Porsche claimed its 13th win at the ADAC TOTAL 24h-Rennen Nürburgring (Nürburgring 24 Hours) with works drivers Kévin Estre, former karting star Michael Christensen and Matteo Cairoli onboard the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R in another classic race at the Green Hell.
For Estre and Christensen, it marked a maiden win at the legendary Nordschleife endurance race, adding to the list of iconic events and titles claimed by the incredible duo including the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship and the TOTAL 24 Hours of Spa. For the German team, it was a seventh victory, extending its tally as the event’s most successful outfit while also celebrating its 25th anniversary.
One of the world’s most challenging races on the high-speed 25-kilometre circuit was made all the more complicated by the arrival of rain early on. Despite this, Estre charged from 11th on the grid to claim the lead in his opening stint, but was running in sixth when the red flags were shown due to heavy fog at the six-hour mark. It wasn’t for another 14 hours that the race, now the shortest Nürburgring 24 Hours ever, would resume with visibility still limited.
Again, the trio worked through the pack, taking the lead with approximately two-and-a-half hours remaining.
Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver Alessio Picariello made his Nürburgring 24 Hours debut and was fourth in the #44 Falken Motorsports car alongside Klaus Bachler, Porsche Carrera Cup Asia race winner Martin Ragginger and Porsche works driver Sven Müller.
Alongside the sister #33 Falken Motorsports and the #23 Huber Motorsport machines, four Porsche 911 GT3 R were in the top 10 at the chequered flag, the most of any manufacturer.
Huber Motorsport took the SP9 Pro-Am honours, for the second consecutive year, with the combination of Philipp Neuffer, Stefan Aust, Marco Seefried and 2016 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Nico Menzel.
Hong Kong squad KCMG’s crew of 2012 Porsche Carrera Cup Asia champion Alexandre Imperatori, Josh Burdon, Edoardo Liberati and Marco Holzer was running well in the early stages of the race. Burdon had made up 20 places after his initial stint and the team was battling for a top 10 spot when the race was halted. Damage after a spin in the closing stages brought them into the pits for lengthy repairs, however.
Kévin Estre, #911 Manthey Racing: “First I have to catch my breath and take it all in. The race was unusually short and perhaps for this reason it was extremely intense and exhausting. Our car was really strong over the weekend and the team did a flawless job. I’m proud of the Manthey crew. It means a great deal to win in the anniversary year.”
Michael Christensen, #911 Manthey Racing: “We worked our way to the front with a mammoth team effort and defended it consequently. Thank you to everyone who made this success possible. I’m incredibly proud of the team, of my team-mates Michael and Kévin – and a little bit of myself too.”
Matteo Cairoli, #911 Manthey Racing: “This is the most wonderful moment in my life so far! I still have tears of joy in my eyes and I have no words to describe how I feel. Kévin’s drive was simply out of this world. Of course, our victory is a team effort and also Porsche’s but I think Kévin actually achieved something absolutely magical in this race.”
Nicholas Raeder, Manthey Racing Team Principal: “We’re incredibly proud that we managed to win the Nürburgring 24 Hours on our 25th anniversary. It was a very short but extremely intense race. We didn’t compete last year and I’d almost forgotten how exciting it is. The team and the Porsche back office worked brilliantly. We didn’t make any mistakes, and that gave us the leading edge in the end.”
Alessio Picariello, Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver: “It’s been an unusual weekend to say the least. The race distance was much shorter than normal and I wish I could have gotten the opportunity to drive more. I’ve been preparing for this event since the winter so I wanted to be completely exhausted afterwards! Nevertheless, the race was very intense, especially mentally. I really had a lot of fun in my stint, learnt a lot through the weekend and I’m really happy with the work we did as a team. Even though we started a bit down the order, we kept pushing, we stayed out of trouble but were always driving on the limit. In the end, fourth is quite a nice reward, although of course it’s disappointing not to be on the podium as we were third with one lap to go but I think it would be arrogant to ask for more. We got the maximum out of our package and I’m really proud of the team, so thank you to everyone involved and hopefully I can be back at the Nürburgring to fight for even better positions.”
Reinhard Huber, Huber Motorsport Team Principal: “Last year we competed in two classes and won both. This year we did it again with our Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro-Am class and also won the SP7 class. Of course, you always hope for such a result, but when you see it on the official results it’s just incredible.”
Matt Howson, KCMG Team Manager: “While we didn't quite achieve the result we hoped for, I think KCMG showed true class at the highest level during the Nürburgring 24 Hours, recovering from a difficult qualifying to run comfortably at the front until our spin in the last few hours. Josh drove an unbelievable opening two stints to take us from 26th to fifth then Alex, Marco and Edo carried on that strength. After the red flag, Josh once again brought us into contention and with the smart strategy from our engineering team we were in contention for a podium. A big thank you to all at KCMG and Porsche for their hard work, support and cooperation to deliver such a strong package. Overall, we can be positive about the future from this performance as we look towards our next challenge and we'll be going there with every intention and chance to challenge for victory.”
Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R: “A race weekend doesn’t end much better than that. In the preparation, our customer teams drove from one victory to the next on the Nordschleife, and now this big win at the 24-hour race – simply perfect. This victory is the result of a strong team effort from Manthey, close cooperation with Porsche and open communication between all teams. Thank you to everyone!”
Alexandre Gibot, Head of Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific: “What a weekend for Porsche! To conquer the Green Hell is no mean feat and Manthey Racing has done so seven times now which is simply an astonishing achievement. Kévin and Michael has become a legendary pairing and now they can add the Nürburgring 24 Hours to their list of accolades. We are delighted for Alessio, who before this year had never been around the Nordschleife and this weekend he came incredibly close to standing on the podium with Falken Motorsports. It just goes to show how much he has developed as a driver and gives us every confidence that he will continue to amaze us.”