The 24-hour race in 2017 offered dramatic scenes at the final.
The starting rain half hour before the end of the race drove many teams crazy.
we have a closer look to what happened this year at the Eifel.


What happened during the rain chaos in the last rounds?
We had a fairly clear and easy race, until the last half hour, the purest chaos arose. At 14.55 clock the first rain drops were reported at the area of Pflanzgarten. Shortly afterwards the WRT-Audi # 9 and the Land-Audi # 29 came to the scheduled last Splash & Dash in round 156. The leading WRT car took slicks!

The Team Land was a third after a sensor problem. Then, only because of a fault during tank refill- which took valuable time- , the team took a risk decision to put on rain tires. At this moment, happiness after misfortune. Because it proved to be correct. Both the # 9 and the Rowe BMW # 98 on rank two crawled around the north loop in a snail’s speed. Kelvin van der Linde immediately overtook the BMW. The WRT-Audi and the Rowe-BMW had to drove into the box a lap later. WRT lost the lead. The Rowe-BMW finally took the WRT-Audi with the faster Michelin-racetracks and celebrated second place behind Team Land.

Why was Audi so dominating?
Audi had clearly dictated the pace in this race. Only BMW could keep up. The cornerstone for success was already laid in the top 30 qualifying, where five Audi were placed in the top ten. After the single-time driving, there was another additional ballast through the balance of performance of ten kilograms for the race. That did not stop the cars with the four rings. After four hours of the race Audi had a five-minute lead. Shortly thereafter, the WRT car # 10 and the Phoenix # 5 car were eliminated with collisions.
In the end, the # 29 Audi Land and the # 9 of WRT clearly were in lead. Winner Christopher Mies, Kelvin van der Linde, Connor de Phillippi and Markus Winkelhock (# 29) had the race under control for 22.5 hours – Then because of a sensor problem and the rain – Chaos in the last minutes.
The tempo and dominance has different reasons.
One goes to the account of Dunlop tires. Until the last minute, the decision was made as to whether Dunlop or Michelin would be in the race. After all, Dunlop was decided – and that was a good decision. The advantage of the long decision-making process was that both brands could be tested against the hot conditions, which had never before existed during the preparation phase. The Dunlop proved to be more durable and easy to clean during the heat. In addition, you have been able to cope with Dunlop through the many years of cooperation from Phoenix. A further strength of the Audi was the top speed on the Döttinger Höhe.


Has the tire theme been overestimated before the race?
Such a curious situation is rarely experienced in the 24h race Nürburgring. Usually the discussions are about determining the balance of performance in the paddock before the race. But the classification of the GT3 vehicles stepped a bit into the background this time. Instead, the topic of tire overcame everything. This had several reasons.
On the one hand, the newly introduced tire regulation created a lot of discussion. The DMSB wanted to curb the cornering speeds and promised that the tire manufacturers would be able to buy their products from each other, that the technology cant be hidden.
This, however, had only a limited success. Actually only Michelin as a market leader had secrets to hide. That is why the French had the most to lose and presented a fairly conservative tire, which lies between standard tires and the development tire. As a result, the tire performance was of course limited.
The hot temperatures intensified the topic. After the qualifying sessions, some teams feared that the Michelin tire might be broken after five rounds. Strategic but 8-round stints are considered ideal. Most of the problems seemed to have Porsche. But also Mercedes and BMW complained. In fact, the anticipated big drama did not take place, but many teams had to make certain cuts in the setup and performance to guarantee the durability of the tires.


What was going on with Mercedes, Porsche and Bentley?
The race was a clear picture: Audi and BMW fought for the victory. Other brands had nothing to report. The first four places shared Audi and BMW alternately among themselves. Only on rank 5 is the best Mercedes, behind it follows the best Porsche and only on position 16 the best Bentley. The result of Porsche had several reasons. Of the three spearheads Manthey, Frikadelli and Falken accidentally lost two cars.
Jörg Bergmeister flew into the plank in the courage curve, Romain Dumas had a touch in the Manthey-Elfer with another vehicle, which caused a defect of the steering gear. The repair took at least 40 minutes and was not worth it. Only the Frikadelli with the # 31 remained. It started at the end of the GT3 field, because the top 30 qualifying was buzzing. Officially a technical defect was reported, behind the scenes one rumored however, that the tire miser is a reason for it. The tire problem, which we have already explained in the previous question, also prevented a better race result.
Mercedes was similar. The Michelin decorating the AMG GT3 of Black Falcon, Haribo and HTP Motorsport weakened the car with tire-related setup problems. The Dunlop cars of Black Falcon (# 3) and HTP Motorsport (# 47) had to complain early on sheet metal damage. In general, it was heard that they were probably better off the track. All in all, the Topspeed shortage at Mercedes was also a big topic, same as in the VLN races. On the Döttingerhöhe the Mercedes pilots are easy taken by the others.
With Bentley actually only the Continental GT3 with the # 37 came predominantly without incidents through the 24 hours. Christer Jöns, Christian Menzel, Christopher Brück and Nico Verdonck, however, had problems in the meantime.

How did the height measurement work?
It was one of the most discussed topics in the preparation phase of the 24h race and also at the end of the race itself started many discussions around the measuring roll, which was installed at the entrance to the pit lane. It should ensure that the GT3 and SP-X vehicles should not be driven under the new 70 instead of the 65 mm required vehicle height. An optical alarm signal would have drawn the driver’s attention to the violation. This would require the mandatory static measurement in Box 3.
But for a long time, the dynamics of the dynamic height measurement, which was set at any time to a mere 60 millimeters, did not last. The measurement tools were hidden by two pylons shortly after 9.30 pm. The drivers did not have to pass them any more and it would have been   possible – theoretically to set the suspension as low as desired.