Nine hours into the 24 hour enduro at the Nurburgring, Porsche's hybrid sports car is showing the benefits of extra fuel efficiency in endurance racing especially on a long track. The 911 GT3 R hybrid may not yet have the outright speed of its conventional equivalent but it can run longer between pit stops. With its electromechanical flywheel hybrid drive, the 911 can run 10 laps between fuel stops as compared to 8 or 9 laps for most other cars.
The hybrid did ran up front in the first hour before a puncture lost it time getting back to the pits. Subsequently the car made its way back up through the field passing stationary cars in the pit to get back into contention. As a result from the eighth hour the 911 hybrid is battling with an Audi R8 LMS for the lead.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid steady at the fore
Stuttgart. The 911 GT3 R Hybrid performs excellently at its first long distance race. Just after the start, the orange-and-white liveried 911 had led, only to drop back with a slow puncture and a time penalty, before gunning its way through the field to the front. From the eighth hour, an Audi and the squad at the wheel of the hybrid-Porsche have been swapping the lead position. The crew, consisting of works drivers Joerg Bergmeister (Germany) and Richard Lietz (Austria) as well as Porsche junior Marco Holzer (Germany) and Martin Ragginger (Austria), are benefitting from the innovative hybrid technology: They only need to pit every ten laps to refuel.
After being caught up in another vehicle's accident, last year's winners in the Porsche 911 GT3 R were robbed of their big chance to claim their fourth straight overall victory. Shortly before 11.30 p.m., a competitor crashed into the barriers in front of Marc Lieb (Germany) and was ricocheted across the track right into the Manthey Porsche with Lieb at the wheel. Lieb had no chance whatsoever to avoid the collision. The car, which had held a clear lead with its perfectly performing driver line-up, was so badly damaged from the incident at Mezgesfeld that team boss Olaf Manthey withdrew it from the race. "It is bitter to retire like this," said the visibly disappointed Marc Lieb, one of the winning Porsche drivers of the last three years. "It was going so well with an absolutely perfect car. We are all very disappointed." This also marked the end of the race for works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany), Romain Dumas (France) and Manthey pilot Marcel Tiemann (Monaco).
The crew at the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 RS had a frightening moment after eight hours of trouble free driving. Lapping a slower car, Patrick Simon's production-911 was nudged slightly from the side while turning into a corner. Luckily, the outcome was only a fright and several scratches. The strategy for the quartet that had mounted a spirited attack through the field to rank 16th was altered accordingly. "Drive carefully, finish," is now the tactic. Simon and his teammates Roland Asch (Germany), Horst von Saurma (Germany) and Chris Harris (Great Britain) are determined to prove that a normal street-legal vehicle from Zuffenhausen is up to the challenges of a 24 hour race.