Dinamic Motorsport’s Porsche controlled the first half of the 6 Hours of the Nürburgring after benefiting from a chaotic opening that took out several potential key players.
Engelhart seized the lead at the first corner after contact between pole-sitter Dennis Olsen and Emil Frey Racing’s Albert Costa sent the former’s pole-sitting No. 40 GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R into the gravel and the latter’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo into retirement.
A separate incident occurred at the same time as James Calado’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 ran deep and hit a series of cars before retiring with rear-end damage.
This eventful pair of events triggered the first of three safety cars in the opening half of the race.
Engelhart, who started from second, stayed ahead at the restart in front of Charles Weerts in the No. 32 WRT Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo and Felipe Fraga in the No. 88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo, who started from 11th and 13th respectively.
Fraga then overtook Weerts during the opening hour, while Engelhart had built a 14-second lead by the time of the first pit stops held under green flag conditions.
Sven Mueller took over the leading Dinamic Porsche from Engelhart and extended the No. 54 car’s advantage over AKKA-ASP’s Mercedes, now with Timur Boguslavskiy at the helm, to half a minute by the end of the second hour.
However, the second safety car period of the day – caused by the JP Motorsport Mercedes spinning into the gravel at the chicane – curtailed Dinamic’s break and reduced its lead over AKKA-ASP to four and a half seconds.
The third hour started with Mueller’s newly installed co-driver Matteo Cairoli leading from Fraga, while Patrick Pilet was third in the No. 12 GPX Racing Porsche.
Cairoli had 12s over Fraga when the third safety car of the day occurred, after Dinamic Motorsport Silver Cup driver Mikkel O. Pedersen collided with Rob Collard’s Pro-Am leading No. 77 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini on braking into the chicane.
This interruption fed directly into the third round of stops which saw all of the front-runners come in.
While Cairoli handed the Dinamic car over to Engelhart ahead of the AKKA-ASP Mercedes, Engelhart came through the pits again, seemingly to reset his drive time meter.
However, when the race restarted just before the halfway point, Engelhart dived underneath Boguslavskiy at Turn 1 to restore Dinamic’s position at the front.
Pilet was still third at the time of the third safety car, ahead of Dorian Boccolacci and Christopher Mies in Audis for Sainteloc Racing and Team WRT.
Other cars in contention at halfway included the No. 4 HRT Mercedes, the No. 9 K-PAX Racing Bentley Continental GT3 and the Orange 1 FFF Racing Team Lamborghini.
Barwell Motorsport’s Frederik Schandorff led the Silver Cup field in the opening hour after rising from 17th on the grid to fourth during the hectic opening sequence.
The Danish driver warded off several Pro-class drivers until the latter stages of his stint, after which Alex MacDowall took the reins of the No. 78 Lamborghini.
But MacDowall came under pressure from Tech 1 Racing Lexus driver Aurelien Panis, who made a move for the lead when MacDowall briefly and mysteriously slowed on the run down to the far hairpin halfway through the second hour.
Barwell’s car made an off-sequence pit stop to observe an issue with its Lamborghini, while a separate problem for the Tech 1 Lexus RC F GT3 promoted Garage 59’s Aston Martin Vantage GT3 into the class lead.