A thrilling duel in the final metres, the best weather and a balanced balance of power - all this was on offer at the 68th ADAC Westfalenfahrt right at the start of the new season of the Nürburgring Endurance Series. Dries Vanthoor and Maxime Martin from ROWE RACING were the first to sign the winners' list with their BMW M4 GT3. The two new BMW drivers delivered a flawless performance over 28 laps and crossed the finish line 6.435 seconds ahead of the competition after four hours.
In the final minutes, Vanthoor had to defend himself against, of all people, his former brand colleague Kim-Luis Schramm in the Scherer Sport PHX Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II. In the meantime, the two were separated by just 1.5 seconds. The task became all the more tricky for both of them because several Code 60 phases were still waiting. Sometimes one of them benefited, sometimes the other. In the end, however, Vanthoor kept a cool head and managed to bring the #99 BMW M4 GT3 home first. The curious thing: the sister car with the #98 was also driven by Vanthoor and Martin and even collected some leading kilometres at the beginning, but was parked in the pits in the meantime because the team only had these two drivers available.
"Everything was new here for Maxime and me, but the car is super on the Nordschleife," Vanthoor said. "The Audi behind me was quite strong at the end. Then on the last lap I pushed hard and tried to get far enough away. With a bit of luck I was able to open up a bigger gap through some traffic."
With the teams in the GT3 field relying on different strategies, the ROWE RACING BMW also didn't officially take the lead until lap 22. Although Team Scherer Sport PHX was using the same tactics, it wasn't enough for Schramm and his teammate Ricardo Feller in the end. "We also lost a bit of time on the last pit stop," said Schramm. "They were also a bit faster overall."
Marcel Marchewicz and Marek Böckmann in Schnitzelalm Racing's Mercedes-AMG GT3 crossed the finish line 48.501 seconds behind, completing the brand diversity with three manufacturers on the podium. "We worked a lot over the winter, both on the engineering side and us drivers in the simulator," said Marchewicz. "The start phase was spectacular and there were a lot of nice overtaking manoeuvres. It was really fun to drive on the Nordschleife. We both really drove for our lives today," said Böckmann. In contrast to the other Mercedes teams, they relied on Goodyear tyres and achieved fourth place in qualifying with them.
The fourth to sixth places in the race were also decided by Audi, BMW and Mercedes. Audi Sport Team Car Collection finished ahead of BMW Junior Team and Mercedes-AMG Team Bilstein. Behind them were the models that are among the newcomers and were particularly in the focus of the fans. The race debut in the final homologated version of the Porsche 911 GT3 R resulted in seventh place for Manthey EMA ahead of the Evo version of the Lamborghini Huracán fielded by Abt Sportsline. The debut for the Ferrari 296 GT3 in the hands of WTM by Rinaldi Racing was also successful with tenth place ahead of the new Porsche 911 GT3 R from Falken Motorsports.
Two of the co-favourites from the GT3 field did not see the chequered flag. These included the BMW M4 GT3 from Walkenhorst Motorsport, which initially took pole position with Jakub Giermaziak but retired with a puncture shortly before the finish. The second Audi R8 LMS GT3 EVO II from Scherer Sport PHX also failed to score a countable result as one crashed.
The second race of the Nürburgring Endurance Series will take place on 1 April. The NIMEX 47th DMV 4h Race takes place over the classic race distance of four hours. Tickets are available for 20 euros (children up to 14 years free of charge) at vln.de/tickets and at the box offices. This will get you into the open grandstands at the Grand Prix circuit, into the exclusive spectator areas Brünnchen and Pflanzgarten as well as into the paddock, the pit lane, the starting grid and into the motorsport experience museum ring°werk.