Green Hell 2023
Nearly 250,000 witness another classic Nürburgring 24 Hour race.
Outstanding performances in front of a monster crowd, but title number seven eludes Audi Sport this year.
22 May, 2023
131 cars started the gruelling race around the famed 20.8km circuit
Arguably the world’s toughest endurance race, the Nürburgring 24 Hours, turned it on again over the weekend in front of more than 235,000 fans, but the seventh title for Audi Sport remained out of reach.
Despite some spirited drives and outstanding individual performances, 2023 did add to the brand’s outstanding six wins over the past decade, with the highest placed of four factory R8 LMS GT3s finishing in sixth outright. But the finishing order didn’t truly reflect the performances around the Nürburgring over the gruelling 24 hours, with the #39 car of Christopher Haase, Christopher Mies and Patric Niederhauser starting from 16th on the grid and producing a flawless drive to avoid numerous incidents and fight their way up through the order to finish sixth.
The #16 Scherer Sport PHX R8 also had a strong race and was on track to finish in the top 10 when a puncture in the final hour dropped Michele Beretta, Kim-Luis Schramm and Audi Sport drivers Ricardo Feller and Markus Winkelhock back to 11th outright.
Last year’s winner Frédéric Vervisch, who shared the driving duties in #1 Audi Sport Team Scherer PHX car with Mattia Drudi, Ricardo Feller and Dennis Lind, led the race at various times during the first 12 hours. But shortly after the halfway point, he hit an oil patch in the dark and collected a barrier, prematurely ending his race and any chance of defending the title.
Seconds later, the number #5 Audi of the Scherer Sport PHX team, which had been among the top three at the beginning, suffered exactly the same fate even with the tremendously experienced Audi Sport driver Frank Stippler at the wheel.
The sentimental favourites in #40 – former DTM champions Mike Rockenfeller, Timo Scheider and Martin Tomczyk – showed their class and experience and drove a blemish-free race to finish just outside the top 10 in P12, while Audi Sport Team Car Collection’s number 22 came in one position behind #40, after Gilles Magnus clipped a guard rail on Sunday afternoon and resultant work required to replace two track rods saw them slip out of the top 10.
The weekend marked the start of celebrations for 40 years of the Audi Sport brand
'We saw a fast and tough race with a great diversity of brands in the front field'
Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing
“We saw a fast and tough race with a great diversity of brands in the front field,” said Chris Reinke, Head of Audi Sport customer racing. “Wolfgang and Christian Land’s squad in #39 was flawless for 24 hours. We would have liked to defend our title. Thanks to everyone for their professional efforts and congratulations to Ferrari on their first victory.”
It was not the result the team had been hoping for, but given the very nature of this race, every finish at Nürburgring 24 Hour is an achievement. The weekend also marked the start of celebrations for the 40th anniversary of Audi’s performance subsidiary, Audi Sport GmbH. Throughout the weekend, special exhibitions and the presence of past and present R and RS classics helped mark the event at a place which has played such an important part in the birth and continued growth of the Audi Sport brand.
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