Mercedes claims first Nurburgring 24 Hours victory
|By Gregor Messer||Monday, May 20th 2013, 15:57 GMT|
Mercedes claimed its first Nurburgring 24 Hours victory in one of the most dramatic races in the history of the event.
Five-time DTM champion Bernd Schneider and his team-mates Sean Edwards, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Nicki Thiim steered their Black Falcon-entered SLS to victory, just 2m39s in front of the hard-charging Maxime Martin in the Marc VDS-entered BMW Z4.
Belgian Martin was one of the stars of the race, the BMW works driver lapping more than 20 seconds a lap faster than his opponents at times during the race, which was hit by rain several times.
He could not stop the Black Falcon entry however, even after Schneider lost over two minutes on Monday morning when he was pushing too hard while gaining huge amounts of time in fifth position. It was Schneider's first finish in the 24-hour classic.
Both ROWE Mercedes succumbed to the Marc VDS BMW in an intense finish, but they still finished ahead of the first Audi R8, driven by last year's winners Markus Winkelhock, Marcel Fassler, Frank Stippler, and Mike Rockenfeller, who travelled to Germany for the race after winning the DTM event at Brands Hatch.
The battered BMW of Dirk Adorf, Claudia Hurtgen, Jens Klinmann and Martin Tomczyk came in sixth, while the sister Z4 posted an early retirement when Uwe Alzen hit team-mate Hurtgen while approaching a yellow-flag zone at the Schwedekreuz, destroying the car's steering beyond repair in the process.
Best of the Porsche entries was multiple winner Manthey Racing in a comparatively lowly seventh.
The race had to be interrupted due to torrential rain for more than nine hours.
It was not the first stoppage due to bad weather, however, as the event had been interrupted five times before, most recently in 1994 and 2007.