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Octane 126 Claims Rare Ferrari NLS Victory

Octane 126 claims maiden NLS victory and denies HRT Mercedes double-header sweep…

Photo: Ferrari

The Octane 126 team claimed a rare Ferrari victory in the Nürburgring Langstrecken Serie during the second four-hour race of this weekend’s double-header event.

Bjorn Grossmann overtook Mercedes-AMG Team HRT driver Adam Christodoulou with around 15 minutes left to secure a maiden series victory for the Swiss team.

Grossmann, who shared the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo with Jonathan Hirschi, Simon Trummer and Luca Ludwig, came out of the last pit stops around 10 seconds behind Christodoulou, who won Saturday’s contest with Luca Stolz, Maro Engel and Manuel Metzger.

But after one lap the margin had fallen to just over three seconds, while Grossmann was right on the Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo’s wing the next time by.

Grossmann then seized the lead on the next tour of the Nordschleife and defended resiliently from Christodoulou on the final lap to take the win by just 0.728 seconds.

Octane 126’s result brought Ferrari its first victory in the NLS, which is typically dominated by German brands, since Wochenspiegel Team Monschau won the third round of the 2017 season.

The Ferrari started Sunday’s race from third on the grid in the hands of Jonathan Hirschi, who tailed Engel in the HRT Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo through the opening stint.

The top 10 order then shuffled in the second hour as some teams decided to pit three to four laps earlier than the leaders to get an undercut for the mid-portion of the race.

This phase benefited the No. 5 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo which led for a while in the hands of Frank Stippler, while the two Audi Sport cars also came to the fore.

The lead changed in the third hour when Stippler’s co-driver Vincent Kolb was picked off by Kelvin van der Linde in the No. 29 Audi and Christopher Haase in the No. 32.

Van der Linde pitted his car for the final time on lap 20, leaving Mattia Drudi with an eight-lap run to the flag, while Haase handed over to Mirko Bortolotti a lap later.

But crucially, the HRT Mercedes and the Octane 126 Ferrari, which had worked their way up to sixth and seventh by the last round of stops, managed to stay out until lap 22 and lap 23 respectively, by virtue of them both running at least seven laps in each stint.

This meant their final stops were shorter than the lead Audis, and enabled them to return to the head of the field for the run to the line.

Bortolotti resumed in third and took the checkered flag in that position, earning a podium result for himself, Haase and Markus Winkelhock.

Drudi, on the other hand, was running behind Bortolotti after the Audis swapped places in the pit cycle and the Italian lost two further positions on the final lap.

It was David Pittard who crossed the line fourth in the Walkenhorst BMW M6 GT3 he shared with Christian Krognes, while Raffaele Marciello pipped Drudi on the line to earn a top-five for the No. 2 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes started by Maximilian Goetz.

A further 9.5 seconds back from the No. 29 Audi in seventh was the Team Schnitzer BMW driven by Martin Tomczyk and Sheldon van der Linde, while the No. 17 HRT Mercedes was eighth and the No. 18 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R ninth, ahead of the No. 5 Phoenix Audi.

Huber Motorsport’s Porsche won the Pro-Am class through Marco Holzer, Lorenzo Rocco Di Torrepadula and Patrick Kolb, who also took the victory on Saturday.

Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport took a clear victory in the SP10 class, as Gabriele Piana brought the No. 192 BMW M4 GT4 home almost two minutes up the road from Saturday’s category winner Pixum CFN Team Adrenalin Motorsport.

Muhlner Motorsport won both legs of the first-ever NLS double-header weekend in the all-Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport CUP3 division.

The NLS returns to action on August 1 for another four-hour race, while there are two more rounds to run in preparation for the Nürburgring 24 in September.

RESULTS: ADAC Barbarossapreis

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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