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Falken Porsches Sweep N24 Qualifiers

Porsche maintains Nordschleife undefeated streak as Falken wins both N24 Qualifiers…

Photo: Porsche

Falken Motorsports completed a weekend sweep in the N24 Qualifiers, winning both four-hour races and ensuring Porsche remained undefeated at the Nürburgring Nordschleife so far this year.

The No. 44 Porsche 911 GT3 R came out on top on both Saturday and Sunday, with Tim Heinemann and Sven Mueller sharing the spoils in the opening race while Nico Menzel and Martin Ragginger took victory during the second contest.

With the N24 Qualifiers doubling up as a round of the NLS for the first time, the outcome meant that Porsche squads are so far undefeated in the championship this season after victories for Falken and Manthey EMA during NLS1 and NLS2 earlier this month.

The first race on Saturday, which began at 5:30 p.m. CEST (11:30 a.m. EDT) and ran into the darkness, was led in the opening stages by the pair of Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo IIs after they locked out the front row in qualifying.

However, they soon found themselves in the crosshairs of the Falken Porsches, with the No. 44 car in a particularly strong position after extending its opening stint by a lap and thus holding a strategical advantage.

After the car fought its way past both the sister No. 33 machine and the No. 15 Audi, Mueller pressured the No. 16 Audi of Frank Stippler in an attempt to take the lead.

However, the decision fell in the pits when a shorter final stop allowed Mueller to leapfrog ahead of the Audi and take the lead, going on to win.

The Falken squad even looked set for a one-two finish after Bachler, piloting the No. 33 car, was aided by the clearing of a late-race Code 60 and was able to pass Manthey EMA driver Ayhancan Guven on the final lap for second place.

However, it was later determined that co-driver Julien Andlauer had previously performed an overtake under yellow and the car was handed a 32-second penalty.

This dropped Andlauer and Bachler to fifth, with Guven and Thomas Preining promoted back to second aboard the No. 911 Porsche while the No. 16 Audi of Stippler, Christopher Mies and Ricardo Feller completed the overall podium.

Falken revamped its driver lineup for the second race on Sunday, with Andlauer notably unavailable due to clashing commitments with the European Le Mans Series opener at Barcelona.

Instead, Mueller moved across to the No. 33 car alongside Bachler, with the pair joined by Alessio Picariello. Menzel and Ragginger were given driving duties aboard the sister No. 44 machine.

The lineup change did little to slow the Falken Porsches down, leading on Sunday ahead of the pair of Scherer Sport PHX Audis as well as the two ROWE Racing BMW M4 GT3s.

The Hans-Peter Naundorf-led squad in particular put in a better showing during the second race after a difficult Saturday that saw one of its cars retire and the other finish 12th overall.

This time, the No. 98 machine of Maxime Martin, Raffaele Marciello and Marco Wittmann finished in second place, while Guven and Preining completed the podium.

Falken, meanwhile, again saw a potential 1-2 finish fall away after a late retirement for the No. 33 car after Picariello made contact with a backmarker on the penultimate lap.

A shorter final stop had brought the car into podium position in third place, with Picariello closing in on the No. 98 BMW until a collision with the No. 10 Max Kruse Racing VW Golf GTI TCR resulted in race-ending damage.

Dries Vanthoor, Sheldon van der Linde and Augusto Farfus finished fourth aboard the No. 99 ROWE BMW, with the No. 15 Audi of Frederic Vervisch, Christopher Haase and Dennis Marschall completing the top five.

RESULTS: Race 1/Race 2

Davey Euwema is Sportscar365's European Editor. Based in The Netherlands, Euwema covers the FIA World Endurance Championship, European Le Mans Series and Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS, among other series.

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