It was not for the faint-hearted. In a thrilling finish, Formula 1 world champion Max Verstappen and Rudy van Buren in the Ferrari 296 GT3 of Team Redline won race two of the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series. They crossed the finish line 4.76 seconds ahead of Elias Seppänen and Kevin Ellis Jr. in the Mercedes-AMG GT3 of AMG Team MSI. Third place in the digital Green Hell was secured by Sindre Setsaas and Carl E. Jansson in another Mercedes-AMG for AMG Team Williams. The mix of brands at the front of the field in the BMW M 3h race was rounded off by the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO from Sontek Racing and the BMW M4 GT3 from BS+Competition.
In qualifying, Finn Sami-Matti Trogen took pole position in the Sontek Lambo with a time of 7:51.487 seconds. Verstappen was only beaten by 0.154 seconds on the virtual Nordschleife and completed the front row of the grid. On the opening laps, the two chased bumper to bumper through the Green Hell. Verstappen launched several attacks but only took the lead when Trogen pitted for a retrospective stop-and-go penalty from race one.
Starting from fifth on the grid, ADAC GT Masters champion Seppänen and team-mate Ellis worked their way up to the front of the field. At the start of the last of the three hours of racing, Ellis' time had come, as he moved out of the slipstream at the end of the Döttinger Höhe to overtake the F1 world champion, who had previously been in first place, and take the lead. He lost the lead again at the last stop, but after van Buren had taken his place in the Redline Ferrari for the final stint, the Briton attacked again. On the penultimate lap, he took first place at the start-finish straight. However, Van Buren countered and overtook Ellis again at the exit of the AMG Arena, who spun immediately after the overtaking maneuver. This paved the way to victory for the Dutch Ferrari duo.In the Porsche Esports Endurance Trophy Nürburgring, the Scherer eSport team also came out on top in race two. Julian Reimer and Fabian Hochstatter came home as winners with a clear lead of 47.094 seconds over Michael Janney in the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup of the Apex Racing Team. The US-American driver managed to finish just 0.217 seconds ahead of third-placed Bobby Zalenski and David Williams from Coanda Esports. "Our tactics worked," said Hochstatter. "Julian drove two super stints at the start, while some of the other teams made mistakes or incurred penalties. In the end, it was a clear victory for us."
In the GT4 SP10 class, the two Mercedes-AMG teams from MAHLE Racing Team and X-R car seized the moment and pulled away from the competition by a clear margin of one lap. "It was all about strategy today," said Ruben Bonga, who shared the cockpit of the MAHLE GT4 with Ryan Barneveld. "In the last iRacing update, the speed of the GT3 cars was lowered slightly. This made them slow enough for us, in quotation marks, so that we could drive an extra lap at the end. We just had to make sure that we would be ahead of the fastest GT3 car shortly before the finish in order to be able to add a lap compared to our rivals. We didn't even have to save fuel. The calculation worked out."Corentin Guinez took victory in the SP3T single-handedly. In the Hyundai Veloster from SimRC, the Frenchman finished 7.569 seconds ahead of Fabian Siegmann and Stefan Schella from Team Heusinkveld. Third place went to SCHERER eSport. "At the end of the three hours, my arms and legs were admittedly a bit sore, but it was enough," said Guinez. "I paid a bit of attention to my fuel consumption in the early stages so that I was able to complete one more lap in my first stint. After that, I drove the race home in a controlled manner."
Things were much closer in the VT2 class, which is making its debut in the DNLS this year. Conner Karnik and Christopher Limprecht won in the Toyota GT86 with a 1.745-second lead over Daniel Muth and Maximilian Straupe from Nürburgring eSports.The third race of the Digital Nürburgring Endurance Series will take place on January 27. The race distance will again be 3.5 hours.