Phoenix Racing and Audi claimed their second overall Nürburgring 24 victory in the last three years following a flawless run in a record-breaking, and rain-free, ADAC Zurich 24h Race.
Rene Rast took the No. 4 Audi R8 LMS ultra across the line for the win in Germany’s most grueling endurance race, outpacing and outlasting the competition in the ultra-competitive SP9 class for FIA GT3 machinery.
The factory supported Audi squad held control from the early morning hours following a fierce battle with the No. 1 Black Falcon Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 and the No. 20 BMW Sports Trophy Team Schubert BMW Z4 GT3, which all traded the lead throughout the night.
However, penalties for the contending Mercedes and BMW set both of the entries back and gave clear sailing to the No. 4 Audi of Rast and co-drivers Christopher Haase, Christian Mamerow and Markus Winkelhock, which completed a new event distance record of 2,507 miles (159 laps).
Andreas Simonsen brought the Black Falcon Mercedes home in second, finishing three minutes behind the race-winning Audi after an equally trouble-free run. Simonsen shared his gull-winged entry with Jeroen Bleekemolen, Christian Menzel and Lance David Arnold.
The No. 22 Rowe Racing Mercedes of Michael Zehe, Christian Hohenadel, Nico Bastian and Maro Engel completed the podium in third, capitalizing on late-race drama for the No. 20 Schubert BMW, which faced two costly delays.
First, the Merc’s splitter was damaged late in the 21st hour after contact with a Porsche Cayman, which resulted in a one-minute and 32-second penalty. Then, one hour later, Claudia Hurtgen spun the car over curbing at Tiergarten, damaging the steering rack and taking it out of a likely podium finish.
While having lost two laps for repairs, Jens Kingmann crossed the line in sixth, despite a valiant effort by the German to reel in the Darren Turner-driven No. 007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 in the closing laps. Turner recorded a top-five finish for he and co-drivers Stefan Muecke and Pedro Lamy.
The No. 44 Falken Motorsports Porscche 911 GT3 R of Wolf Henzler, Peter Dumbreck, Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori, meanwhile, finished fourth after also contending for the podium before sustaining damage from a suspected tire puncture with less than five hours to go.
This year’s around-the-clock enduro saw its share of attrition, including a number of accidents and near misses around the famed 15-mile Nordschleife circuit.
The No. 3 Phoenix entry of Marc Basseng crashed out in dramatic fashion at Tiergarten early on, with an accident also eliminating the pole-sitting No. 66 Dorr Motorsport McLaren MP4-12C, which led the opening laps.
Both contending Marc VDS Racing BMWs retired overnight after accidents within four laps of each other, while the No. 30 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R GT3 also crashed out.
The No. 8 Haribo Racing Porsche, which was also fighting for a top-five finish, meanwhile, stopped on track with cooling issues with less than six hours to go.
Perhaps the most talked about incident, however, came in the opening hour when Reinhard Schall locked up the brakes of his LPG-powered Chrysler Viper and nearly plowed into a parked course car in a slow-zone. The Viper was excluded from the event by the organizers due to the near miss.
Notable class winners among the 19 categories include the No. 48 Gazoo Racing Lexus IFA (SP8), No. 56 Black Falcon Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (SP7), No. 91 Prosport Performance, Porsche 997 GT3 Cup (SP10 GT4) and the No. 158 Red Camel Racing Seat Leon (AT).
RESULTS: ADAC Zurich 24h Race