The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 ended its first 24h race at the Nürburgring with positions six and seven. In the 39th ADAC Zurich 24h race, Kenneth Heyer/Thomas Jäger/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Jan Seyffarth with Black Falcon’s gullwing car came home sixth and were the best customer team with the SLS AMG GT3.
They were followed by Heico Motorsport with drivers Lance David Arnold/Alexander Margaritis/Christopher Brück/Christiaan Frankenhout, who looked like podium finishers and GT3 class winners for 18 hours but dropped to seventh after 150 of the race’s 156 laps. With an excellent performance, three of the near-production gullwing cars had qualified on the first three rows underlining the high potential of performance of the SLS AMG super sports car.
The 24h race over the legendary Nordschleife (north loop) and the Grand Prix track was one of the highlights of the Mercedes-AMG customer sports programme. Eight gullwing cars based on the production Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG which had all been entered by private teams had started the race twice around the clock on Saturday at 16:00 h. Chris Mamerow/Armin Hahne/Pierre Kaffer at the wheel of Mamerow Racing’s gullwing car started from the front row following an excellent qualifying performance.
The race on a drying track was exciting right from the beginning. Chris Mamerow took the lead on lap one, followed by Lance David Arnold in the Heico Motorsport SLS AMG GT3 whilst Thomas Jäger in a gullwing car of Black Falcon followed in fourth place. At the end of the second lap, the leaders pitted for dry tyres. After the first quarter of the race, at 22:00 h, three Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 were among the leading cars and held a triple lead after seven hours: Mamerow Racing ahead of Black Falcon and Heico Motorsport.
At 23:43 h, the Mamerow Racing car retired from the lead, after Armin Hahne who was the driver at this time had an incident with a slower car without own fault at the Hohe Acht corner. Again and again, there was intermittent drizzle in different parts of the track. In these difficult conditions, Black Falcon’s gullwing car with start number 22 was the fastest car in the field short before “half time” of the race.
When two thirds of the race were over, at 8:00 h in the morning, Lance David Arnold/Alexander Margaritis/Christopher Brück/Christiaan Frankenhout in Heico Motorsport’s SLS AMG GT3 held third place. Kenneth Heyer/Thomas Jäger/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Jan Seyffarth were eighth and their Black Falcon team mates Vimal Mehta/Sean Patrick Breslin/Sean Paul Breslin/Stephan Rösler drove in 13th position.
Bernd Schneider, five-times DTM champion and now brand ambassador and test driver for Mercedes-AMG who was also involved in the development of the SLS AMG GT3: “Our customer teams had an optimum preparation for the 24 race which showed already in practice with three gullwing cars qualifying within the top six; so we had hoped for a podium finish. In the end, however, we saw that the Nürburgring 24h race is something special. ;Mamerow Racing retired from the lead without own fault, and Heico Motorsport dropped from third to seventh just 45 minutes from the end of the race; so both teams were hit really hard. This is motor racing. Anyway, the near-production gullwing car was competitive throughout the weekend and was among the fastest cars which really means a lot in this top-class field.”
The results of the AMG customer teams in detail:
Black Falcon, start no. 22, Kenneth Heyer/Thomas Jäger/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Jan Seyffarth: Third on the gird and second fastest SLS AMG GT3 in qualifying. Raced among the top group from the beginning but had to pit at 23:10 h due to a leaking power steering hose. After a 19min break for repairs they were able to continue. The team eventually finished sixth.
Heico Motorsport, start no. 32, Lance David Arnold/Alexander Margaritis/Christopher Brück/Christiaan Frankenhout: Started sixth on the grid. At 4:45 h, their SLS AMG GT3 was hit from behind by another car during a caution period. Therefore, the car did not have a rear diffusor for almost the entire second half of the race which caused increasing tyre wear. 45 minutes from the end, they had to make an unscheduled pitstop to fix a damaged left rear suspension and dropped from third to seventh place.
Black Falcon, start no. 21, Vimal Mehta/Sean Patrick Breslin/Sean Paul Breslin/Stephan Rösler: Improved from 31st on the grid to 11th at the chequered flag.
ROWE RACING, start no. 46, Michael Zehe/Dominik Schwager/Klaus Rader/Mark Bulitt: 22nd on the grid. At 18:30 h, Klaus Rader collided with another car at the Wippermann corner. He pitted with a damaged suspension. The team finally ended up 17th.
Black Falcon, start no. 20, Andrii Lebed/Hannes Plesse/Maik Rosenberg/Ralf Schall: 21st on the grid. Hannes Plesse had an accident at Brünnchen at 23:16 h. The team worked on the car for three hours and they were able to continue – 51st place at the finish line.
Race&Event, start no. 24, Heinz Schmersal/Christoph Koslowski/Eckhard Geulen/Klaus-Dieter Frers: 48th in qualifying. At 1:35 h, they retired after a collision with another car.
ROWE RACING, start no. 36, Alexander Roloff/Roland Rehfeld/Hubert Haupt/Marco Schelpp: Qualifying 13th, the car was removed from the track at Pflanzgarten following a broken suspoension at the left rear on lap four. The team was able to resume after fixing the car; however, after an accident at Bergwerk at 4:39 h the race of Alexander Roloff/Roland Rehfeld/Hubert Haupt/Marco Schelpp was over.
Mamerow Racing, Startnr. 30, Chris Mamerow/Armin Hahne/Pierre Kaffer:
Qualifying second, they were the best gullwing team in qualifying. At 23:43 h, they retired from the lead after an accident.
Source: Daimler AG