Last week’s Gulf 12 Hours marked the end of the sports car racing season, and for Bernd Schneider, it capped off a remarkable year that saw the Mercedes factory driver claim victories in six international endurance races.
The five-time DTM champion champion, who came out of retirement last year, nearly walked away with a clean sweep of wins in 2013, a feat typically unheard of in modern-day auto racing.
Schneider kicked off the year by winning the 24 Hours of Dubai with Black Falcon, before piloting an Erebus Racing Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 to victory in the Bathurst 12 Hour.
The 49-year-old rejoined the German squad to win the Nurburging 24 in May, prior to victories in the 24 Hours of Spa and Blancpain 1000 at the Nurburgring, both with HTP Motorsport.
Friday’s Gulf 12 Hours saw him re-write the record books once again by taking top honors in Black Falcon’s SLS, sharing the wheel with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Khaled Al Qubaisi.
“I still can’t believe it,” Schneider said after claiming victory in Abu Dhabi. “We started in Dubai. I thought already, ‘I won a 24-hour race!’ It was my first one in the SLS.
“Normally, you’d maybe win one every three years. This year, I won three in one year, and two 12-hour races as well. I’m absolutely happy. It can’t be better.”
The only race the Mercedes factory driver didn’t score victory in that he entered was the 12-hour Malaysia Merdeka Endurance Race (MMER) in Sepang, when his Team Petronas SLS suffered engine issues with three hours to go.
Considered to have been the king of DTM from the mid-90s from his retirement in 2008, Schneider says he’s enjoyed his return to racing, in a less pressured environment.
“I guess maybe this is the key,” he said. “I still think there’s some [pressure] on my shoulders, because people expect something. It’s not that much on my side.
“The last two years, I had some bad luck a couple of times. But all of the luck turned back [this] year. It’s just great.”
Schneider will be looking to continue his streak of success next month in Dubai, where he’ll rejoin Black Falcon in quest for the team’s third consecutive 24H Dubai victory.