In pouring rain, the nine-eleven fielded by the Manthey-Racing team took the lead 70 minutes before the end of the race and held onto it to the flag. This marks Porsche’s first victory since 2011 on the legendary long-distance racetrack and hands the brand its twelfth victory.
The Porsche 911 GT3 R (#912) took up the race on Saturday at 15:30 hrs in bright sunshine from sixth on the grid, but fell far behind with a puncture. During the night, the driver line-up of Richard Lietz (A), Patrick Pilet (F), Frédéric Makowiecki (F) and Nick Tandy (GB) caught up to the frontrunners and moved into second place despite a time penalty. When the race was restarted on Sunday after fog halted the race at 13.45 hours, the final driver Frédéric Makowiecki snatched the lead with a masterful overtaking manoeuvre and crossed the finish line in first place after 135 laps.
The Falken Motorsports squad concluded the 24-hour race in Germany’s Eifel region in ninth place. After starting from second on the grid, the #44 Porsche 911 GT3 R managed to remain in the top five for a long time. As rain set in during the night, Klaus Bachler (D), Sven Müller (D), Martin Ragginger (A) and Dirk Werner (D) lost contact to the front pack and were unable to close the gap.
Comments on the race
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (Vice President Motorsport and GT Cars): “That was truly a race of the century, simply indescribable under the circumstances: with the rain, the red flag and that incredible final spurt. At no other endurance race in the world do you get two drivers sprinting against each other for one and a half hours. Fred secured this triumph with his sensational overtaking manoeuvre. We hope that Dr. Wolfgang Porsche is pleased with this belated present for his 75th birthday.”
Sebastian Golz (Project Manager 911 GT3 R): “I’m simply speechless. That was 24 hours of highs and lows. There were problems, we had to fight our way through the field, but we never stopped believing we could do it. This attitude paid off in the end.”
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “It’s unbelievable what we’ve achieved today. We started off with a puncture, fell far behind, but always believed in ourselves. Everyone pulled their weight. Only then is such a victory possible.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “That was one of the most eventful races in my career. We experienced setbacks, but we knew that we had a winning car, a top team and top drivers. The restart towards the end played into our hands and Fred’s final stint was indicative of the entire race. Whenever we needed to, the team, drivers and car delivered a perfect performance.”
Richard Lietz (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “What a race. Everyone worked perfectly and it was a well-deserved victory for the Manthey team and Porsche. And when you think about the bad luck we had, you can say it was also a well-deserved win for us drivers. This victory is also a win for Mr Porsche, who, as a huge motorsport fan, made it all possible.”
Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “That was a tough but completely fair fight for the lead and I’m very happy with this win. Our start with the puncture wasn’t good, but we improved from lap to lap. The car was perfectly setup for dry and wet conditions, so we could push hard to the very end.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “That was once again a typical Eifel race. We started in sun and warm temperatures and finished in rain and fog. Unfortunately we couldn’t keep up with the best teams in the rain, and we couldn’t do better than ninth under these conditions. For me personally, I’ll never forget my fast qualifying lap here. It was the best I’ve ever experienced by now in my motor racing career.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “It’s always a great feeling to race in the Green Hell. Anything can happen here and it usually does. In sunny conditions we could match the pace of the frontrunners, but we didn’t do as well in the rain. The race was incredibly fast and the competition was very high. That’s why ninth place is a good result for us.”
2nd interim report
The Porsche 911 GT3 R with the starting number 912 is maintaining its promising course at the Nürburgring 24-hour race. Manthey-Racing’s 911 is currently running in second place after two-thirds of the race distance. After a puncture cost Richard Lietz (A), Patrick Pilet (F), Frédéric Makowiecki (F) and Nick Tandy (GB) almost four minutes at the beginning of the 24-hour marathon, the quartet launched an impressive pursuit through the field. Even the rain that set in during the night couldn’t halt the charge of the 500 hp racer, which delivered a gripping head-to-head battle against its rivals at the front of the pack.
Bad luck hit the teammates in the #911 sister car. The second of three Manthey-run Porsche 911 GT3 R racers led the field as the pole-setter right from the start of the Eifel classic. During the night the car hit oil, slid from the track and crashed into the barriers, putting an end to the strong, dominant charge of Kévin Estre (F), Romain Dumas (F), Laurens Vanthoor (B) and Earl Bamber (NZ).
Falken Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R (#44) has come through the night unscathed and is running on ninth. The driver crew of Klaus Bachler (D), Sven Müller (D), Martin Ragginger (A) and Dirk Werner (D) is hoping for dry conditions to mount an attack on the leaders.
Patrick Pilet (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “We lost almost four minutes due to the puncture at the beginning of the race. But the car is running very well so we were able to make up ground. Things look good at the moment, but the race is still long and anything can happen here at the Nürburgring.”
Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912), Manthey-Racing: “The conditions are extremely difficult. When the rain lets up, the track is very fast and we can push. But in heavy rain, you’re happy if you can just keep the car on the track. However, our vehicle is very fast in all conditions and we’ve set our sights on victory. That’s why we’re here.”
Sven Müller (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “Things have gone very well so far. We made it through without any problems and we had no incidents or nudges with other vehicles. In the rain, however, we weren’t quite able to maintain the pace to the teams at the front. We’re hoping for dry conditions, then we’ll be able to regain several positions.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911), Manthey-Racing: “The race is going well for us. We were always in the lead and we drove a fast and flawless race. In the end, Romain overtook and unfortunately there was an oil spill in that passage and he lost the car. It’s a bitter pill to swallow but that’s racing.”
Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911), Manthey-Racing: “Romain couldn’t do a thing about the accident. We saw the oil spill in the footage. This retirement is painful. With the pace and advantage that we had, you only get such a chance once in ten years probably.”
Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911), Manthey-Racing: “The Manthey squad have done a great job. The balance of the car was very good, we were fast and we were in the lead. Unfortunately, the accident happened and we had to relinquish a possible victory. But that’s the Nordschleife. We’re now hoping that one of the other fast Porsches makes it to the top of the podium.”
1st interim report
At the long distance classic in Germany’s Eifel region, the Porsche 911 GT3 R racers have made a good start. Start driver Kévin Estre in the Porsche 911 GT3 R (No. 911) fielded by Manthey-Racing managed to defend the pole and now leads the field after three hours. The #44 sister car campaigned by Falken Motorsports, which took up the marathon from the second grid spot, also held its position and is currently making the one-two lead for Porsche perfect. The 911 GT3 R (No. 17) of KÜS Team75 Bernhard is also running in the top ten in sixth.
With more than 200,000 spectators, the Nürburgring 24-hour race is one of the largest motorsport events in the world. At the Eifel classic, more than 500 drivers in 148 cars are competing. With 43 vehicles, Porsche is the most strongly represented marque at the Nürburgring 24 Hours.
Dr Frank-Steffen Walliser (President Motorsport and GT Cars): “We experienced a hectic start and we’re seeing a very fast race under good conditions with the #911 and #44 cars locking out the first two places. The #912 vehicle had bad luck and suffered a slow puncture right at the beginning. But now the pursuit begins. All cars are running well without any technical problems, however the heavy traffic requires a great deal of concentration from all drivers.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911), Manthey-Racing: “My start was good and I managed to maintain the lead. We’re still in front. The balance of the car is great and therefore it’s very fast. I’m optimistic that we can fight for the top no matter what the conditions.”
Dirk Werner (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44), Falken Motorsports: “It was a fantastic experience to start the race, especially with so many fans around the racetrack. Now we need to find our rhythm and drive clean laps. The race, however, is very fast, which is why we have to drive rather aggressively.”
The Porsche customer teams in the SP9 class
Manthey-Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911)
Kévin Estre, Romain Dumas, Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber
Manthey-Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R #912)
Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet, Frédéric Makowiecki, Nick Tandy
Manthey-Racing (Porsche 911 GT3 R #12)
Otto Klohs, Lars Kern, Dennis Olsen, Philipp Frommenwiler
Frikadelli Racing Team (Porsche 911 GT3 R #30)
Lance David Arnold, Alexander Müller, Wolf Henzler, Matt Campbell
Frikadelli Racing Team (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31)
Norbert Siedler, Marco Seefried, Felipe Fernández Laser, Mathieu Jaminet
KÜS Team75 Bernhard (Porsche 911 GT3 R #17)
Michael Christensen, Matteo Cairoli, André Lotterer, Jörg Bergmeister
Falken Motorsports (Porsche 911 GT3 R #44)
Klaus Bachler, Sven Müller, Martin Ragginger, Dirk Werner
Gigaspeed Team GetSpeed Performance (Porsche 911 GT3 R #2)
Steve Jahns, Marek Böckmann, Lucas Luhr, Jan-Erik Slooten