An exciting duel on the last metres, best weather and a well-adjusted balance of power – all this was presented at the 68th ADAC Westfalenfahrt to start the new season of the Nürburgring Endurance Series. Dries Vanthoor and Maxime Martin from ROWE RACING were the first to enter their names in this year’s winners’ list with the BMW M4 GT3. The two drivers, who made their debut for BMW, delivered a flawless performance over 28 laps and crossed the finish line after four hours 6.435 seconds ahead of their rivals.
From amongst all of the drivers, Vanthoor had to defend himself exactly against his former brand colleague Kim-Luis Schramm in the Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II in the final minutes. At times, the two were separated by just 1.5 seconds. The challenge became even more tricky for both of them because several Code 60 phases were still to come. Sometimes one of them benefited, sometimes the other. In the end, however, Vanthoor kept a cool head and managed to bring the #99 BMW M4 GT3 home first. The curious thing: the sister car with the #98 was also driven by Vanthoor and Martin and even collected some leading kilometres at the beginning but was temporarily parked in the pits because the team only had these two drivers available.
“Everything was new here for Maxime and me, but the car is great on the Nordschleife,” said Vanthoor. “The Audi behind me was quite strong at the end. Then, on the last lap, I pushed very hard and tried to pull away far enough. With a bit of luck, I was able to open up a bigger gap due to some traffic.”
With the teams in the GT3 field relying on different strategies, the ROWE RACING BMW also didn’t officially take the lead until lap 22. Although the Team Scherer Sport PHX was using the same team tactics, it wasn’t enough for Schramm and his team mate Ricardo Feller in the end. “We lost a bit of time on the last pit stop as well,” said Schramm. ” Also, they were a little faster in total.”
Marcel Marchewicz and Marek Böckmann in the Schnitzelalm Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 crossed the finish line 48.501 seconds behind, thus completing the brand diversity with three manufacturers on the podium. “We worked a lot over the winter, both on the engineering side and we, the drivers, in the simulator,” said Marchewicz. “The part right after the start was spectacular and there were a lot of nice overtaking manoeuvres. It was really fun to drive on the Nordschleife. We both almost drove for our lives today,” said Böckmann. In contrast to the other Mercedes teams, they rely on Goodyear tyres and already achieved fourth place in qualifying with them.
Fourth to sixth places in the race were also decided amongst themselves by Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Audi Sport Team Car Collection finished ahead of the BMW Junior Team and Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein. Behind them followed the models from amongst the newcomers, which were particularly in the focus of the fans. The race debut in the final version of the homologated Porsche 911 GT3 R resulted in seventh place for Manthey EMA ahead of the Evo version of the Lamborghini Huracán entered by Abt Sportsline. The debut for the Ferrari 296 GT3 in the hands of WTM by Rinaldi Racing was also successful with tenth place ahead of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R from Falken Motorsports.
Two of the co-favourites from the GT3 field, though, did not take the chequered flag. These included the BMW M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport, which initially took pole position with Jakub Giermaziak but retired with a puncture shortly before the finish. The second Audi R8 LMS EVO GT3 from Scherer Sport PHX also failed to score a decent result as it suffered an accident.
A view into the classes follows.
The second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Championship will take place on 1 April. The NIMEX 47th DMV 4h Race will run over the classic race distance of four hours. Tickets for the second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series are available for 20 euros (children up to 14 years free of charge) at vln.de/tickets and at the box offices. This will get you into the open grandstands at the Grand Prix circuit, into the exclusive spectator areas Brünnchen and Pflanzgarten as well as into the paddocks, the pit lane, on the starting grid and into the motorsport experience museum ring°werk.