefe and Grand Prix Strecke combined before conking out. The Campbell, Jaminet, and Andlauer #27 car only made it to lap 18 before it was assaulted by a Rowe BMW M3 (which also retired). The biggest disappointment, however, absolutely has to be the loss of the iconic Grello Manthey racing factory-backed entry of Estre, Christensen, Makowiecki, and Vanthoor. This car was fighting at the front, and even held the lead for an hour or so, in the first three hours. As luck would have it, Laurens Vanthoor was fighting hammer and tongs with his brother Dries Vanthoor, who races for Audi, when an attempted overtake went very wrong. You can see the massive shunt that resulted in the tweet below. And wouldn’t you know, Dries Vanthoor went on to win the race about 21 hours later.

The second Dinamic Motorsports car retired with a steering box failure. One Falken Racing Porsche had a crash late in the night and was also marked as out. The KCMG Porsche suffered a massive crash at high speed while running comfortably in the top ten. With six of eight Porsches out of the race altogether, there were just two bullets left in the proverbial gun. The other Falken car went on to finish ninth, safely crossing the line at the end of 24 hours of racing without so much as a scratch. The Huber team also managed to finish the race, grabbing 11th place at the checkers and third in the Pro-Am GT3 category. All in all, it was a very tough day for Porsche, and one they won’t want to remember any time soon. What could have been, fate dashed their ship against the rocks. There’s always next year.

“Our partners did a great job and improved all eight 911s contesting the top class in the lead-up to the race,” says Sebastian Golz, Porsche 911 GT3 R Project Manager. “We were plagued by bad luck on Saturday and Sunday. We lost six cars in accidents, most of which were involved in collisions through no fault of their own. We very clearly witnessed just how strong our GT3 customer teams and our cars were in the race from the top positions of Manthey und Toksport WRT, which makes it all the more disappointing that we weren’t able to turn our competitiveness into a decent result.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #1): “I drove door-to-door with another car and we ran out of room. We touched only slightly but my car was probably hit in the most unfortunate spot. I spun at high speed – game over. I’m okay but it’s incredibly unfortunate for the team.”

Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #27): “We made several modifications to the setup just in time for the race and had an extremely strong car. In the first double stint, Matt put in a brilliant drive and gained a lot of ground. We were in third place and heading for the top. Our car was fast. I wanted to bring the Porsche 911 GT3 R safely and unscathed into the night but then it happened: I was in a duel with a Mercedes when a BMW braked too early for the chicane and crashed into the side of my car. It came out of the blue and there was nothing I could do. It’s such a pity that we retired so early. We had such good chances – so disappointing.”

Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #18): “I have no idea how that could’ve happened. We had always managed to take the right kink onto the Döttinger Höhe at full throttle but suddenly that didn’t work anymore. The tail got twitchy. I tried to countersteer but I wasn’t able to save the car. Our 911 was badly damaged when it hit the barriers. I’m so very sorry for the team.”

Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #33): “All in all it was an extreme race. I had the honour of driving the first stint. The formation lap in front of many thousands of fans around the track gave me goosebumps. It felt like being in front of the grandstands in a football stadium. Things turned crazy in the first two stints. Most of the competitors drove as if it were the last hour of racing. We kept out of any trouble. Then the changeable conditions made things exciting again but we were already a lap down on the leaders. There was nothing we could do so we concentrated on bringing home ninth place.”

Lars Kern (Porsche 911 GT3 R #25): “We got through okay in the end and that’s what we’d planned – we brought our Porsche over the distance without making mistakes. We’re pleased and satisfied with this result. Third place in the Pro-Am class is perfectly fine. Nico and I gave everything we had, Klaus and Joachim also drove solid stints. This, coupled with a clean effort from the entire Huber team, was the key.”

1. Vanthoor/Vervisch/Frijns/K. van der Linde (B/B/NL/RSA), Audi #15, 159 laps
2. Götz/Christodoulou/Schiller (D/GB/D), Mercedes-AMG #3, 159 laps
3. Engel/Gounon/Juncadella (D/F/E), Mercedes-AMG #4, 159 laps
9. Evans/Müller/Pilet/Seefried (NZ/D/F/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #33, 157 laps
11. Menzel/Thyssen/Rader/Kern (D/D/D/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R #25, 156 laps
DNF. Olsen/Tandy/Bamber (N/GB/NZ), Porsche 911 GT3 R #18, 149 laps
DNF. Preining/Legodar/Engelhart/Cairoli (A/F/D/I), Porsche 911 GT3 R #28, 85 laps
DNF. Picariello/Pilet/Bachler/Ragginger (B/F/A/A), Porsche 911 GT3 R #44, 58 laps
DNF. Estre/Christensen/Makowiecki/Vanthoor (F/DK/F/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #1, 22 laps
DNF. Campbell/Jaminet/Andlauer (AUS/F/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R #27, 18 laps
DNF. Engelhart/Cairoli/Schandorff/De Leener (D/I/DK/B), Porsche 911 GT3 R #29, 11 laps

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