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Nürburgring 24 Hours: Hours 6 & 7 Report, Audi Takes Control

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SUMMARY: Retirements began to mount as darkness closed in and the #1 Audi cemented its position at the front of the field. A multi-car incident down the field resulted in an extended yellow-flag zone and generally reduced lap times.

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The sixth hour opened with bad news for the #8 Haribo Mercedes, which was pulled into the garage with front and rear damage after driver Norbert Siedler lost it on a damp patch and hit the barrier.

There was similar damage for the #208 Saxon BMW, which had to be recovered from the middle on the track in somewhat hairy circumstances for the marshals. There was better news from Bentley, which had managed to repair the stricken #85 Continental and return it to the track, albeit a long way down.

Up front, Christopher Haase was back behind the wheel of the lead-disputing #1 Audi, taking over from Rene Rast at a scheduled stop. Shortly after 9:30pm, the #8 Haribo Mercedes was declared an official retirement. The other Mercedes in trouble – Christodolou’s #2 which had lost a wheel, was temporarily repaired behind the barrier and got going again towards the pits.

At around 9:45pm, the #20 Schubert BMW – a pre-race favourite for a strong result, was confirmed as a retirement. Claudia Huertgen had hit the barrier earlier in the race, but after several hours of repairs, a reconnaissance lap by Jens Klingmann confirmed the car was basically undriveable.

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Just after 10pm, an unscheduled stop for the #30 Frikadelli Porsche to attend to a puncture, blunting its thus-far promising run. Once the leading cars had run through their fifth series of regular stops, the #1 Audi emerged in the lead, the #30 Frikadelli Porsche was running second despite its puncture and the #28 WRT Audi was looking strong in third.

The formerly leading #26 Marc VDS was in fourth due to a combination of slightly shorter stints and a somewhat extended pitstop with the mechanics examining under the wheelarches with flashlights, while the #19 Schubert BMW was still in touch in fifth.

A puncture for the #54 Lexus at the Foxhole led to an incident involving the #90 Porsche, #304 BMW and #46 BMW. David Ackermann, one of the drivers of the #46, suffered light burns and was being attended to in the medical centre.

Just as the clock hit 11pm, the third-place #28 WRT made a potentially crucial gamble by switching to wets as rain once again began to fall around the Nordschleife. The #1 and #4 Phoenix Audis did likewise, while elsewhere there was a small pit fire for the #26 Marc VDS at its latest stop.

Stephen Errity