The #28 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Connor De Phillippi and Robin Frijns have claimed victory in a thrilling VLN 6 at the Nurburgring, conquering Porsche in an enthralling battle for the win.
The Land Audi bobbled slightly on the start, but charged back through the field in the mid stages of the race to take the checkered flag and Land Motorsports first win of the VLN season.
The opening hours of the race were dictated by the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 and the #911 Manthey Racing Porsche 911 GT3-R.
Patrick Pilet – who was behind the wheel of the Manthey Porsche in the opening stint – took the lead from his pole position start as Frank Stippler in the Phoenix Audi fell back from his second place start.
Most of the cars got through turn one cleanly, except for poor Mick Di Martino in the #100 BMW M6 GT3 who had a harmless spin on the outside of the corner.
The #8 Haribo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 was crossed off the list early on when the car pulled off at turn five with a technical issue.
Meanwhile, out front, the battle continued. Stippler in the Audi lead for most of the first hour holding a constant five second gap to Pilet’s Porsche behind.
As the first hour came to a close, the pair began to squabble hard. Pilet in the Porsche assumed the lead of the race somewhere on the Nordschleife, with Stippler’s 5.5-second gap fading to nothing most likely the result of a small mistake.
Stippler got back past Pilet with a pass at the end of the Dottinger Hohe, but Pilet returned the favour later on at turn five, aggressively re-taking the lead.
At the end of the next lap – lap six – both cars dived into the pits as the rain started to teem down on some sections of the circuit.
Romain Dumas jumped into the #911 Porsche while Nikolaj Moller-Madsen took charge of the Phoenix Audi.
The #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche was giving chase behind the two leading cars, followed by the #28 Land Motorsport Audi who sat in fourth place, but both didn’t have the pace to keep up with the leading duo in the early stages.
When Connor De Phillippi got behind the wheel, the #28 Land Audi switched on like a light bulb and began to charge forward as the rain suddenly disappeared.
The American driver cleared the Falken Porsche and set his sights on second place, which was constantly changing as the leaders continued to duel.
At the end of the second pit-stop sequence, the Phoenix Audi re-assumed the lead of the race, but the Land Audi had really closed in on the leading duo.
As the cars exited the pits, they were everything but separated with just over five seconds dividing the top three.
Pilet had got back in the #911, while Stippler climbed back aboard the #15 Phoenix Audi.
The #28 Land Motorsport Audi went from third to first in the matter of a lap, De Phillippi seizing the lead from Stippler out on the Nordschleife on lap number 17, leaving Stippler and Pilet to scrap over P2.
The leading pair, became the leading quartet as Klaus Bachler hooked onto the back of the #911 Porsche in his #4 Falken Porsche.
With 60-minutes remaining and 20-laps completed, the #28 Land Audi lead from the #4 Falken Porsche, which took the second courtesy of a fiery Bachler behind the wheel.
Frank Stippler still held onto third while Pilet dropped to fourth in the #911 Porsche as the next round of pit-stops began.
24-laps down and Pilet pitted from fourth position to hand the #911 Manthey Porsche over to Romain Dumas again, but Dumas lost major time when he got stuck behind a rescue vehicle out on track.
The top three pitted a few laps later, #28, #4 and the #15 all diving into the lane at once. They entered in that order, and left in the same as De Phillippi handed the leading #28 Land Audi over to Robin Frijns.
Martin Ragginger was inserted into the #4 Falken Porsche, and Nicolaj Moller-Madsen was put back into the #15 Phoenix Racing Audi as the light at the end of the tunnel appeared!
When the checkered flag dropped, it was the Land Audi who crossed the line in first place to claim the victory after 28-laps of gruelling action.
The Phoenix Racing Audi managed to pop itself back up into second place as the #4 Falken Motorsports Porsche took out the last spot on the podium.
The #911 Manthey Porsche ended their ‘what could’ve been’ race in fourth, after the pole sitter suffered a few setbacks throughout the four hour race.
The #26 Mucke Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Christian Hohenadel and Edoardo Mortara rounded out the top five after starting all the way down in 14th position.