Manthey Racing’s Porsche led the Nürburgring 24 with two hours to go after the front-running cars from ROWE Racing and Haupt Racing Team dropped out of contention.
Philipp Eng led in the No. 1 ROWE Racing BMW M6 GT3 at the restart following a 13-hour overnight red flag due to thick fog.
Eng successfully held off Maro Engel’s No. 4 Haupt Racing Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo into the first corner, with Schubert and No. 98 ROWE BMW drivers Stef Dusseldorop and Martin Tomczyk dropping in behind the leading pair.
HRT’s challenge at the front ended after half an hour when Engel crashed at Tiergarten.
The Mercedes-AMG factory driver slid across the grass on the inside of the right-hander prior to the transition onto the start-finish straight, before clattering the outside barriers.
The HRT car was then struck by the SP3-class Opel Manta, causing a slow zone at that part of the track. The origin of the accident is currently unclear, while Engel walked away.
The accident relieved pressure on Eng in the ROWE BMW, but the Austrian was forced to make a long first pit stop after the restart in accordance with the N24’s red flag rules.
Clarification is forthcoming, however it’s understood that the long service was caused by the team’s stop before the red flag not being recognized because the red flag results were set when the BMW crossed the start-finish line on pit entry.
This meant Eng’s minimum pit stop time after the restart was calculated for a 14-lap stint, rather than the six-lap stint he had completed since the return to racing. ROWE then retired its 2020-winning car with what BMW described as a “technical issue”.
The pit delay transformed the order, with Michael Christensen taking the lead of the race in the No. 911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R that was restarted by Kevin Estre.
Christensen was running ahead of Tomczyk’s co-driver Sheldon van der Linde and Rutronik Racing Porsche driver Laurens Vanthoor until second and third place pitted with two hours to go.
Kelvin van der Linde overtook BMW Junior Team driver Neil Verhagen at Turn 1 before profiting from a Josh Burdon spin at Hatzenbach to put Audi Sport Team Land in fourth.
Shortly before the hour mark Verhagen was fifth, from Nico Mueller in the Audi Sport Team Car Collection R8 LMS GT3 Evo and Lance David Arnold in the No. 33 Falken Motorsports Porsche, which had emerged unscathed from an earlier spin for Thomas Preining.
Phoenix Racing’s No. 11 privateer Audi fell out of podium contention in the first hour following the restart after Michele Beretta received a tap from Mercedes-AMG Team GetSpeed driver Raffaele Marciello exiting the Karussell.
This contact resulted in left-rear damage on the Audi, causing Beretta to rotate into the barriers at the Hohe Acht right-hander.