Anthony Davidson puts the #7 Peugeot 908 on pole for Imola!

Just one week after most of the top drivers were in action at the Nürburgring 24 h, there is another endurance marathon to run!

This time it is the 6 hour race at Imola, part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC).

After Audi's recent triumph at the circuit de la sarthe, it may have been coming here, expecting Peugeot to give way to them, but this was not the case, with Anthony Davidson taking pole by over 0.6 seconds in his 908 HDI.

Audi R18 #2 only qualified 4th on the grid behind the two Peugeots and the sister car

The grid ended up being P1+P3 Peugeot, P2+P4 Audi - and no doubt there will be another tight battle later on this afternoon as the race gets underway.

BMW locked out the top two places in GTE Pro in qualifying

In the GTE Pro cars, BMW took the top two positions on the grid, but with the top 9 cars in GTE being seperated in under a second, or top 10 if you include Patrick Long's stunning lap in the 2010 spec RSR he's running in GTE AM, it is set to be a close and exciting battle!

LMP Qualifying results

1 Davidson/Bourdais (Peugeot) 1m 31.736s
2 Fässler/Berhard (Audi R18 TDI) 1m 32.354s
3 Montagny/Sarrazin (Peugeot) 1m 32.732s
4 McNish/Kristensen (Audi R18 TDI) 1m 32.974s
5 Ragues/Moreau (Oak Pescarolo-Judd) 1m 34.746s
6 Jani/Prost (Lola-Toyota) 1m 35.047s
7 Belicchi/Boullion (Lola-Toyota) 1m 35.700s
8 Collard/Tinseau/Jousse (Pescarolo-Judd) 1m 35.996s
9 Cortes/Geri/Piccini (Zytek) 1m 36.084s
10 Beche/Thiriet/Firth (Oreca-Nissan) 1m 37.208s

GTE Pro Result Qualifying
1. Müller/Farfus (BMW M3) 1:44.468
2. Werner/Lamy (BMW M3) 1:44:683
3. Melo/Vilander (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:44:691
4. Makowiecki/Ortelli (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:44:725
5. Bell/Walker (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:44:730
6. Lietz/Lieb (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) 1:44:895
7. Fisichella/Bruni (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:45:130
8. Farnbacher/Simonsen (Ferrari F458 Italia) 1:45:384
9. Pilet/Henzler (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) 1:45:467
10. Holzer/Goosens Porsche 911 GT3 RSR 1:45:767

GTE AM Result Qualifying
1. Long/Roda (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) 1:45.650
2. Cioci/Lemeret/Perazzini (Ferrari F430) 1:45:906
3. Rugolo/Jonsson/Krohn (Ferrari F 430) 1:46:216
4. Armindo/Naroc (Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) 1:46:283
5. Bornhauser/Canal/Gardel (Corvette C6-ZR1) 1:46:614

Magnificent Murcielagos master Navarra Lamborghini Murcielagos win the GT1 qualifying race in Nvarra

In the qualifying race at the Navarra circuit, for round 6 of the GT1 World championship, the two Murcielagos (#38, #37) of Winkelhock/Basseng and Schwager/Pastorelli of the all-inkl team cleaned up, taking the top two positions on the podium, with a 17 second gap to 3rd placed Marc VDS Ford GT of Baguette/Martin (#41)

The gap to third may have been less, if Martin hadn't made contact with the #23 Nissan GTR of Luhr/Krumm on the first lap!

Close racing as usual in the GT1 world championship

Frustration too for the sister Ford GT of Leinders/Hennerici (#40) which suffered an engine failure, causing it to retire, and also incur a 10 place grid drop, due to the number of engines already changed this year.

As always the finishing line up for the qualifying race is how the grid will line up for the championship race tomorrow.

Qualifying Race
138GT1Markus Winkelhock / Marc BassengLamborghini Murcielago 670 R-S1:00:33.24536
237GT1Dominik Schwager / Nicky PastorelliLamborghini Murcielago 670 R-S1:00:36.549363.304
341GT1Bertrand Baguette / Maxime MartinFord GT Matech1:00:53.6353620.390
421GT1Jamie Campbell-Walter / David BrabhamNissan GT-R1:01:00.9563627.711
54GT1Christian Hohenadel / Andrea PicciniAston Martin DB91:01:01.6063628.361
68GT1Darren Turner / Stefan MückeAston Martin DB91:01:12.7253639.480
722GT1Peter Dumbreck / Richard WestbrookNissan GT-R1:01:13.2523640.007
847GT1Dimitri Enjalbert / Michael RossiCorvette Z061:01:15.6413642.396
923GT1Lucas Luhr / Michael KrummNissan GT-R1:01:17.4963644.251
103GT1Clivio Piccione / Stef DusseldorpAston Martin DB91:01:19.5803646.335
119GT1Christoffer Nygaard / Vanina IckxFord GT Matech1:01:29.0123555.767
1240GT1Bas Leinders / Marc HennericiFord GT Matech53:07.390317:25.855
1320GT1Enrique Bernoldi / Nicky CatsburgNissan GT-R41:09.6072419:23.638
147GT1Tomas Enge / Alex MüllerAston Martin DB938:23.8902222:09.355
1511GT1Mike Hezemans / Nico VerdonckCorvette Z0631:04.3151829:28.930
1610GT1Yann Clairay / Antoine LeclercFord GT Matech22:09.5671338:23.678

Before this year's 24 hour race on the Nürburgring, ThePitwall identified, and provided a synopsis on what it thought to be the cars in with a shout of victory - and then again identifying some potential dark horses, which could throw a curve ball at the results.

Now that the 2011 race is over, we have the opportunity to go back and compare the results against predictions. We will do this in order of results for the top 20 cars.

1) Porsche 911 GT3 RSR - Result: P1

Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 RSR #18 jumping the kerbs on the way to victory

The biggest doubt over the RSR was whether it would run, with a top team. In the end, two RSRs were entered, and one of those had been entered by Olaf Manthey, with a quartet of drivers who had all won the race before - in fact Timo Bernhard has now won it a record equalling 5 times.

It was clear by the time free practice started, that the RSR was Manthey's preferred car - with the signature red win mirrors being fitted to it, and the GT3 R being fitted with Blue ones - this being the opposite of how they ran in the VLN4 a month earlier.

The RSR did the 6th fastest race lap (8.33.905), but suffered no mechanical problems, largely kept out of trouble from an accident point of view, and was consistently quick, finishing 4m33s ahead of the P2 car.

At the bottom of the dark horses feature, we indicated that our choice for the race would be the Manthey RSR, and are delighted that it did. - The King returned to conquer the 'Ring for the 4th time!

2) BMW M3 GT - Result: P2
BMW M3 GT jumping at Pflanzgarten I
The BMW M3, began with a credible defence of its crown from last year with both cars running P1, P2 early on.

Gremlins struck, and for a while neither M3 was in the top 10. Slowly the #1 car worked its way back up, making it up to P2, but this year, there wasn't a 23rd hour present to the team from Munich - the leading Porsche hung on to win the 24 hours.

Pace wise, the #7 car set the 3rd fastest lap (8:33.369), but retired 14 laps from the end, and the #1 car set the 4th fastest (8:33.656), and the #1 car was the only car to finish on the same lap as the Manthey Porsche. In doing so, it completed 2 more laps (156 in total - a new record) than it managed last year when it ran to victory.

3) Audi R8 LMS - Result: P3,P4,P5,P12,P18,P29

Audi R8 LMS #14 on its way to P3 overall
Audi have been running at the Nürburgring 24 hours for 3 years now, and for them to have not won outright must be infuriating for the company, which has so dominated Le Mans in recent years.

In the press release issued by Audi immediately after the race, some of this frustration showed:

"The dream of a first overall victory for the brand in the endurance classic in the Eifel was, however, not fulfilled. The GT2 cars of Porsche, BMW and Ferrari were superior to the GT3 cars during the 39th running of the 24-hour race. "
Thing is though, Audi set the 2nd fastest lap overall ( #17 car, 8.33.244), so they had the pace, but all their top cars got entangled in incidents, loosing time throughout the race.

#14, which finished 3rd - the highest Audi, which finished around 1 lap, or 9 minutes behind the winner, lost around 7 minutes due to losing the front splitter - and no doubt track position as a result. #15 had an accident early on in the race, necessitating an extra pit stop for a repair, and then suffered from headlight malfunction, requiring a steering wheel change..  #16 had an accident too, and #17 also suffered electronic gremlins.

So I think its a case, as mentioned in our predictions, that the R8 is simply too frail over a 24 hour distance, and this is the area which will need to be resolved if success is to follow.

4) Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 - Result: P6, P7, P11, P17, P49
Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG GT3 #22 - finished 6th
For Mercedes, it was an eminently credible debut in the ADAC 24h Rennen on the Nürburgring, even if results didn't quite match up to expectations.

Certainly the performance was there - but after the quickest Merc (the Mamerow one) crashed out in the early hours, it was a challenge  for the others to keep pace with the leading Porsche.

The Heico #32 car ran 2nd or 3rd for most of the race, before unfortunately succumbing to misfortune a couple of hours from the end, which lost them 2 laps, and dropped them to 7th. This meant the highest placed Mercedes was the Black Falcon #22 car, which finished 6th.

Interestingly the Mercedes' fastest laptime in the race wasn't that hot - an 8m37 - but this is probably due to the quickest cars suffering problems - as most of the quickest times, were set in the last few hours, as temperatures rose.

5) Ferrari F458
Farnbacher Racing Ferrari F458 finished 8th, but set the fastest lap
After qualifying on pole, talk in the paddock was that the Ferrari was going to walk away with this race - it seemed so much quicker than anything else.

So it must have been some surprise to be over taken by Chris Mamerow in his SLS on the first lap! Once things settled down, the Farnbacher car did return to first place, and ran more or less there for the first 4 hours.

Unfortunately at around 8pm, it came into the pits for an unscheduled stop, with suspension trouble. This lost it about 4 laps, and with that the chance of victory.

What happened next embodied the spirit of this great race, as the driver quartet of Farnbacher, Simonsen, Melo and Seefried, set about some thrilling driving, setting fastest lap after fastest lap (the quickest one of the race an 8m31.407 - coming just 6 laps from the end), and flying back up the order.

To secure a top 10 finish and a class win, may sound disappointing compared to the 2nd overall last year for Farnbacher, but it was a classy performance in a new car, and I'm sure they will return to do battle again next year.

6) Porsche 911 GT3 R - Result: P8, P13, P16, P22, P48
Frikadelli Racing GT3 R #26 finished P9
For the GT3 R, the odds were against it, once the latest Balance of Performance was announced. Being heavily restricted from a power perspective, limited its ability to cut through traffic compared to some of its peers in the GT3 Class (e.g. Mercedes, Audi)

One of the top teams, Manthey Racing clearly felt the restrictions went too far to the point of making the car uncompetitive for outright victory, which is why they brought their old RSR out of retirement.

Even without the big Manthey car, there were several top GT3 Rs running, including the Haribo Manthey car, the Frikadelli one, and the one from Falken Motorsports.

The Falken one suffered an engine failure after 3 hours, requiring it top be replaced, ruining chances of a top finish, but they returned to action, to evaluate how well the Falken Tyres on it worked compared to the Michelins, on the other cars - and were suitably impressed, as their 8:35:310 was the quickest GT3 R lap.

The Haribo car experienced some difficulties mid morning, dropping it out of a clear top 10 position, to 13th overall, leaving the Frikadelli #26 car to be the only GT3 R with its finish in P9.

7) Porsche 911 GT3 MR - Result: P10

Wochen Spiegel Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 MR #12
The only car in the top 20, which wasn't strictly in our predictions was the #12 Porsche GT3 MR, sponsored by WochenSpiegel.

This car started life as a GT3 R, but has been modified by Manthey to the point that it no longer met the GT3 homologation required for the FIA GT3 SP9 class. As such it was running in the SP7 class, along with the RSR.

8) Audi TT RS - Result: P14

Raeder Motorsport Audi TT RS
The mini Audi - the TT RS, scored the result of being the best front wheel drive car in the race, winning the SP4T class in the progress.
The cars looked very trick - with dive plates and huge rear wing, and the pace of them (8m49) was very impressive.

9) Lamborghini Gallardo LP600 - Result: P15

"Team Stuck" - Reiter engineering Lamborghini LP600 #34
The Reiter Lamborghini LP600 driven by 3 Stucks (Hans-Joachim, Ferdinand, and Johannes) along with Denis Rotek was in line for a top 10 finish before suffering a gearbox trouble.

It was I believe the first time the 3 Stucks had raced together, and fitting that for Hans-Joachim Stuck's final race that they scored a good result.

10) Porsche 911 GT3 Cup
Porsche 911 GT3 Cup #55
The final different model in the top 20 overall, was the Porsche 911 GT3 Cup. In fact two cars, finished the #55 in 19th, and #56 in 20th place.

Considering the Cup car is designed around sprint races, rather than endurance, its a very impressive finish for both of these entrants.

Obviously there were some disappointments, such as the Golf GT24, the Lexus LFAs and the Aston  Martin Zagatos, but overall I think our predictions were pretty good.

Congratulations to all those who took part, and especially the winning squad led by Olaf Manthey, driven by Lucas Luhr, Timo Bernard, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb!

Am looking forward to 2011 already!

Manthey Porsche winning the ADAC 24h Rennen 2011 on the Nürburgring

4 Starts, 4 Wins.

The Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 RSR has an unrivalled record in the ADAC 24h Rennen on the Nürburgring. It has been champion in 2007, 2008, 2009 and now 2011 as well.

It didn't run last year, as the balance of performance favoured the GT3 R (GT3 Spec) over the RSR (GT2 spec). This year however, with the performance of the GT3 R reined in, following the revised balance of performance, it was possible, to return the RSR to action,with a little ingenuity on the part of Olaf Manthey, and no doubt Porsche themselves.

Going for more power was not an option here, the RSR having to run at 430bhp only with restrictors to enforce that so the solution for performance was found through aerodynamics - keeping the high downforce which makes the RSR unbeatable through the corners, but reducing drag, to improve economy and top speed.

The top 3 finishers! Porsche, BMW, Audi!

It was an unbelievably close race though, with last year's winner - the BMW M3 GT #1 finishing 2nd, just 4 minutes behind, after a record setting 156 laps of the hallowed circuit through the Eifel.

After strong performances throughout the race, last our gremlins pushed the #32 Heico Mercedes SLS down to 7th, and thus enabling the #14 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS to take the last spot on the podium

The podium!

As a closing comment, it has been an awesome race from start to finish this year, definitely rivalling those of the last two encounters. The determination of the contestants - for example the #2 Farnbacher Ferrari, which fought up to finish 8th, after the set back it suffered in early evening, and also the #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche GT3 R, which was at the back after a requiring an engine swap out overnight, but continued putting quick laps in throughout.

Top 10 - Results

1: #18 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Lieb/Bernhard/Dumas/Luhr)
2: #1 BMW Motorsport BMW M3 GT (Müller/Farfus/Alzen/Lamy)
3: #14 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS (Basseng/Fässler/Piccini/Stippler)
4: #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ( Stippler/Hennerici/Haase/Winkelhock)
5: #16 ABT Sports Line Audi R8 LMS ( Ekström/Scheider/Werner/Abt)
6: #22 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG ( Heyer/Jäger/Bleekmolen/Seyffarth)
7 #32 Heico Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG (Arnold/Margartis/Brück/Frankenhout)
8: #2 Farnbacher Ferrari F458 (Farnbacher/Melo/Simonsen/Seefried)
9: #26 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (Abbelen/Schmitz/Kentenich/Bergmeister)
10: #12 Wochenspiegel Team Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 MR ( Weiss/Kainz/Jacobs/Krumbach)

Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (#18) continues to lead

Nerves are on edge now as we enter the final 4 hours of the 2011 ADAC 24 Rennen on the Nürburgring. Manthey are still leading with their #18 RSR, but we just had a big demonstration of how frail one's place in the race can be, as the Porsche Hybrid crashed out at Schwedenkreuz.

Edit: There was misinformation there, circulated by Audi_sport on twitter - the hybrid was tagged and spun just before SX, but encountered no damage, and continued to lap, eventually finishing 28th overall, due to the two delays due to the differential flange replacement.

Porsche 911 GT3 R Hybrid 

In second place last year's winner continues to lurk just a few minutes behind - the BMW Motorsport #1 M3 GT, along with the 3rd placed #32 Heico Mercedes SLS, and the #14 Audi R8 LMS.

Many cars are now showing battle scars from the night!

Top 10 after 20 hours:

1: #18 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3 RSR (Lieb/Bernhard/Dumas/Luhr)
2: #1 BMW Motorsport BMW M3 GT (Müller/Farfus/Alzen/Lamy)
3: #32 Heico Motorsport Mercedes SLS AMG (Arnold/Margartis/Brück/Frankenhout)
4: #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS ( Stippler/Hennerici/Haase/Winkelhock)
5: #14 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS (Basseng/Fässler/Piccini/Stippler)
6: #16 ABT Sports Line Audi R8 LMS ( Ekström/Scheider/Werner/Abt)
7: #22 Black Falcon Mercedes SLS AMG ( Heyer/Jäger/Bleekmolen/Seyffarth)
8: #8 Haribo Team Manthey Porsche GT3 R (Westbrook/Menzel/Sturgsberg/Riegel)
9: #12 Wochenspiegel Team Manthey Porsche 911 GT3 MR ( Weiss/Kainz/Jacobs/Krumbach)
10: #26 Frikadelli Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (Abbelen/Schmitz/Kentenich/Bergmeister)