First Audi overall victory in the Nürburgring 24 Hours
Erratic weather, an extreme pace, tough competition, bitter setbacks and a great triumph: Audi emerged from a genuine emotional roller-coaster ride as victor of the Nürburgring 24 Hours. In the 40th running of the Eifel classic the brand recorded its first overall victory with the new Audi R8 LMS ultra. The German driver quartet Marc Basseng/Christopher Haase/Frank Stippler/Markus Winkelhock shared driving duties in the car entered by Audi Sport Team Phoenix. Christian Abt/Michael Ammermüller/Armin Hahne/Christian Mamerow from Team Mamerow Racing completed the one-two success.
The competition around the Nordschleife was regarded as a particularly brutal test of endurance this year. The pace of the eight different brands represented in the GT3 class was unusually high, many leading teams were struck by technical defects and numerous accidents whittled the field down still further. While the Audi GT3 race car, which is derived from a production line car, ran technically reliably for 24 hours, the Audi teams did not escape unscathed from accidents either.
In this way, the Audi R8 LMS ultra with start number ‘2’ driven by Christopher Mies at the time was hit by an opponent in the rain while leading. The repairs took 53 minutes and stole any chance of victory from him and his team mates Marcel Fässler and René Rast – they were fifth at the flag. In the night the car with number ‘4’ from Speedhunters Team WRT lost a huge amount of time after a collision with a competitor damaged the steering. The Belgian team finished 32nd. Team Raeder Motorsport held a promising fifth position after 17 hours of racing when Thomas Mutsch was unable to avoid a lapped car as it changed line. After hitting the guardrail any it was impossible to contemplate driving further in start number 9. The Audi race experience finished in 17th place with Christian Bollrath/Pierre Ehret/Peter Venn/Marco Werner. The sister car driven by Luca Cappellari/Florian Gruber/Warren Luff/Alexander Yoong retired due to damage caused in an accident.
In the closing stages the pressure to succeed in the overall classification weighed heavily on the start numbers 3 and 26. Audi Sport Team Phoenix won its home race thanks to a combination of balanced pace, clever driving and reliable pit work. It was overall victory number three for the team from Meuspath and the first with Audi.