Arguably the world’s toughest endurance race, the 2012 Nürburgring 24 Hours ended with the Audi Sport Team Phoenix R8 LMS ultra capturing the victory after 155 grueling laps on the ‘Green Hell’.
It’s the first victory for the German automaker at the famous Nürburgring 24 race with drivers Marc Basseng, Christopher Haase, Frank Stippler, and Markus Winkelhock at the wheel. Second place also went to Audi with Chris Mamerow, Christian Abt, Michael Ammermüller, and Armin Hahne finishing behind their fellow Audi teammates while representing Mamerow racing.
Third place went to the Hankook-Team Heico Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 driven by Christian Frankenhout, Andreas Simonsen, Pierre Kaffer, and Lance David Arnold who barely edged out the Wochenspiegel-Porsche 911 GT3 R with Marc Lieb, Romain Dumas, Lucas Luhr, and Richard Lietz behind the wheel.
As expected, the race was not without any drama with less than one-third of the 31 GT3-spec race cars having trouble-free races. Team Schubert’s BMW Z4 GT3 held the pole and the race early on but lost six laps from a driveshaft failure. Its sister car experienced gearbox issues after leading, leaving the race down to fellow German automakers Audi and Mercedes-Benz to face off.
Audi’s top entry, the number-2 Phoenix car, crashed in the early morning after rain fell in the 15th hour. The ROWE Racing Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 took over the lead before it found trouble with a suspension failure that ultimately took it out of the race with six hours to go.
This is the fourth Nürburgring 24 Hour attempt for the Audi R8 LMS race car and marks a historic 1-2 sweep along with Audi’s first win. As for Team Phoenix, it’s enjoying its second win after capturing the title in 2003 with an Opel Astra V8 Coupe.
“It was a great weekend for us, for the whole team,” Winkelhock said. “We had a perfect car that had no problems. It’s just amazing to stand on the podium. It was a really tough race and is really competitive.”