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