Manthey EMA wins in a nail-biting final against RED BULL TEAM ABT

The opening weekend of the ADAC Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie will go down in the history of the Nordschleife championship. Laurens Vanthoor won the race in the Manthey EMA Porsche 911 GT3 R with a wafer-thin lead of 0.042 seconds over Jordan Pepper in the RED BULL TEAM ABT Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo II. This was the closest finish in the 48-year history of the NLS. The number of spectators at the double-header was also record-breaking. “That was a dream start to the NLS season,” said a delighted VLN Managing Director Mike Jäger. “Two days of thrilling racing action in glorious weather at the Nürburgring in front of a fantastic backdrop – that makes you want more! Many thanks to the participants and fans for making it an unforgettable weekend.”

Even the early stages of the race were a demonstration of GT3 perfection in the Green Hell. The protagonists who played a role in the showdown at the end of the race were already involved here. In addition, the two Mercedes-AMG GT3s from HRT and the two Falken Porsches fought for every centimetre. The six-pack chased through the Green Hell at intervals of just a few seconds until the first pit stop. After that, the leading group pulled apart somewhat due to different strategies. Later on, the battle between Joel Eriksson in the Falken Porsche and Grello driver Vanthoor, who flew around the track in pairs in the fight for overall victory, was also worth watching. After the final pit stop, the Abt-Lamborghini took the lead when the team benefited from the cancellation of a Code 60 phase, which both the Manthey and Falken Porsche had previously driven through at reduced speed. Pepper went into the final lap with a whopping eight-second lead over second-placed Vanthoor. “We would never have been able to make up that gap on the track,” admitted Vanthoor’s team-mate Kévin Estre, even though Vanthoor set the fastest race lap on the final lap in 7:56.473 minutes. Nevertheless, it was a close call in the end, as Pepper did not have enough fuel on board for another lap and literally drove against the running clock to avoid having to complete another lap. The Briton was waved off 1.810 seconds after the end of the four-hour distance – and Vanthoor managed the feat of being 0.042 seconds faster. When accelerating out, the front of the Grello moved forward by a few metres. “I tried everything to keep Laurens behind me right up to the line, but unfortunately it didn’t work out,” said Pepper and his team-mate Kelvin van der Linde was shocked. “I just don’t have the words. This is so bitter!”

The previous day’s winner, Joel Eriksson, completed the podium in third place together with Tim Heinemann at his side in the Falken Porsche. Daniel Juncadella and Frank Bird finished fourth in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mercedes-AMG Team HRT. Thomas Mutsch, Franck Mailleux and Lance David Arnold finished fifth in the Glickenhaus SCG9004c. Hubert Haupt, Dennis Fetzer and Ralf Aron took victory in the SP9 Pro-Am classification in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Team ADVAN x HRT. At the debut of the new Renazzo Motorsport team, Kiki Sak Nana, Christoph Breuer and ‘Dieter Schmidtmann’ took their first class win in the Am category.

The decision in Cup 2 of the Porsche Endurance Trophy Nürburgring was also thrilling right to the end. Just 0.282 seconds separated the top two at the finish. Here, too, the decision was only made in the final metres. In the Tiergarten depression, Tobias Müller in the BLACK FALCON Team 48 LOSCH Porsche 911 GT3 R overtook Peter Terting in the Mühlner Motorsport 911. The gap in the Cup 3 class was clearer, with AVIA W&S Motorsport prevailing over Schmickler Performance powered by Ravenol by 1:58.366 minutes.

Last year’s champions have bad luck for the first time

The champion BMW from Adrenalin Motorsport Team Mainhatten Wheels has been unbeaten in the VT2-R+4WD class for two years – in all NLS races, the 24h Qualifiers and the Eifel Marathon itself. In race two, Daniel Zils, Philipp Leisen and Moran Gott lost a lot of time after a tyre puncture following contact in the Sabine Schmitz bend. “Philipp was forced to limp back into the pits with the punctured tyre,” explained team boss Matthias Unger. “After that, we wanted to send the car back into the race, but the electronics went on strike. Even clearing the fault memory didn’t help.” In the end, the trio finished seventh in the class. Malte Tack, Manfred and Matthias Röss thus celebrated the first Toyota victory in the VT2-R+4WD for TOYO TIRES with Ring Racing.

Ex-Formula 1 drivers enjoyed the challenge of the ‘Green Hell’

Former Formula 1 driver Timo Glock drove both races in the BMW M240i as part of the Up2Race team with the aim of completing the mandatory laps for the Nordschleife permit. “I’ve always had a love of the Nordschleife,” recalls Glock. “I used to drive my private car a lot in tourist traffic.” Now tackling the Green Hell in a racing car was a special experience for Glock. “I’m used to being close to the fans in the DTM, but people get even closer here. They just come into the pits and look at the cars. The whole atmosphere is a lot of fun. But my personal highlight was the formation lap. The many fans in the Green Hell – it’s fantastic.”

Former Formula 1 driver and Toyota works driver Kamui Kobayashi also had a lot of fun at his race premiere at the Nürburgring. “I enjoyed it,” said the Japanese driver. “The Nordschleife is a huge challenge. But it went better from lap to lap. The fact is, I still have a lot to learn.” Kobayashi completed both races of the opening weekend together with his compatriot Kazuto Kotoka in the Toyota Supra Evo GT4. His intention was also to obtain the Nordschleife permit, but he was still cagey about specific goals: “First of all, I want to keep open the possibility of racing in the Green Hell. Only time will tell when that will be the case.”

Races three and four of this year’s ADAC Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie will take place next weekend (13-14 April). The ADAC 24h Nürburgring Qualifiers will provide the protagonists with points for the NLS championship for the first time. The dress rehearsal for the ADAC RAVENOL 24h Nürburgring (30 May to 2 June) will also feature two four-hour races. Tickets for the ADAC Nordrhein event are available at Both races will be livestreamed on the NLS channels.