Porsche 911 GT3 R hybrid – Click above for high-res image gallery
During Thursday's first qualifying session for this weekend's 24 Hours of Nürburgring, Porsche factory driver Joerg Bergmeister timed everything just right with the 911 GT3 R hybrid. As so often happens, rain and fog descended on the Eiffel mountains turning the 'Ring into what Jackie Stewart dubbed the "Green Hell." Bergmeister managed to get in a fast lap on the 15.8 mile long combined circuit (Nordschliefe) and grand prix circuit before the action was red-flagged. Bergmeister's 9:26.421 minute time on slicks was the second fastest time run during the session.
The race this weekend will be the big test for the hybrid 911. If things go well, the car is expected to come to the U.S. later this year to compete in the American Le Mans Series. Competition will be stiff, though, with over 200 cars competing in the big German race.
Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid defies rain and fog
Stuttgart. Right place, right time – for Porsche works driver Joerg Bergmeister (Germany), the timing at the first qualifying session of the 24 hour race was perfect. At the wheel of the Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid, he opted for slicks at the right moment before heavier rain set in again. With a lap time of 9:26.421 minutes on the 25.378 kilometre combination of the Grand Prix circuit and the Nordschleife, Bergmeister planted Porsche Team Manthey's orange and white liveried 911, with its 480 hp combustion engine supplemented by two 60 kilowatt electric motors, on second place. The German teams up with works driver Richard Lietz (Austria), Porsche junior Marco Holzer (Germany), and the former Porsche junior driver Martin Ragginger (Austria).
Because of thick fog, the first qualifying session was halted at 22.20 hours after three of the scheduled four hours. Tomorrow, the second and final two-hour qualifying session takes place at 12.45 hours, before the 38th edition of the Eifel classic takes off on Saturday at 15.00 hours. The Porsche teams were well prepared. Under cold and changeable weather conditions, they completed the first qualifying without any problems and safely covered the minimum amount of laps as required by the regulations.
Third position went to Team Mamerow Racing. Former Porsche junior Chris Mamerow (Germany) achieved the third quickest time of the field in the 911 GT3 R. Mamerow competes alongside Porsche works driver Wolf Henzler and his German compatriot Joerg Hardt.
For the title defenders from Manthey Racing, Porsche works driver Marc Lieb (Germany) claimed the quickest time with sixth. After winning three times in succession, the driver quartet returns this year to compete under team boss Olaf Manthey. Sharing driving duties are works drivers Timo Bernhard (Germany) and Romain Dumas (France) as well as experienced Manthey pilot Marcel Tiemann (Monaco).
The 911 GT3 R run by Haribo Team Manthey secured 16th position in qualifying. At the wheel of the 911 sporting the Haribo gold bear design is a racing pro line-up consisting of Lance David Arnold (Germany), Christian Menzel (Germany), Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) and Alexander Margaritis (Germany).
The squad driving the Porsche 911 GT3 RS brought home a commendable 36th place. The four men aim to show that a production vehicle is up to the challenges of a 24 hour race. Manning the vehicle for the 24 hour classic is former DTM pilot Roland Asch (Germany), race professional and TV commentator Patrick Simon (Germany), as well as two Nürburgring-experienced journalists Horst von Saurma (Germany) and Chris Harris (Great Britain).
Television station Sport1 (formerly DSF) broadcasts over 20 hours of the Nürburgring 24 hour race. For the first time, Porsche offers its German-speaking fans its own internet radio as part of a web special under www.porsche.com. In a ten-minute radio show held on the hour every hour during the race, commentator Burkhard Bechtel reports on the progress of the Porsche league, and also interviews interesting guests at the track.