The local heroes from Phoenix have secured the 50th edition of the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring, their sixth overall victory in the "Eifel Marathon" after a spectacular anniversary race. South African Kelvin van der Linde, the two Belgians Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch as well as Dutchman Robin Frijns prevailed after 24 hours in the "Green Hell" in the Audi R8 LMS evo II with a lead of 0:55.276 min. ahead of their Meuspath neighbours in the #3 Getspeed Mercedes-AMG, driven by DTM Champion Maximilian Götz, Fabian Schiller and Briton Adam Christodoulou. After two Corona years with severely limited attendance, 230,000 spectators experienced the 50th "Eifel Marathon" throughout the weekend and provided an impressive backdrop.
With the sixth success, the Phoenix team around boss Ernst Moser moved a little closer again to the seven victories of record winner Manthey. "We came through the night well and earlier the engineers did a good job with the tyres. That's when we were able to get a big lead on the Mercedes. We deserved the win because we always had the right tyres on," explained Dries Vanthoor. For Kelvin van der Linde (2017) as well as for Dries Vanthoor and Frederic Vervisch (both also with Phoenix in 2019), it was the second victory each at the 24h Nürburgring, for Robin Frijns it was the premiere. "This victory is once again a great team performance," said Julius Seebach, the Managing Director of Audi Sport GmbH responsible for motorsport at Audi. "Our new Audi R8 LMS evo II proved in a tremendously tough competition that it is an absolute winning car."
Maximilian Götz from the second-placed Getspeed trio said: "Actually, everything went according to plan. But you have to say that the Audi was really strong. In the end, you have to be satisfied after a race like this with all the capers. Second place is great. But of course we wanted to win." Rounding off Getspeed's strong showing was the sister car in #4. Maro Engel, Frenchman Jules Gounon and Spaniard Dani Juncadella also finished on the podium in third place. A total of 135 cars were on the grid.
Numerous favourites stumble
After a spectacular start phase, which was dominated by the #99 Rowe-BMW and the #7 Konrad-Lamborghini, the favourites started to die early on. Several top teams retired due to accidents or technical defects or dropped back decisively after having led the field in the meantime. The Rowe-BMW #99 was followed by its sister car #98, the #126 octane126-Ferrari which had started from pole position, the #7 Konrad-Lamborghini, the #5 Phoenix-Audi and the #90 TF Sport-Aston Martin. The defending champion had a particularly spectacular farewell: Belgian Laurens Vanthoor in the #1 Manthey-Porsche touched the #15 Phoenix-Audi of his brother Dries at the wheel at the Döttinger Höhe of all places and spun the "Grello" into the crash barriers at around 260 km/h.
Towards morning, the action slowly calmed down, until several rain showers caused tension again. Three hours before the end of the race, a duel for victory had emerged between the #15 Phoenix-Audi and the #3 Getspeed-Mercedes-AMG. The Phoenix team had the advantage of being able to react at later pit stops and, with Kelvin van der Linde at the wheel and cut slick tyres on a partly wet track, used this to gain a reassuring lead for the final hour of the race.
Anniversary of the 24h Nürburgring was celebrated extensively
The weekend surrounding the 50th edition of the tradition-steeped race was all about the big anniversary. There was a reunion with numerous former 24h overall winners. Almost 40 former winners from the period between 1970 and 2021 accepted the invitation of the organising ADAC Nordrhein. Naturally, they were much sought-after for autographs and as contemporary witnesses. With Timo Bernhard and Marcel Tiemann, two of the most successful drivers in the history of the 24h were also there, each of whom had five victories at the Ring. "I hadn't seen Marcel for ten years and was very happy to meet him here now. But our successes have welded us together and the bond has always remained," said Bernhard: "I've learned so much here and I'm very humbled to have won this race five times." For Tiemann, who had to end his career in 2010 after a serious accident, the first return to the 24h Nürburgring after twelve years was also emotional. "I saw a lot of people from the team again and also Olaf Manthey, plus some fans I still knew from the past," said Tiemann, who had celebrated four of his five victories together with Bernhard in the Manthey Porsche.
There were also encounters with the heroes of yesteryear at the large exhibition of former participant vehicles on the ring°boulevard, which was also adorned by a "Walk of Fame" with large-format photos of the 24h races since 1970. The extensive visitor programme also offered countless other attractions, some of which left visitors spoilt for choice. One of the special "birthday presents" was a genuine world record: live TV partner NITRO broadcast the events at the Nürburgring from the preliminary coverage on Saturday until after the chequered flag fell on Sunday in a 27-hour continuous programme, thus setting a world record for the longest TV broadcast of a live sporting event.
Dates for 2023 already fixed
After the round anniversary, the organisers drew a positive conclusion. "The great crowd and the exciting sport on the track made this event a really worthy anniversary," Race Director Walter Hornung summed up. "This gives us a lot of momentum to look ahead and start into an exciting future." The course for this has already been set, as Nürburgring 1927 GmbH & Co. KG and the organising ADAC Nordrhein have already agreed on the dates for the coming years. The continuation of the cooperation with title sponsor TotalEnergies for the coming year is also already fixed. "We are pleased to be able to give all those involved, from the teams and drivers to our many helpers and the fans, planning security in this way," says Walter Hornung. Next year, the ADAC TotalEnergies 24h Nürburgring will be held from 18 to 21 May 2023. The prologue will be held again at the ADAC 24h Nürburgring Qualifiers from 21 to 23 April 2023.