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Nürburgring 24 Hours: Hours 21, 22 & 23 Report, Audi Pulls Ahead

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SUMMARY: WRT Audi’s grip on the 2015 edition of the Nurburgring 24 Hours tightened as the race headed towards its final hour. After a long time trading P1 with the #25 Marc VDS BMW car, the leading #28 R8 managed to retain the lead following a pit stop around 2pm, leaving the gap to second place at almost a minute.

At the head of the 21st hour, the #25 Marc VDS BMW made a routine stop, Westbrook staying in the car and plenty of fuel going in. The tide seemed to be turning in favour of the #28 WRT Audi, however, as this car was consistently able to outpace its Belgian rival when needed and was still returning better fuel economy.

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The Falken Porsche (above), second Marc VDS BMW, sole remaining Black Falcon Mercedes, sole remaining ROWE Mercedes, lead Walkenhorst BMW, second WRT Audi, sole remaining HTP Bentley and the Premio Racing Mercedes continued to circulate metronomically in positions three to 10 as the 21st hour rolled past.

Class leaders at this point included the #114 Subaru WRX STI (SP3T), the #61 Black Falcon Porsche (SP7), the #49 Aston Martin Test Centre entry (SP8), the #87 Mathol Aston Martin (SP10/GT4), the #301 Sorg Rennsport BMW (Cup 5) and the #53 Lexus LF-A (SP-Pro).

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Maxime Martin was back behind the wheel of the #25 BMW (above) half-way through hour 22, but the #28 Audi had just set its fastest lap of the race in the hands of Laurens Vanthoor (an 8:19.684). The gap once the VDS car had made its stop was two minutes and 12 seconds and increasing. The constant swapping of the lead between the two cars had brought the total number of lead changes to 33 – a record for the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

At the next round of stops around 2pm, Vanthoor in the Audi retained the lead after refuelling and the gap on the track became a true representation of the situation, around 45 seconds ahead of the BMW, and stayed that way as the clock approached 3pm. The leading cars made their final routine pit stops around this time.

Stephen Errity