The Manthey customer team has clinched its seventh outright victory at the Nürburgring 24-hour race. At the 49th edition of the endurance classic, works drivers Kévin Estre from France, Michael Christensen from Denmark and the Italian Matteo Cairoli crossed the finish line in first place at the wheel of the No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R. This triumph rounds off the 25th anniversary celebrations of the team from the Eifel. Manthey expanded its accomplishment as the most successful team with the seventh win at the 24-hour race. It was also the 13th victory for a Porsche racing car. The Huber Motorsport customer squad achieved an emphatic win in the Pro-Am class with a 500+PS 911. Bad weather saw the race red-flagged for over 14 hours on Saturday evening. Consequently, the total driving time was only around nine and a half hours.
“Congratulations to the Manthey team. The crew did a flawless job, the drivers gave a terrific show at the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R,” said a delighted Fritz Enzinger, Vice President Porsche Motorsport. “I’m also particularly pleased about Huber Motorsport’s Pro-Am class win. Our customer teams can be very proud of their achievements. Unfortunately, the strong performance was not always rewarded accordingly, as numerous vehicles had to retire after becoming entangled in other competitors’ accidents.”
The 24-hour race took off on Saturday afternoon in difficult track conditions. Works driver Kévin Estre gave an inspired performance in the Manthey-run Porsche 911 GT3 R on the partly flooded track. Within four laps, the Frenchman had charged through the field from eleventh to the front. The identical vehicles of Rutronik Racing, Huber Motorsport, KCMG, Frikadelli Racing and Falken Motorsports made up many positions until the beginning of the 14-hour break at 9:30 pm. Thick fog was the reason for the interruption. Prior to this, Frikadelli Racing’s No. 30 entry was hampered by bad luck. First, a power steering defect had to be repaired; a little later a damaged differential – the result of a puncture – threw the car out of contention. For the final sprint over three and a half hours, the customer teams lined up the other 911 GT3 R on the grid in promising positions on Sunday morning.
At the restart shortly before midday on Sunday, it was again Kévin Estre who treated around 10,000 spectators in the grandstands to some gripping racing. At the wheel of the so-called “Grello” Porsche 911 GT3 R, the 32-year-old came from sixth place to the front of the field and handed the car off to Michael Christensen in first place. The Dane turned heads with consistently fast laps and maintained the lead in the No. 911 car. Estre successfully fended off all attacks in the last hour of racing to take the flag by a margin of 8.817 seconds. In addition to Estre, Christensen and Cairoli, Lars Kern also competes for the Manthey squad, however the experienced Porsche development driver was unable to contest the race on account of ill health.
The Falken Motorsport team battled for a podium spot to the last lap in the No. 44 car but narrowly missed out on a podium result. Germany’s Sven Müller, the two Austrians Martin Ragginger and Klaus Bachler as well as Alessio Picariello from Belgium finished in fourth place. The No. 33 sister car achieved ninth place. Eighth went to the Porsche 911 GT 3 R fielded by Huber Motorsport with the German drivers Stefan Aust, Philipp Neuffer, Nico Menzel and Marco Seefried. The outfit under team boss Reinhard Huber remained in the top ten over the entire distance and even spent some laps in the lead. In the Pro-Am class, Huber Motorsport was the unchallenged leader.
“A race weekend doesn’t end much better than that,” states Sebastian Golz, Project Manager Porsche 911 GT3 R. “In the preparation, our customer teams drove from one victory to the next on the Nordschleife, and now this big win at the 24-hour race – simply perfect. This victory is the result of a strong team effort from Manthey, close cooperation with Porsche and open communication between all teams. Thank you to everyone!”
Porsche’s other customer teams experienced less luck. The vehicles campaigned by Frikadelli Racing, KCMG and Rutronik Racing were fast over long distances but were all involved in accidents. The damages sustained forced the vehicles into the pits before the end of the 24-hour race, which ultimately only ran for only nine and a half hours due to the prolonged interruption.
Comments on the race
Nicolas Raeder (Manthey team principal): “We’re incredibly proud that we managed to win the Nürburgring 24-hour race on our 25th anniversary. It was a very short but extremely intense race. We didn’t compete last year and I’d almost forgotten how exciting it is. The team and the Porsche back office worked brilliantly. We didn’t make any mistakes, and that gave us the leading edge in the end.”
Olaf Manthey (Manthey team founder): “2006 was the most emotional victory at the 24-hour race on the Nürburgring because it was our first. But this one on our 25th anniversary, I can only say: I love the entire Manthey team and I will never stop loving them!”
Kévin Estre (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “First I have to catch my breath and take it all in. The race was unusually short and perhaps for this reason it was extremely intense and exhausting. Our car was really strong over the weekend and the team did a flawless job. I’m proud of the Manthey crew. It means a great deal to win in the anniversary year.”
Michael Christensen (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “We worked our way to the front with a mammoth team effort and defended it consequently. Thank you to everyone who made this success possible. I’m incredibly proud of the team, of my teammates Michael and Kévin – and a little bit of myself too.”
Matteo Cairoli (Porsche 911 GT3 R #911): “This is the most wonderful moment in my life so far! I still have tears of joy in my eyes and I have no words to describe how I feel. Kévin’s drive was simply out of this world. Of course, our victory is a team effort and also Porsche’s but I think Kévin actually achieved something absolutely magical in this race.”
Reinhard Huber (Huber Motorsport team principal): “Last year we competed in two classes and won both. This year we did it again with our Porsche 911 GT3 R in the Pro-Am class and also won the SP7 class. Of course, you always hope for such a result, but when you see it on the official results it’s just incredible.”
Stefan Aust (Porsche 911 GT3 R #23): “That was a tough and very unusual race. Unfortunately, there weren’t even ten hours of real racing so we amateurs couldn’t contribute much. Our professional drivers and our team did a great job. We deserved this victory and we’ll be celebrating accordingly.”
Results for the Porsche 911 GT3 R
1. Estre/Cairoli/Christensen (F/I/DK), Manthey #911
4. Bachler/Ragginger/S. Müller/Picariello (A/A/D/B), Falken Motorsports #44
8. Neuffer/Aust/N. Menzel/Seefried (D/D/D/D), Huber Motorsport #23
9. Bachler/Werner/Preining/Arnold (A/D/A/D), Falken Motorsports #33
22. Pilet/Makowiecki/Martin/Olsen (F/F/B/N), Frikadelli Racing #31
63. Imperatori/Burdon/Liberati/Holzer (CH/AUS/I/D), KCMG #18
DNF. Dumas/Andlauer/L. Vanthoor/T. Müller (F/F/B/D), Rutronik #3
DNF. Jaminet/Tandy/Bamber/Campbell (F/GB/NZ/AUS), Frikadelli Racing #30