It was a Mercedes-AMG year at the 44th edition of the Nurburgring 24 Hours this weekend, cleaning the whole podium with three Mercedes-AMG GT3s. Even more, these new GT racers from Affalterbach dominated the race from start to finish. The teams in questions were Black Falcon, Haribo Racing Team, HTP Motorsport and ZakSpeed.
Black Falcon repeated their 2013 victory by triumphing in this year’s race with the #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Bernd Schneider, Maro Engel, Adam Christodoulou and Manuel Metzger. They shared the podium with P2 finishers HTP Motorsport #29 AMG GT3 car that was piloted by DTM star Christian Vietoris, Marco Seefried, Christian Hohenadel Christian and Renger Van der Zande. Haribo Racing Team with the #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Uwe Alzen, Arnold Lance David, Maximilian Götz and Jan Seyffarth locked the full podium for Mercedes-AMG with a P3 finish.
2016 Nurburgring 24 Hours Results (Overall)
1. Black Falcon – #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3
2. HTP Motorsport – #29 Mercedes-AMG GT3
3. Haribo Racing – #88 Mercedes-AMG GT3
4. Black Falcon – #9 Mercedes-AMG GT3
5. Rowe Racing – #23 BMW M6 GT3
6. Team WRT – #2 Audi R8 LMS
7. C ABT Racing – #38 Bentley Continental GT3
8. ZakSpeed – #75 Mercedes-AMG GT3
9. Falken Motorsport – #44 Porsche 911 GT3 R
10. Twin Busch Motorsport – #16 Audi R8 LMS
Mercedes-AMG thus had five cars in the top ten, ending Audi’s streak of domination that has ruled for the past two years. The best placed Audi was the #2 car of Team WRT with a P6 finish overall. Rowe Racing showed the true pace of the new BMW M6 GT3 as well, the car has only had a few long career runs starting with Daytona 24 earlier in January which never went so well, but performance spiked up soon as the Blancpain GT Series kicked. Rowe’s #23 M6 GT3 scored a well deserved P5 finish, the best ever performance for the new GT racer.
Bentley’s new Boys from C ABT Racing are not new the Nurburgring at all, with a team comprising of favorites such as Guy Smith, this team had what it takes to win a race at the Green Hell. They completed the race in seventh place overall, which isn’t bad at all for the Bentley Continental GT3 which has already proven its reliability in endurance races during the previous season. The best placed Porsche was the #44 GT3 R from Falken Motorsport, a new car for the team which also hosted a drifting show on Friday night, they finished 9th overall.
For Black Falcon driver Bernd Schneider, this was his second win at the Nurburgring 24 Hours. He won the race back in 2013, then driving a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3. After the race, Schneider said:
“Incredible that Maro succeeded in making it. I’m lost for words. A just phenomenal feeling. I hadn’t believed that we would be able to turn the table. But I think we deserved it. We had a good race from the lights to the flag. I am giddy with excitement.”
The race lead changed 32 times, mostly between the top Mercedes drivers, the two Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3s, Schubert Motorsport M6 GT3 and the Manthey Porsche 911 GT3.
Of course the highlight of this year’s race was the mayhem witnessed some 50 minutes after the start on Saturday afternoon. Hailstorm struck the track making it impossible for the cars to venture through, the footage below reveals how flooded some sections of the track were, resulting to unstoppable crashes and eventually causing the race to be red flag. The red flag session lasted for 3-4 hours before the race was restarted at 19:20 hours.
Markus Palttala held the lead after restart in the #22 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3, behind him was HTP Motorsport Mercedes and the two Haribo Racing AMG GT3s. Haribo managed to put their two cars in the lead after seven hours of racing, with the #912 Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 R in third. One Manthey Porsche retired in the early hours, joined by the #18 Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 which was an early contender for the overall win.
Mercedes had now filled the top four places after nine hours of racing, with Haribo in front with the #88 AMG GT3 followed by Black Falcon’s #9 and two HTP Motorsport cars. With five hours left into the race, Black Falcon had moved to the lead with their #4 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and were leading 3 other similar cars from the aforementioned teams. The last Schubert Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 retired from the race after a collision while lapping another car.