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Nürburgring 24h Race 2015 (analysis): Closest finish in history

Stefan Baldauf /Robert Kah
24h race Nürburgring 2015 (analysis)
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What made the difference between Audi and BMW in the end?

A udi and BMW fought a fight with a knife between their teeth until the bitter end. After surviving the night, the Bavarian parliamentary group emerged as a favorite. With the winning Audi from WRT only 40 seconds behind the BMW Z4 from Marc VDS, the fans saw the closest finish in the history of the race. The tactics were similar with a total of 19 stops at Audi and BMW. WRT only preferred a splash-and-dash stop before switching back to the 9-lap rhythm.

While Richard Westbrook from Marc VDS had the assumption that the unscheduled stop in the initial phase, in which one mistakenly switched to rain tires, which could have cost the victory, contradicted his team-mate Lucas Luhr. The two-time 24h winner rather blamed the generally better performance of the Audi for the small difference in the end. This was also supported by the fact that the gap with the Audi was largely closed in the morning. 'Our Z4 is about to retire. That's why it wasn't so easy,' recalled Luhr.

What was going on with the newcomer Bentley?

Bentley entered with two factory cars and one privately used Continental GT3 from HTP Motorsport for the first time in the Eifel. After facing the challenges of 24h Spa and Bathurst, they wanted to conquer the Nordschleife with the GT3 race. However, one was not very lucky. The English-manned racer (Andy Meyrick /Guy Smith /Steven Kane) painted in 'British Racing green' with an illuminated radiator grille fell victim to a rear-end collision in the evening hours. The M-Sport team has enough experience from rally days to repair a car. But just the transport from the track to the paddock took a long time. A few hours later the car was running again in order to gain valuable kilometers of experience.

The sister car of Christian Menzel, Lance-David Arnold and Jeroen Bleekemolen, which was looked after by HTP Motorsport, ran aground around midnight. Bleekemolen lost the car on the track. The damage was so great that it made no sense to return to the race. After all, the privately used HTP car owned by Harold Primat, Marco Seefried, Christopher Brück and Clemens Schmid got the coals out of the fire in eighth placeand at least provided evidence that the technology can hold out for 24 hours without any problems.

How did the speed limits prove themselves?

Before the race, some in the paddock feared the newly introduced slow zones Flugplatz, Schwedenkreuz and on the Döttinger Höhe could result in a flood of fines. Some joked that the race result would certainly not be sent to you by post until a week after the race. However, these fears did not come true. The race management assistants worked in shifts to deal with the violations that were reported via the GPS system.

Ultimately, there were only a few violations of the speed limits. The regulations in the slow zones were disregarded only three times. In the leading group, however, there were no penalties to report and therefore not decisive for the race. During free practice on Thursday, the teams had the opportunity to compare their data with those of the race management and set their speed limiters accordingly. Nobody wanted to take the risk of receiving a fine.

Why did so many cars burn while refueling?

There were three blazes in the pit lane. Marc VDS's BMW Z4 with the number 26. The WRT-Audi with the number 28 experienced a déja-vu. At the first stop, there was a problem jacking up the car, whereupon gasoline spilled over and ignited. At the second fire on Sunday morning, the fuel can was too full. A similar problem arose at Marc VDS in the night from Saturday to Sunday. With the Belgians, the fuel jug did not sit properly on the fuel nozzle.

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