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VLN/Nürburgring 24

Manthey Porsche Holds Two Minute-Plus Lead at Halfway

Vanthoor keeping No. 911 Manthey Porsche in commanding spot as N24 reaches halfway…

Photo: Porsche

The No. 911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R held a comfortable 2 minute 40s lead over the No. 48 Mann Filter Mercedes-AMG GT3 as the Nürburgring 24 reached its halfway point.

Laurens Vanthoor was behind the wheel of the Porsche at the conclusion of the 12th hour, having taken over from a double-stinting Michael Christensen.

The Porsche, which Vanthoor and Christensen are co-driving with Kevin Estre and Earl Bamber, has enjoyed free rein at the head of the field since the pole-sitting No. 2 Black Falcon Mercedes retired following an incident midway through the eighth hour.

Its closest challengers have rarely been less than two minutes within reach, with the Mann Filter Mercedes and No. 31 Frikadelli Racing Porsche gaining and losing chunks of time throughout each stint.

The Mercedes was in second as the race hit halfway, after Raffaele Marciello found a way past Romain Dumas during an entertaining scrap between the pair in Hour 12.

Dumas appeared to check up early in front of a Code 60 slow-zone, which enabled Goetz to dart ahead and move the Mercedes into its highest position since the opening lap when it started the race from second.

Marciello subsequently opened up a 55-second advantage over Dumas, who in turn was 54 seconds ahead of Dries Vanthoor in the No. 4 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo at midway.

Vanthoor, who is sharing the Audi with Pierre Kaffer, Frank Stippler and Frederic Vervisch, overtook Nico Bastian in the No. 6 Black Falcon Merc right at the end of the opening half.

In sixth at the milestone was the No. 29 Land-run Audi with Rene Rast behind the wheel; the German driver having also piloted the No. 14 Car Collection R8 earlier in the race.

The first half was marked by several key contenders dropping out of victory contention, including the No. 2 Black Falcon Merc, the Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG003 and the No. 1 Manthey Porsche.

The Glickenhaus lost time to contact repairs, while the 2018-winning Porsche crashed out after clashing with a car in a lower class.

BMW has had a weekend to forget, with four of the manufacturer’s five SP9 cars with all-professional lineups retiring in early stages of the race.

With 12 hours complete, the highest-placed BMW M6 GT3 was the No. 13 Falken Motorsports car in 13th overall.

AMR Performance Centre’s No. 37 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 has established itself at the head of the SP8T class after an accident for its sister No. 36 car promoted it to the lead.

Jamie Chadwick, Peter Cate and Alex Brundle were running 43rd overall at halfway, while the top GT4 car in the field was the No. 70 Black Falcon-entered Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Marek Boeckmann, Yannick Mettler, Tobias Mueller and Tristan Viidas.

The quartet held a three-minute gap to their SP10 rivals in the No. 71 Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 at the start of the second half.

Positions After 12 Hours

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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