Winning 911 GT3 R overcomes tough conditions at the 2021 Nurburgring 24-hour endurance race
Porsche has scored its 13th victory at the 2021 edition of the Nurburgring 24 Hours, held on June 3 to 6 at the iconic racetrack in Nurburg, Germany. Porsche’s Manthey customer racing team, with works drivers Kevin Estre, Michael Christensen and Matteo Cairoli, crossed the finish line in first place at the wheel of the No. 911 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The Nurburgring 24 Hours has been held annually since 1970, save for three years because of the oil crisis in the mid-1970s and construction work on the track in 1983. In recent years, the event is officially called the ADAC Total 24 Hour Race.
This year’s edition of the legendary endurance race was marred by bad weather, causing a 14-hour red flag session on Saturday evening. Prior to this, the race had started in the afternoon under difficult track conditions, during which period Estre gave an inspired performance in the 911 GT3 R on the partly flooded track. Within four laps, Estre had charged through the field from 11th spot to take the lead. The identical 911 GT3 R cars of Rutronik Racing, Huber Motorsport, KCMG, Frikadelli Racing and Falken Motorsports made up many positions until the beginning of the 14-hour break at 9:30 p.m. Thick fog caused the interruption.
At the race’s restart shortly before Sunday noon, Estre again treated around 10,000 spectators in the grandstands to some gripping track action. Behind the wheel of the “Grello” 911 GT3 R, the 32-year-old charged from sixth place to the front of the field, handing the car off to Christensen while holding on to first place. Christensen then turned in consistently fast laps to stay in the lead.
In the last hour of racing, Estre again took the wheel to successfully fend off all attacks, and took the checkered flag by a margin of 8.817 seconds. The Manthey team’s win was complemented by strong finishes made by other Porsche customer racing teams, resulting in Porsche securing four places in the top 10 of the Nurburgring 24-hour race leaderboard—the most by a manufacturer.
Fritz Enzinger, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport, said the Manthey team did a flawless job as the drivers gave a terrific show at the wheel of their 911 GT3 R.
“Our customer teams can be very proud of their achievements. Unfortunately, the strong performance was not always rewarded accordingly as numerous vehicles had to retire after becoming entangled in other competitors’ accidents,” he said.
The Falken Motorsport team battled for a podium spot to the last lap in the No. 44 911 GT3 R, ending in fourth place. The team’s No. 33 sister car clinched ninth place while Huber Motorsport finished in eighth place. In the Pro-Am class, Huber Motorsport was the unchallenged leader.
Estre noted this year’s Nurburgring race may have been “unusually short” but it was “extremely intense and exhausting.”
Porsche customer race teams have used the 911 GT3 R in various international and national series since 2019. Based on the 911 GT3 RS production sports car, the 911 GT3 R officially debuted with a 500 hp, 4.0-liter flat-six engine in January 2019 at the Daytona 24-hour classic. Before this, Porsche customer teams had tested the new race car at endurance runs as part of the 2018 VLN series at the Nurburgring. Development work has seen the race car produce more than 550 hp, as well as more efficient aerodynamics, improved handling and optimized safety levels.
Charles E. Buban is an old timer in the Philippine automotive journalism scene. He first started covering the automotive beat in 2003, writing news and reviews of new models and car tech, among other car-related stuff. When not writing about cars, he could often be seen riding his mountain bike or doing long walks in the hope of catching a couple of legendary Pokemons.