The 44th edition of the ADAC Zurich 24h Race was an event to remember for a long time. Mercedes-Benz celebrated a memorable and amazing overall result, the decision in the fight for victory was closer than ever before and the weather was really going crazy. The Black Falcon quartet Adam Christodoulou, Maro Engel, Manuel Metzger and Bernd Schneider withstood all adversities in their Mercedes-AMG GT3 and celebrated the win after a spectacular final lap, with a razor-thin 5.697 seconds lead, followed by their make colleagues Christian Hohenadel, Marco Seefried, Christian Vietoris and Renger van der Zande of the Team HTP Motorsport.
Manuel Metzger and Black Falcon – a particularly victorious combination at the Nürburgring. In 2011, they won the VLN championship, now they added another great triumph to their records. “To gain the VLN title was already outstanding but to be on top of the podium now, that is really incredible”, said Metzger after the prizegiving ceremony. “I am very proud that the team put its confidence in me and that I was thus able to demonstrate what I can achieve.”
The decision was taken in the very last lap only, the 134th. Christian Hohenadel was not able to withstand the pressure exerted by Maro Engel, the latter taking advantage of the gap that Hohenadel provided in the Ravenol corner on the Grand Prix Circuit and moved ahead. Engel was able to defend his lead until the finish and secured the first victory for the Mercedes-AMG GT3 in a 24 hour race. “When Maro passed Christian, I was shouting so loudly that my voice is almost completely gone now”, said VLN starter Adam Christodoulou about his so far most emotional minutes at the Nürburgring.
After the titles in the years 2008, 2009 and 2011, Black Falcon has now scored another great success. Even though there was initially a lot of frustration in the second-placed team, they were part of a very impressive performance of Mercedes-Benz at this year’s 24h Race. After all, Uwe Alzen, Lance David Arnold, Maximilian Götz and Jan Seyffarth (Haribo Racing Team) in third place, Yelmer Buurmann, Hubert Haupt and Dirk Müller (Black Falcon) following in fourth position as well as Sebastian Asch, Kenneth Heyer, Daniel Keilwitz and Luca Ludwig (Mann-Filter Team Zakspeed) finishing sixth completed a historic result for the make from Stuttgart. The winning cars were entered by the experienced VLN teams of Black Falcon, Haribo and Zakspeed.
Only Rowe Racing, another regular VLN competitor, was able to break into the armada of Mercedes-AMG vehicles in finishing fifth. Dirk Werner, Philipp Eng, Maxime Martin and Alexander Sims provided the best result of the BMW M6 GT3. Walkenhorst Motorsport, too, scored a remarkable result: The current winner of the VLN Junior Trophy, Michele di Martino, Tom Blomqvist who made his debut, Victor Bouveng and Christian finished in twelfth position with their M6 GT3. “We were struggling with a broken shock absorber. It was definitely not an easy race, so I am therefore all the happier to be here”, said di Martino at the finish.
The VLN teams who raced with the Audi R8 LMS were bitterly disappointed at the marathon race in the Eifel. Not even the Busch twins Dennis and Marc, who had a faultless race together with their team mates Christian Mamerow and René Rast in the team of Twin Busch Motorsport, were able to finish better than tenth overall. Behind the Belgian WRT Team, they provided the second best result for Audi. A better result would have been possible for the double winners of the first two VLN races, Frank Stippler and Anders Fjordbach. Together with Nicki Meyr-Melnhof and Edoardo Mortara they were in sixth position with the Phoenix-Audi when Stippler had to stop shortly before the end of the race after a collision.
Porsche’s honour was saved by the Falken-Porsche 991 GT3 R: Peter Dumbreck, Wolf Henzler, Martin Ragginger and Alexandre Imperatori finished ninth.