In an exceptional setting with 235,000 spectators in the stands, Ferrari wrote a page in motorsport history by winning its first 24 Hours of Nürburgring, one of the world’s most prestigious endurance races, now in its fifty-first year. The Frikadelli team’s 296 GT3, crewed by David Pittard, Felipe Laser, Nick Catsburg and Earl Bamber took the chequered flag in triumph after 162 laps, the longest distance ever completed at the German event.
First place in the SP9 Pro Am class for the 296 GT3 of WTM by Rinaldi Racing rounded off a perfect weekend.
SP9 class (GT3). After winning the qualifying race in April, the 296 GT3 of Frikadelli Racing Team came to the Nürburgring, targeting an important result. It lined up as one of 136 crews on the grid, renewing the tradition of one of the world’s biggest and most demanding races on the 25-kilometre-plus track that combines the Nordschleife and the GP track.
Since the green flag on Saturday at 4 p.m., the team remained among the leaders, proving it had what it took to fight for victory. Speed and consistent pace allowed the Germans Pittard and Laser, Dutchman Catsburg and New Zealander Bamber to move into an early lead, occupying top spot for most of the race. In the only tricky moment, early on, when the 296 GT3 suffered some damage to the bodywork and rear extractor due to a puncture, the technicians did the repairs in record time. They used the car’s design features to stay within the time window for pit stop tyre change and refuelling, without therefore accumulating any delay.
In the finale, the German team’s excellent strategy allowed them to anticipate the twentieth pit stop. Thus Pittard, at the wheel for the final stint, could protect his lead against the BMW of Dries Vanthoor, who finished 41 seconds behind.
SP9 Pro Am class. The Prancing Horse recorded another success over the weekend, with a class victory for the 296 GT3 of WTM by Rinaldi Racing. The professional and gentleman driver crew of Leonard Weiss, Jochen Krumbach, Daniel Keilwitz and Indy Dontje (seventh overall at the chequered flag) drove the number 20. The car added lustre to this feat by setting the fastest overall time of 8’08’’006.
The third Ferrari 296 GT3, that of Racing One, competing in the SP9 Pro Am category, crossed the line in fifteenth overall and fourth in class with Christian Kohlhaas, Stefan Aust, Luca Ludwig and Johannes Stengel.
Roll of honour. The new 296 GT3 debuted in January at the 24 Hours of Daytona, round one of the IMSA SportsCar Championship Endurance Cup.
It took its first class podium (SP9 Pro Am) in March, again at the Nürburgring in the colours of the Frikadelli team, with a second place in the first round of the NLS. In April, in the same championship, Racing One had claimed its first class victory (SP9 Pro Am), while – as mentioned – Frikadelli scored its first overall win in the four-hour qualifying race. The 296 GT3’s podiums so far include a third place in round one of the Michelin Le Mans Cup, in Barcelona, with AF Corse; and a runner-up finish in the GT3 Pro class in round one of the GT World Challenge America in New Orleans with Conquest Racing.
Antonello Coletta, Head of Ferrari Attività Sportive GT: “The 296 GT3’s win today at the 24 Hours of Nürburgring is a historic, long-sought victory that makes us extremely happy and proud. To have interrupted the German manufacturers’ many years of hegemony over this race in this top-level competitive scenario is a truly incredible achievement. To win on what is recognised as the world’s most challenging track, certainly, one of the most complete and demanding, with two victories and finishing with all three cars shows that the 296 GT3 project is solid and that, with a non-penalising Balance of Performance, its performance meets expectations. We have invested ideas, innovations, solutions and an unparalleled engineering effort into this car, not least to enable the teams to intervene quickly in critical situations, as today’s race highlighted when the leading car suffered a puncture. I want to congratulate Frikadelli Racing, which has pursued this victory for years and can now deservedly celebrate a historic achievement, as well as Rinaldi Racing, a team with a long association with Ferrari, for winning in the Pro Am class and giving us a truly memorable weekend”.