Mercedes’s land­mark win at 24-hour epic in a rain­storm

Yorkshire Post - Motoring - - NEWS -

A MERCEDES-Benz has se­cured the mar­que’s first ever vic­tory at the 24-Hour Nür­bur­gring and it did so in a race de­scribed as “one of the most dra­matic” in the his­tory of the event.

The in­de­pen­dently en­tered Black Fal­con num­ber 9 SLS AMG GT3 with driv­ers Bernd Sch­nei­der (Ger­many), Jeroen Bleeke­molen (Nether­lands), Sean Edwards (GB) and Nicki Thiim (Den­mark) went from sixth on the grid to fin­ish the leg­endary 88lap en­durance race 2.39 min­utes ahead of the sec­ond placed BMW Z4 GT3 driven by Maxime Martin.

But, on the way, the team had to con­tend not only with con­sid­er­able pres­sure from Martin who, at times lapped more than 20 sec­onds faster than his op­po­nents, but also tor­ren­tial rain which caused the race to be halted for more than nine hours.

And while other teams were forced to re­tire, record-break­ing five-time DTM (Ger­man Tour­ing Car Masters) cham­pion Bernd Sch­nei­der had a largely trou­ble-free race de­spite an off-track two minute ex­cur­sion at one stage.

Al­though this is not the first time the Black Fal­con rac­ing team has taken the che­quered flag it will go down as one of its real mile­stones.

Uli Fritz, head of AMG cus­tomer sports said: “We were not among the favourites to win, as we are not a works team but sim­ply a cus­tomer out­fit.

“We are very ex­cited about this his­toric suc­cess. So far in 2013, we have won ev­ery ma­jor en­durance race with the SLS AMG GT3 – in Jan­uary, the Dubai (UAE) 24-hour race, in Fe­bru­ary, the Bathurst 12-Hours (Aus­tralia) and now the leg­endary 24- hour race here at the Nür­bur­gring.”

As well as Black Fal­con, two SLS AMG GT3s pre­pared by Rowe Rac­ing came in third and fourth.

Bernd Sch­nei­der, driver of the Black Fal­con, num­ber 9, said: “Our car was su­per to drive, es­pe­cially in the wet, and even while the sur­face was dry­ing out, we were al­ways up with the lead­ing group. I’ve at­tempted the 24hour race at the Nür­bur­gring on sev­eral pre­vi­ous oc­ca­sions, but this is the first time I’ve ever crossed the fin­ish line. My con­grat­u­la­tions and thanks go to the whole team. Black Fal­con did a great job.”

UN­DER PRES­SURE: The Mercedes Black Fal­con SLS AMG GT3 went from sixth on the grid to a con­vinc­ing win in tough con­di­tions.

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