Audi continues to lead the Nürburgring 24 Hours at the six hour mark, but has borne the brunt of attrition in the SP9 class following two on-track incidents.
Markus Winkelhock took over the race-leading No. 29 Audi Sport Team Land R8 LMS from Kelvin van der Linde on lap 39 and retained the lead through the pitstop sequence for the first time.
The No. 9 WRT Audi of Rene Rast is second, with Alexander Sims promoted to third in the No. 98 ROWE Racing BMW after the No. 22 Wochenspiegel Team Monachu Ferrari 488 came in for its fifth scheduled stop.
However, Audi’s strangehold on the race is considerably weaker than it was a few hours ago, with both the No. 10 WRT and No. 5 Phoenix cars now out of the running.
2015 event winner Nico Mueller was fourth when he was hit by a slow-moving SP3 Clio in the Hatzenbach, which resulted in broken steering and forced his retirement, while Nicolaj Moller-Madsen lost his left-rear tire following a spin at the same section of track while running third.
The Phoenix car rejoined four laps down with Dennis Busch at the wheel following a lengthy repair.
Pierre Kaffer’s No. 28 Land Motorsport Audi was also delayed in the pits as he required a new front-right headlight to be fitted, dropping him to the lower reaches of the top 10.
Further SP9 cars to fall by the wayside include the Bentley Team ABT No. 38, which has been retired after a brake problem caused Jordan Lee Pepper to hit the barriers at turn one, the sister No. 36 Bentley after running out of fuel at Hohe Acht and the No. 11 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini, which caught fire on the Döttinger Höhe.