Manthey Racing’s drivers were left heartbroken after a penalty from the lead left a near-flawless run in the Nürburgring 24 to go unrewarded.
Kevin Estre, Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber and Michael Christensen finished second in their Manthey-run Porsche 911 GT3 R but had led almost 16 hours of the race with what looked set to be a perfect performance.
They were dealt a 5 minute, 32 second stop-and-hold penalty from the lead with less than three hours remaining when stewards found Vanthoor had exceeded the speed limit in a yellow flag area earlier in the race.
Estre explained that the team had put on an impressive performance during the first 21 hours of the race, leading solidly from 11:10 p.m. all throughout the night until early on Sunday afternoon.
“It was perfect, we had a great car, a really fast car and a great team,” Estre told Sportscar365.
“We had no issues, no contact, nothing. It was perfect, but sometimes, maybe, too perfect, I don’t know.
“It’s also tough to lead this race with two and a half minutes or something because you can’t just take it too easy. It’s very easy to lose one minute if you get a bad Code 60 and the others don’t.
“You have to stay very focused, it’s very hard for the concentration, this race. That might be what happened to Laurens.
“We were leading with quite a margin, he was not pushing at the limit and maybe not 100 percent concentrating. He didn’t see the yellow flags and, in the end, that caused us 5 minutes 32 in the pit lane.”
While the team was visibly devastated with the result post-race, Estre admitted there are important positives to take from their performance.
“We were fast, strategy was perfect, tires worked well,” he said. “Everything was good. I think that’s the positive.
“The one negative is the penalty, otherwise the whole race was perfect. I think it will take a few days, maybe a few weeks, but I think we’ll come back stronger from this and try to win it next year.”
Broken Radio Hindered Slow Zone Communication
Estre explained that the car was suffering from an issue with the radio, meaning the team couldn’t directly communicate to Vanthoor when the slow zone came out.
With no on-dash displays warning drivers of slow zones in this race, Vanthoor’s only way of knowing about a slow zone was by seeing for himself the boards held up by marshals.
“The radio was not working, we had an issue on the radio, that was maybe the only issue,” Estre explained. “They changed it after, so they couldn’t warn him on a Code 60 or double yellow.
“You always have to rely on what you see, but for sure, the radio is helping you. There are some spots where it is very tough to see the flags and that was the case.
“That may be the only issue which we had. For sure, he’s taking the blame and that’s normal, but on the other hand we support him and we know how it is.
“We all do mistakes and we’ll all continue to do some, but it’s just a pity because you don’t get the chance to win this race too often.
“We didn’t bring it back home in first place, which I think was the place we deserved.”