Italian squad Dinamic Motorsport took the win at GT World Challenge Europe’s Six Hours of the Nürburgring, the #54 Porsche 911 GT3R of Christian Engelhart, Sven Mueller and Matteo Cairoli finishing almost 15 seconds clear from the #88 AKKA-ASP Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Raffaele Marciello, Timur Boguslavskiy and Felipe Fraga.
The win came after a dominant display from the Porsche squad that saw them almost unchallenged despite an incident-filled six hours with a trio of Safety Car periods ensuring that their hard-earned lead was never truly secure.
The lead was claimed by the #54 after the second-place qualifier kept clear of the chaos at Turn One with several cars in trouble after contact, including the pole-sitting #40 GPX Racing Porsche, the fast-starting #163 Emil Frey Racing Lamborghini and the #51 AF Corse Ferrari.
That led to the first safety car deployment, after which the Dinamic Porsche quickly built a gap with Engelhart at the wheel, the team electing to change drivers for each stint.
After that, they surrendered the lead only briefly after pitting during a mid-race safety car period, which dropped Engelhart behind the #88 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG of Timur Boguslavskiy. But any concerns in the Dinamic garage were quickly dispelled as Engelhart launched an attack at the restart, driving around the outside of the Mercedes at turn two and retaking the lead.
Behind the lead pair the #4 Haupt Racing Team AMG made it onto the podium, Maro Engel (sharing with Luca Stolz and Vincent Abril) fending off a fine recovery drive from the #32 WRT Audi after a drive-through for a pitlane penalty (unsafe release) took the Audi out of a looming lead battle, Dries Vanthoor losing or ceding fourth, slowing in the last turn putting the sister #31 Audi of Kelvin van der Linde, Mirko Bortolotti and Rolf Ineichen into fourth at the line, this car too having recovered from an earlier penalty, the time for a driving hours infringement!
K-PAX Racing took its first points finish, the #9 Bentley finishing sixth after a frantic final stint, followed by the #25 Sainteloc Audi and the #100 GetSpeed Performance Mercedes-AMG. A pair of Porsches rounded out the top-10 and capped a superb weekend for the brand, with the #98 ROWE Racing crew finishing ahead of the #21 KCMG entry.
Silver Cup honours went down to the final corner as the #159 Garage 59 Aston Martin of Andrew Watson, Valentin Hasse-Clot and James Pull narrowly beat the #78 Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini. Both had run at the front of the class order from the start and were locked in battle until the very last lap. Pull was at the wheel for the finish, beating Patrick Kujala across the line by just 0.242s after six hours of racing.
The Pro-Am result was settled a little sooner, though there was just 25 minutes to run when the #19 Orange1 FFF Racing Lamborghini overtook the #991 Herberth Motorsport Porsche. Phil Keen was at the wheel for the winning pass, while the car had been challenging at the front of its category throughout the race with Hiroshi Hamaguchi and Elia Erhart.
The Herberth entry made an extra stop late on and was 44 seconds behind at the finish, closely followed by the #87 AKKA ASP Mercedes-AMG, which completed the class podium after starting from pole. The #26 Sainteloc Racing Audi ran alone for Am Cup honours and went the distance, finishing 36th overall with Michael Blanchemain, Clement Seyler and Pierre-Yves Paque at the wheel.
The Dinamic crew’s win puts them into contention in the Endurance Cup drivers’ standings. The #31 Belgian Audi Club Team WRT duo of Bortolotti and Kelvin van Der Linde retains the lead with 40 points, one clear of the #88 AKKA ASP trio of Marciello/Boguslavskiy/Fraga, while Engelhart/Müller/Cairoli now have 34 points.
Christian Engelhart: “The start was the difficult part and then we lost the lead once in the middle when I was in the car. Towards the end, it was quite close when Dries Vanthoor was catching us, but he got a drive-through. In the end, we are really, really happy with this result and very thankful to the team because they gave us a rocket today. The car was fantastic and we made the most of it.”
Sven Müller: “Our car was really a rocket. Yesterday in qualifying it was also really good, but I didn’t nail my segment. Luckily we were starting from P2 and P1 crashed, so maybe the luck was on our side. Today the car was unbeatable and so nice to drive. It was on the edge, but you need a car like this to win.”
Matteo Cairoli: “We all did a great job this weekend and I think we earned this win. The strategy was really good and my teammates did a mega job, so I think we deserve to be the guys standing in the middle today.”
Pics copyright SRO/ Dirk Boegarts – Garage59 pic – Drew Gibson