Black Falcon Mercedes wins Nurburgring 24 Hours with last-lap move

Maro Engel led the #4 Black Falcon Mercedes to a daring Nurburgring 24 Hours victory after a sublime overtake on the #29 HTP Motorsport entry on the final lap

Black Falcon Mercedes wins Nurburgring 24 Hours with last-lap move

The #4 car trailed its HTP counterpart on the final lap, but squeezed up the inside of Christian Hohenadel on the grand prix circuit and raced clear to clinch a sensational victory.

Hohenadel and the HTP team appeared to have victory sown up after diverting slightly off strategy and pitting before their rivals, but Hohenadel's pace in the final stint was such that he was forced to pit two laps from the end, reducing his lead from 50 seconds to around five.

Despite catching traffic, which Engel used to his advantage to catch the #29 car, the pair's pace throughout the final stint meant that they crossed the line at the end of lap 133 with 44 seconds to go before the 24-hour mark, extending the race by a lap.

Engel seized the opportunity that presented and pounced at Turn 8 on the grand prix loop, stuffing his AMG GT3 up the inside of Hohenadel's - forcing the latter out wide in the process - to take the lead.

Despite making light contact with a backmarker on the final lap, Engel was able to pull clear to secure victory for himself and team-mates Bernd Schneider, Adam Christodoulou and Manuel Metzger.

The winning margin of 5.697s was the closest in the history of the 24 Hour race, eclipsing the record set last year.

Haribo Racing's #88 AMG GT3 led for much of the opening stages and remained in contention into the final hour, but was too far back from the lead battle and eventually took the chequered flag a lap early in third.

The #9 sister Black Falcon car, started from pole by Engel and shared with Hubert Haupt, Yelmer Buurman and Dirk Muller, had led sporadically on Sunday morning, but fell away from the fight for victory in the last two hours to complete a Mercedes 1-2-3-4 sweep.

The #23 Rowe Racing BMW M6 GT3 was the best non-Mercedes finisher in fifth.

The car had been close to going a lap down early on Sunday morning, but a fine set of stints from Alexander Sims and Maxime Martin in the final few hours shaved the best part of two minutes off the deficit to the leading #29.

A late pitstop for the #38 Bentley Team ABT Continental GT3 dropped it behind the #75 Zakspeed Mercedes, but nevertheless it secured a fine seventh after a consistent run throughout the 24 hours.

Stuart Leonard completed the #2 WRT Audi R8 LMS' final stint and brought the car home in eighth and best of the marque's finishers on a difficult day for Audi, which had three of its cars eliminated in a half-hour period at dawn and also witnessed its #6 eliminated from the race within two hours of the finish.

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Nurburgring 24 Hours: #29 Mercedes holds narrow lead on Sunday

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Author Jack Cozens
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