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HTP Motorsport Leads Nürburgring 1000 At Halfway Mark

HTP 1-2 right before safety car deployed at Nürburgring…

Photo: Vincent Wouters

Photo: Vincent Wouters

HTP Motorsport led just before the halfway mark of the Blancpain Endurance Series Nürburgring 1000.

The No. 84 Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 of Bernd Schneider, Nico Verdonck and Harold Primat had an comfortable eight-second lead over the No. 85 Mercedes of Maximilian Buhk, Stef Dusseldorp and Sergei Afanasiev, before safety car was deployed right at the end of the third hour.

The safety car, however, picked up Dusseldorp rather than Schneider, allowing the German to gain another 25 seconds before coming into the pits. Both cars pitted right before the three-hour mark.

Fog and rain hit the Nürburgring in the morning, causing the cancellation of one of the support races and resulting in a safety car start of the race. After 20 minutes green flags were waved and Christopher Mies pulled away instantly.

Contact between Edward Sandström, second in the Pro Cup standings, and the No. 98 ART Grand Prix McLaren resulted in damage for both cars, with the No. 26 Sainteloc Racing Audi R8 LMS ultra effectively out of contention for the title.

At the front McLaren factory driver Kevin Estre was on a mission, rapidly catching the No. 1 Audi. The French driver pushed as if he was in a Blancpain Sprint Series round on a dry circuit and took the lead 30 minutes into the race. They stayed close together for the next half an hour, until the No. 99 McLaren dropped to fifth after the stops.

After the pit stops a charging Alex Buncombe in the No. 80 Nissan GT Academy Team RJN Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3 quickly caught the HTP Motorsport cars, before attacking and passing Cesar Ramos in the Audi on lap 32. The British driver built up a big lead, before handing over the Nissan to Florian Strauss

The Nissan dropped behind the two HTP Motorsport Mercedes, with Bernd Schneider quickly passing teammate Stef Dusseldorp. As the rain intensified Schneider had built an eight-second lead, but then right before the three-hour mark the safety car was deployed and the leaders pitted.

Marcel ten Caat (@marceltencaat) is a contributor to Sportscar365 and other publications including

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