For a long time, the CarCollection Audi R8 LMS GT3 held the lead – although it was permanently pressurised by the ROWE BMWs M6 GT3. When the rain returned to ‘The Ring’, the different pit-stop rhythm turned out to be an advantage for the BMW squad. Christopher Haase tried to carry the Audi around the circuit on slicks but after three laps he had to pit again to switch to wets. This Nicky Catsburg and his #99 to take the lead. The Audi #3 rejoined the race with a 50-second gap to the new leaders. And at the 23-hour mark he had reduced the gap to less than 20 seconds. So, the battle for the win arguably will be taken down to the final lap! In third and fourth positions, the Audi R8 LMS #1 and the Rowe Racing BMW #98 wait for any chance of moving to the top spot themselves.
The returning rain made for numerous off-track moments. For cars on slicks, racing on the wet tarmac is like driving on ice. Absolutely unimpressed by the difficult conditions is Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus SCG004c. The car has worked its way up to 14th position, in the midst of all the GT3 vehicles.
#3 Audi R8 LMS GT3 (Bortolotti / Frijns / Haase / Winkelhock)
Markus Winkelhock: “This definitely will be a thrilling finale. The track is drying more and more and no extreme weather changes have been forecasted. The colleagues in front of us still have to serve a 30-second time penalty and the BMW behind us is pressurising. All this definitely will make for a thrilling final period.”
#9 Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Schiller / Götz / Buhk / Marciello)
Mirko Bortolotti: “Two exactly exhausting but great stints. Every lap was a qualifying lap. I squeezed the maximum out of the car. A big thank you to the team, we made the right decisions at the perfect points in time. Now we hope that we continue like that and make it to the top, in the end."
12:56hrs: Fabian Schillerhits the crashes into the tyre walls at Hatzenbach.
13:02hrs: Schiller stops with his damaged car at Aremberg.
#18 Porsche 911 GT3 R (Bamber / Bernhard / Bergmeister / Olsen)
Jörg Bergmeister "I wanted to pass a Cayman at Wippermann but he either didn’t see me or didn’t want to see me. The contact unfortunately resulted in a damaged rear tyre what caused as ABS-sensor damage. Therefore, repairing the damage took more time than expected.”
#30 Porsche 911 GT3 R (Abbelen / Siedler / Müller / Renauer)
13:45hrs Bad crash at Pflanzgarten
13:50hrs car has been equipped with a new front spoiler and rejoins the race with Abbelen at the wheel.
#22 Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Heyer / Asch / Jäger / Juncadella)
Sebastian Asch: “We went out in the wet on slicks. It was my first stint on dry-weather tyres. It took me a while to adapt but I think it was the right choice. Nonetheless, we still have got some catch-up work ahead of us.”
#31 Porsche 911 GT3 R (Kern / Jaminet / Martin / Arnold)
That’s bitter in the fight for the win: for having caused a collision the team receives a 1:02-minute time penalty.
Mathieu Jaminet: “The fight was tough. Unfortunately we had opted for the hand-grooved slicks what proved to be the wrong decision as the track was completely dry.
He was on slicks and slightly faster. I tried to defend me, to afterwards attack and re-pass him. We had several contacts but I think that’s close GT racing and what the fans want to see – particularly in the closing stages of the race. I gave my very best and now we will have to wait and see what will happen in the final hours.”
#42 BMW M6 GT3 (Farfus / Klingmann / Tomczyk / Van der Linde)
Jens Klingmann: “The first lap on the slicks was somewhat difficult. It was a true sprint and I pushed wherever possible. After two or three laps, even the areas next to the racing line were dry and you could take slightly more risks while overtaking. Now it’s Augusto’s turn. The 32-second penalty cost us the podium position but now we want to make up for the lost ground and make it to the podium.”