Could this have been the craziest finish ever to a Nürburgring 24 Hours? Within a lap of the end, third to fifth places all changed and even as the chequered flag was being readied for the winner two cars were smashed to pieces right on the finish line. This is what a Porsche looks like when crossed with a Renault Clio.
The #11 Manthey Porsche (which had been holding the final podium place) slowed to a halt just after the line despite the leader not yet having taken the flag. As he sat there the #169 Renault Clio flashed down the open straight – and instead of avoiding the static car ploughed straight into the back of the Porsche, critically damaging both cars and spraying debris over the line!
Behind all this chaos, the actual winner was the #3 Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS Ultra, crewed by Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase, Frank Stippler and Markus Winkelhock. They took the win after another Nürburgring 24 Hours that no one was able to truly dominate, crossing the line about a minute after the madness had unfolded in front of them and probably feeling very confused passing the stricken cars.
In a clear second was the #26 Mamerow Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra driven by Christian Mamerow, Christian Abt, Michael Ammermüller and Armin Hahne – they had been fending off the #65 Hankook Team Heico Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG when the Mercedes suffered from an overheating engine. The Merc’s engine let go after he’d barely entered the full Norschleife with just 15 minutes left. The driver carried on for as long as he could with smoke pouring from the engine bay, but was forced to stop out on track with half a lap still to go – a heart-breaking end for the crew.
This turned what had been a tough battle for fourth into a fight for the final podium place: the #11 Wochenspiegel Team Manthey Porsche 911 GT3R had bounced back from minor problems during the early morning to steal fourth position from the #66 Hankook SLS with less than an hour on the clock – which became third on the demise of #65. But with two laps left #66 had closed right back up to the tail of the Porsche.
These two went at it hammer and tongs over the final laps of the race, with the Manthey car under intense pressure, diving past traffic, attacking every rise, jump and kerb and stretching out a small margin on the Grand Prix track that he managed to maintain all the way until Döttinger Höhe. Here Mercedes grunt towed it up to the tail of the 911 and the Porsche weaved to try and break the tow. There were still over 20 seconds to the official end of the 24 Hours, so another lap would have been necessary. Which is when the Porsche slowed just after the line… Were yet to find out the full story of why he did that – and the Clio driver’s story!
The Speedhunters WRT team suffered an overly eventful race, with the contact damage halfway through the race crippling the car and meaning the drivers were always on the back foot from then on. Finally the rear hub bearing broke on the #4 R8, putting it back in the garage with over half an hour to go: the Speedhunters WRT team rolled the car back out for a final slow lap to take the official finish.
2012 Nürbrugring 24 Hours Result
1: #3 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS Ultra 155 laps
2: #26 Mamerow Racing Audi R8 LMS Ultra +3:35s
3: #66 Hankook Team Heico Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG +11:35s
4: #29 Marc VDS BMW Z4 +1 lap
5: #65 Hankook Team Heico Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG +3 laps
6: #2 Phoenix Audi R8 LMS Ultra +4 laps
7: #28 Porsche 911 GT3R +4 laps
8: #19 BMW Team Schubert Z4 +5 laps
9: #20 BMW Team Schubert Z4 +5 laps
10: #21 Rowe Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG +5 laps
TOP CLASS POSITIONS
AT #190 Audi A4
SP2T #100 Peugeot RCZ
SP3 #166 Gazoo
SP3T #133 Subaru Impreze
SP4T #112 Audi TT S
SP5 #106 BMW 1
SP6 #98 BMW Z4
SP7 #150 Kremer Porsche (in the top 20 overall)
SP8 #83 LFA (also in the top 20 overall)
SP8T #123 Nissan GT-R
SP10 #70 BMW M3
V3 #200 GT86
V4 #208 Mercedes-Benz C230
V5 #221 BMW E92
V6 #233 Black Falcon BMW M3