The 21-year-old Frenchman lapped the 25.378-kilometre circuit in 10:14.558 minutes. The identical vehicles fielded by Manthey (#911) and Frikadelli Racing (#31) head into the popular endurance race in the Eifel from positions eleven and twelve on Saturday afternoon at 3:30 pm.
The five Porsche 911 GT3 R campaigned by Frikadelli Racing, Manthey, Huber Motorsport and Rutronik had already earned a nomination for the final shootout for the top-20 grid spots thanks to their strong performances in the qualifying race and at two rounds of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS; formerly VLN). The customer squads KCMG and Falken Motorsports still had a chance in the Top-Qualifying 1 to secure a place in the individual time trials. However, their mission was foiled shortly before heavy rain and a thunderstorm set in. The number 18 car starts from P26, with Falken’s two 911 heading into the race from positions 28 and 29.
The decisive second part of the Top Qualifying was postponed by 30 minutes due to the torrential rain. With a lot of water on the track, the drivers struggled with a lack of grip and aquaplaning. While Andlauer turned a clean lap at the wheel of the No. 3 car, Kévin Estre spun during his second and final flying lap in the Adenauer forest and hit the barriers. The Frenchman managed to return to the pits with minor damages to his car. Matt Campbell also experienced misfortune. In the Bergwerk section, the Australian works driver ended up in the barriers with Frikadelli Racing’s No. 3 car and had to abandon his qualifying attempt, while his teammate Dennis Olsen from Norway qualified the sister car on P12. Nico Menzel planted Huber Motorsport’s 911 on position 15.
“It’s a sobering result from our perspective,” concludes Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “On the wet track, we were too far off the frontrunners with all of our customer cars. We need to take a close look at the data to see why we didn’t get the tyres up to the optimal operating window under these conditions. We’ll now delve deeper to find a solution before the race starts so that we’ll be competitive even if the track is wet.”
Drivers’ comments on the qualifying
Julien Andlauer (Porsche 911 GT3 R #3): “That was the first time I’ve ever driven on the Nordschleife in rain, so I had no idea what to expect over the long lap. I cautiously felt my way and gained more and more confidence in the car. I wanted to pick up the pace on the second lap but I was hampered by traffic. All in all, I’m very happy because I was the fastest driver in a Porsche 911 GT3 R. I would never have expected that.”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “That was anything but easy. On my first hot lap, everyone was aquaplaning and I got stuck behind an Audi that sprayed up a lot of water. The visibility was incredibly bad. On the second lap, I was on track to improve my time but then I spun. The car sustained minor damages. P11 is not ideal, but it’s not the end of the world either. Our car will definitely be strong in the race.”
Dennis Olsen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #31): “That was no fun at all. It was a tough fight to even keep the car on the track. When braking for the corners, the vehicle kept sliding straight ahead. Every corner was a nail-biter. Still, I managed to turn my laps without hitting anything. I simply didn’t want to take any unnecessary risks because it wouldn’t be good to leave a pile of scrap metal behind. Position twelve is okay. We’ll go all-out in the race.”
Grid positions of the Porsche 911 GT3 R
9. Dumas/Andlauer/L. Vanthoor/T. Müller (F/F/B/D), Rutronik #3
11. Estre/Cairoli/Christensen/Kern (F/I/DK/D), Manthey #911
12. Pilet/Makowiecki/Martin/Olsen (F/F/B/N), Frikadelli Racing #31
15. Neuffer/Aust/N. Menzel/Seefried (D/D/D/D), Huber Motorsport #23
18. Jaminet/Tandy/Bamber/Campbell (F/GB/NZ/AUS), Frikadelli Racing #30
26. Imperatori/Burdon/Liberati/Holzer (CH/AUS/I/D), KCMG #18
28. Bachler/Werner/Preining/Arnold (A/D/A/D), Falken Motorsports #33
29. Bachler/Ragginger/S. Müller/Picariello (A/A/D/B), Falken Motorsports #44
Porsche customer teams tackle the Nürburgring 24-hour race with a large contingent of around 38 vehicles in ten different classes. The famed Eifel marathon has been contested since 1970 and is considered one of the world’s toughest motor racing challenges. No less than eight Porsche 911 GT3 R fielded by six squads take on the top SP9 class to fight for overall victory at the long-distance classic, which gets underway on 5 June at 3:30 pm (CEST). One lap of the racetrack consists of a 25.378-kilometre combination of the Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuit. The odds look good for a Porsche to clinch the 13th win at the Nürburgring. The customer team Frikadelli Racing has clearly underlined the huge potential of the 500+hp GT3 racer from Weissach with a one-two result at the qualification race. The squad from Barweiler, a village just a stone’s throw from the Nürburgring, campaigns two vehicles helmed by three works drivers from the Porsche squad as well as five other Nordschleife specialists.
At the 49th edition of the tradition-steeped race, Falken Motorsports also fields a pair of 911 GT3 R, with a driver line-up that includes factory driver Thomas Preining from Austria. The customer teams Huber Motorsport, Rutronik Racing and KCMG each run one GT3 vehicle from Weissach. With six outright victories to its credit, Manthey-Racing is the most successful outfit at the 24-hour marathon in Germany’s hilly Eifel region and competes with the famous yellow and green “Grello” vehicle with the starting number 911. Works driver Kévin Estre from France is one of the drivers for the squad, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year.
Porsche makes up the largest contingent on the grid
Every year, the 24-hour race on the 25.378-kilometre combination of the Nordschleife and Grand Prix circuit is a highlight on the Eifel racing calendar. This year, around 125 cars in 24 class divisions have registered. “With almost 40 vehicles on this year’s grid line-up, Porsche is once again the most strongly represented brand. This once again emphasises the trust that customers have in our racing cars and our service,” says Michael Dreiser, Director Motorsport Sales. “We’re absolutely delighted and I’d like to thank them all very much for this. The performance and reliability of the cars are important factors on the way to possible success on the Nordschleife – and the rest is up to the drivers and teams. I’m certain that our customers are well prepared for the tough task ahead.”
“The season couldn’t have started better: three wins from three races,” states Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R, referring to the first two rounds of the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS; known as VLN until 2019) as well as the qualification race for the 24-hour classic. “The results clearly show that the work invested by the teams, drivers and Porsche is heading in the right direction. Still, we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. On the contrary: With extra test kilometres and a lot of creative ideas, we travel to the Eifel feeling positive. In conjunction with our experienced customer teams, we’ll do everything we can to continue our winning streak this season.”
Porsche’s history at the 24-hour race
Porsche’s success story at the Eifel classic, which has been held since 1970, has so far included twelve overall victories. In 1976, Fritz Müller, Herbert Hechler and Karl-Heinz Quirin clinched the first victory for the Stuttgart sports car manufacturer at the wheel of a Porsche 911 Carrera 3.0. In the two following years, the 911 Carrera RS proved unbeatable. In 1988, Dören Motorsport was the fastest with a 911 Carrera RSR. Five years later, Konrad Motorsport triumphed. In 2000, Phoenix Racing won with a 911 GT3 R, with Manthey-Racing starting its unprecedented winning streak soon after. From 2006 to 2009, the team from Meuspath near the Nürburgring secured four outright victories in a row. Two more victories followed in 2011 and 2018. Thanks to six overall wins, Manthey-Racing is the most successful squad at the Nürburgring 24-hour race.