There was a major reshuffle in the top six behind the overall leader as the cars jostled for meaningful positions through the morning. And a major drama for the dominant leader.
Hour 19 started with a major battle. First Frank Stippler in the #4 Phoenix Audi toughed his way by Christopher Haase in the #29 Land R8 on the Dottinger Hohe for fourth as the two, together with the #6 Black Falcon AMG also right behind pitted.
Thereafter it was left to Dries Vanthoor to take the fight to the others in the #4. He though would stumble in traffic after Rast, now aboard the #29 had retaken the slot, going to the outside at T1, but getting onto the dirt and running wide, gifting Rast an advantage.
Sven Muller meanwhile was also fully engaged in a battle, this time for 2nd, he’d get by on the road before Gotz, trying to hang on in there, ran a kerb and clattered the barriers at Hohen Acht – possibly a result of a rear puncture, the AMG stranded with damaged steering and towed back to a place of safety, Rast up to third 75 seconds back from Muller.
That left a new-look top six as Earl Bamber led in the #911 Manthey Porsche, 85 seconds clear of Muller in the #31, Rast 75 seconds back in the #20 third and Dries Vanthoor fourth in the #4 Audi just two seconds back. The #6 AMG with Piana at the wheel had dropped back to 12 seconds back from Vanthoor the Younger with Markus Winkelhock now 6th, two and a half minutes back, but with a further 32-second penalty hanging over the car for non-respect of flag signals.
The #173 Seat Cupra TCR class leader was in big trouble just before that incident, at Adenau Forest, the FEV Racing car in the hands of Benedikt Gentgen upside down and over the armco.
The #5 Phoenix Audi, running 12th, was also in trouble on the GP Strecke, the cause unknown.
Vanthoor’s battle with Rast has fully engaged again. The move again made on the Dottinger Hohe. Nose to tail action ensued thereafter, the move reversed, Rast again into third on Lap 125.
Raffaelle Marciello meanwhile showed his class, tweeting and taking responsibility for the #48 failure:
“While fighting for a podium or more I had a contact with a Cayman so I feel is my fault that @Max_Goetz had a crash caused the car had few scratches. I got surprised by a slow gt4 and I thought he left me the road but was not like this. Really sorry.”
The battle for third switches to pit lane as the three battling players pit together. Piana leapfrogging Rast for fourth as the cars are released, the #29 Audi all over the rear of the #6 Black Falcon AMG all around the track but unable to get the place back before the end of lap 127.
Vanthoor then tagged the #306 Cayman, the driver of which did a remarkable job to gather up the Porsche, that though cost Dries Vanthoor huge momentum. He was passed briefly by Piana on the Dottinger Hohe but toughs it back into third; the ##4/6/29 train continued.
Lap 129 and this time Rast had a run on Piana for 4th with a tow, but Piana blocks to the left. Rast was running into the left rear of the AMG and put the Audi fully onto the grass at huge speed. The AMG’s bodywork fouling the tyre and trailing smoke. Piana pitted at the end of the lap, Rast continuing, Piana fully at fault for the incident.
Wolfgang Land made his way down to the AMG pit in search of the Balck Falcon Team Manager. He was intercepted by Black Falcon Team Principal Sean-Paul Breslin, himself an ex-VLN overall Champion and there was seemingly a forthright but fairly businesslike exchange.
He later remarked: “Actually you would have to send the driver home. His team boss told me that the action against Rast does not get his approval, and Mercedes has already apologized by SMS.”
Post stint Rene Rast commented: “It was tough racing, I had two stints of bike-to-bike duels with Dries Vanthoor and a Mercedes. With the Mercedes, it did not go quite well. He once sent me over the grass on the Döttinger Höhe, that was pretty dangerous. Overall, we can be satisfied, we fight for the podium. Nobody would have thought that before the race. ”
Meanwhile, on track the #7 Konrad Lamborghini was again in trouble, having lost a lot of ground to an early morning accident, the car crawling back to the pits with a right rear puncture. Axel Jeffries was at the wheel and running 18th at the time of the puncture.
Then, there was major drama for Matt Campbell who was looking solid in second. The #31 Frikadelli Porsche limped into the pits with a right rear puncture, halfway around the circuit and consequent damage. The team worked quickly but by the time the car got back to the track it had dropped to 5th, the #4 Audi now second, Dries Vanthoor still at the wheel.
The #31 though had further trouble, the car stopped on track at Hatzenbach and dropping down the order in the hands of Jaminet.
And as this report was written, a huge penalty was handed out to the Overall race leader: A 5-minute 32-second time penalty for the #911 Manthey Porsche ignoring speed limits during flagging procedures!
Time penalty for the leader was imposed because of a significant excess of the prescribed speed. In a 120-kilometre zone, the Porsche was measured at 172 km / h.
#911 Porsche – Bamber
#6 AMG – Piana – +1:30 (but out of sequence)
#29 Audi – van der Linde – +1:15
#4 Audi – Vervisch – +0:15
#14 Audi – Fassler – +5 mins
#3 AMG – Jager +1 lap
#16 AMG – van de Zande – +1:45
#12 Porsche – Kern +1:39
#18 AMG Ludwig
#33 BMW Klingmann
21st overall – SP7 – #62 Porsche
26th overall – SP10 #70 AMG
27th overall – SP8 – #148 Audi
28th overall – SP3T – #88 Subaru
29th overall – AT – #320 Porsche
34th overall – SP6 – #80 Porsche
35th overall – SP8T – #36 Aston Martin
37th overall – Cup 3 – #310 Porsche
40th overall – Cup 5 – #240 BMW
44th overall – TCR – #172 Honda
52nd overall – V6 – #133 Porsche
57th overall – Cup X – #110 KTM
61st overall – V5 – #146 Porsche
71st overall – SP3 – #115 Toyota
73rd overall – V4 – #150 BMW
89th overall – V2T – #162 BMW
95th overall – SP4 – #325 BMW
102nd overall – SP5 – #84 BMW
114th overall – SP4T – #85 VW
122nd overall – V3T – #718 Porsche