After 2018, Mercedes-AMG is again on the podium of the world’s toughest motor race. In the 47th ADAC Total 24h-Rennen that was held in front of 230,000 fans in perfect outside conditions at the Nürburgring, the #3 BLACK FALCON Mercedes-AMG GT3 secured third place in the overall classification. In a turbulent race, in which retiring favourites, penalties and code 60 phases had their effect on the closing stages, Maximilian Buhk, Hubert Haupt, Thomas Jäger and Luca Stolz (all GER) kept their nerves and secured a podium finish as another prestigious achievement for the performance and sports car brand from Affalterbach. Second place in the Pro-Am classification of the SP9 class for the #18 GetSpeed Performance car and the SP10 class victory by the #70 BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA Mercedes-AMG GT4 round out the result.
The 24-hour race at the Nürburgring had highs and lows in store for Mercedes-AMG. In top qualifying, two Mercedes-AMG GT3s prevailed against the strong competition from the best Nordschleife teams. From the front row of the grid, the #2 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car and the #48 Mercedes-AMG Team MANN-FILTER entry took on the race twice around the clock. During the first half of the race, Adam Christodoulou (GBR), Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Dirk Müller (all GER) managed to rack up 30 laps of the combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife while leading the field. During the night, however, an unfortunate accident forced the candidate for victory to retire from the race.
In the final hours of the 24-hour distance, there were incidents galore at the front of the field. One of the cars that were affected was the MANN-FILTER ‘mamba’ with starting number 48 and drivers Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz, Christian Hohenadel (all GER) and Raffaele Marciello (ITA), who were on course for a podium finish. While lapping another car on Sunday morning, the steering of the #48 car had been damaged. In the subsequent stint, Götz incurred a consequential damage and was unable to avoid an impact of the car into the barriers at ‘Hohe Acht’. Until that moment, the quartet had been able to put the cars in front of them under pressure with consistently fast lap times.
From then on, the #6 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car had the best chances in the battle for victory. Patrick Assenheimer, Nico Bastian (both GER), Yelmer Buurman (NED) and Gabriele Piana (ITA) had started the classic endurance race from sixth on the grid and were able to establish themselves among the front runners with largely trouble-free stints. Four hours before the 24 hours were completed, the quartet was in fourth place with good chances of a top result when an accident took this Mercedes-AMG GT3 out of the race as well.
As several other teams also retired or dropped back in the turbulent final part of the race, the #3 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON and the #16 Team GetSpeed Performance car suddenly found themselves with realistic perspectives of a podium finish. With the GetSpeed Vodafone GT3, Kenneth Heyer, Jan Seyffarth (both GER), Tristan Vautier (FRA) and Renger van der Zande (NED) had established themselves in the top ten with a strong performance. However, technical failure with two hours remaining led to retirement for this team as well.
The BLACK FALCON GT3 with starting number 3 remained unaffected by the ‘curse of the Nordschleife’. Maximilian Buhk, Hubert Haupt, Thomas Jäger and Luca Stolz (all GER) had started the race from eighth place on the grid and managed to defend their top ten position throughout the race. With half an hour remaining, final driver Haupt managed to benefit from a pit stop by an opponent and moved up into third place. After 156 laps, he crossed the finish line and with his podium result, he secured the best classification of the seven Mercedes-AMG GT3s that had taken the start.
The #18 GetSpeed Performance car also brought a strong performance to the finish. Luca Ludwig (GER), Jules Szymkowiak (NED) and the two 24-hour newcomers Fabian Vettel and Philip Ellis (both GER) had started from 14th place and finished the endurance racing classic in seventh place overall. That made the quartet also the second-best combination in the Pro-Am classification of the SP9 class. The GetSpeed sister car, the #17 car with Rooster Rojo J2 Racing design, had to deal with some problems in the opening stages of the race. As the race went on, Janine Hill (GBR), John Shoffner (USA), Markus Palttala (FIN) and Fabian Schiller (GER) managed to make up ground and finished in 14th place.
For the #70 Mercedes-AMG GT4, the race was a very successful affair. In the SP10 class, the BLACK FALCON Team IDENTICA regularly featured in the lead of its class from the 13th hour onwards. In the closing stages, Marek Böckmann (GER), Yannick Mettler (SUI), Tobias Müller (GER) and Tristan Viidas (EST) cemented the top position and finally secured the 24-hour title defence for the GT4 from Affalterbach. In the SP8T class, the #46 BLACK FALCON Team KNUFFI Mercedes-AMG GT4 finished in sixth place.
Tobias Moers, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH: “What a weekend! I have already experienced quite a few thrilling races here in the Eifel. But this year’s 24-hour race undisputedly was one of the most turbulent, not just for Mercedes-AMG. Without any doubt, we have made our mark on this endurance racing classic and staged entertaining motorsport for our fans. It started with the lock-out of the front row of the grid, with which we were able to demonstrate the performance of our Mercedes-AMG GT3 once again in an impressive way. For large parts of the race, our drivers and teams were impressively in contention for the lead, so it is all the more dramatic that they weren’t rewarded for their hard work with victory due to unfortunate retirements. Nevertheless, we have secured a podium finish with the #3 Mercedes-AMG Team BLACK FALCON car, which is obviously making me happy. Congratulations to the winners, who had the necessary bit of luck to claim the overall win today, and our promise to be facing the challenge of the Nürburgring again next year, then with the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 that we have presented this weekend.”
Source: Mercedes-AMG Customer Racing