Nurburgring 24h: Porsche in command after six hours
Manthey Racing Porsche is leading the Nurburgring 24 Hours after six hours, after Kevin Estre took the lead with a bizarre overtake on the Black Falcon Mercedes.
Polesitter Maro Engel took an early lead in what was a frantic first stint around the legendary 25-kilometre track. Engel had to fight off both the Manthey Racing Porsches before losing the lead after the first stint, only to regain it because of a flat tire for the #1 Manthey Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki, Richard Lietz, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy.
The race settled in the following hours but the #911 brought some fire back into the race after Estre took over the car from Laurens Vanthoor. The French driver closed the gap from almost 20 seconds to Dirk Muller and passed the German with a gutsy move on the Dottinger Hohe.
Maximilian Gotz was in the second Mercedes at the six-hour mark, the third-placed #48 Team HTP car. Sven Muller was the fastest of the Frikadelli cars in fourth ahead of the lone Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus of Thomas Mutsch, Felipe Fernandez-Laser, Franck Mailleux and Andreas Simonsen.
The best Audi in the race was in sixth place after six hours with Frederic Vervisch in the #4 Team Phoenix car. Black Falcon had a total of three cars in the top 10, with the #6 of Patrick Assenheimer, Yelmer Buurman, Nico Bastian and Gabriele Piana in seventh place, just in front of the sister car driven by Thomas Jager, Hubert Haupt, Maxi Buhk and Luca Stolz.
Audi Sport Team Land held ninth place while GetSpeed Performance rounded out the top 10.
Early drama for BMW
There was plenty of disaster for BMW in the opening quarter of the race, with four of the Bavarian marque's five top cars dropping out of the race early.
The #101 Walkenhorst BMW of Christian Krognes was an early victim. The car moved up to fourth after the first set of pitstops, but pulled off halfway in its second stint with suspension problems.
Problems also struck both of the ROWE Racing cars. The #99 M6 GT3 pulled out in the early stages after a collision with another car as the impact broke some essential parts of the suspension which could not be fixed.
At the end of the third hour the #98 ROWE BMW driven by Mikkel Jensen also retired following a collision which caused damage to the cooling system of the car.
Timo Scheider's chances of Green Hell-victory went up in smoke when he was hit in the back by a TCR-class Hyundai, which caused a massive crash for the former DTM champion.
One other notable retirement in the first six hours of the race was the #55 Ferrari 488 GT3, which suffered a spectacular-looking fire.
Nurburgring 24h: Mercedes sweeps front row in final qualifying
Nurburgring 24h: Porsche stays in front of Mercedes