As I write this post the race is still continuing, so let's have a quick look at the first half of the run twice round the clock.
4.00pm yesterday, Dirk Adorf took full advantage of his team's pole position to outdrag the opposition in the Reader Automotive Ford GT. For the next 50 minutes he kept his orange and white rumbler in front of Marc Lieb in the hot race favorite, the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR of Manthey Racing.
The battle was played out in front of an enthusiastic and well refreshed crowd totalling 235,000 according to the organisers. It certainly seemed that some huge number managed to squeeze onto the grid.
They were treated to a high speed battle between the leaders for some 50 minutes until the Ford tripped over a backmarker, hardly surprising given 170 starters on the narrow confines of Nurburgring.
These two Audi R8 LMS had varying fortunes. 97 was 4th, chasing its team mate and the the two lead Manthey Porsches. 98 had a stop and go penalty, dropping it down the order.
The battle for the lead was then between the number 1 Manthey Porsche crewed by Timo Bernhardt, Marc Lieb, Roman Dumas and Marcel Tiemann. The Audi charge was lead by Phoenix Racing car number 99 and their drivers, Marc Basseng, Marcel Fassler, Mike Rockenfeller and Frank Stippler, there was little to choose between the two topline efforts.
The crowd at the Nurburgring 24 Hours are a special breed. Their lives seem to revolve entirely around getting close to the action, making noise and of course, drinking beer.
The nature of the track and the multiple classes means lots of action all the time, despite the ten minute lap time.
The race has always encouraged entries that might at first though be considered completely unsuitable for racing. An Audi V8, 1990 vintage, might seem a strange choice but it sums up the spirit of the race which combines a mix of top professional teams and drivers, with pure amateur efforts such as this elderly Audi……….and of course there is every shade inbetween.
One other important Nurburgring 24 tradition involves always getting the car back into the action if at all possible. So if the car cannot make it back to the pits, the pits will come to them. Here the Michael Tischner BMW M3 gets a new prop-shaft, while trackside at Brunnchen………and yes they were back in the race within an hour. The effort in dragging the tools and spares up as fifty foot steep bank, then working on the car is hard to imagine. The mechanics deserve maximum respect.
So the race is finely balanced between Porsche and Audi…………who will win? It really is too close to call.
Another less welcome Nurburgring tradition is the plain fact that if you have an accident, the speed and the narrowness of the track will conspire to make it a big one. Matthew Marsh encountered a problem flat in third while mid corner at Brunnchen…………you can see the results, the Porsche 996 GT3 is junk but thankfully he was just shaken and quite possibly stirred…………the Nordschleife is that kind of place.