by Adrian-Liviu Dorofte

AMG Customer Sports in the 24 Hours Nürburgring: Third place for the SLS AMG GT3

After 24 hours and 155 driven laps the AMG customer sports teams crossed the finish line with three of the six entered SLS AMG GT3. The gullwing car with race number 66 of the Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport, which finished the race with the highest position and was driven by Lance David Arnold (GER), Christiaan Frankenhout (NL), Pierre Kaffer (GER) und Andreas Simonsen (S) ended the endurance race in the third overall position after a commanding finish. The sister car with race number 65, which was driven by double starter Lance David Arnold (GER), Kenneth Heyer (GER), Alexandros Margaritis (GER) and Bernd Schneider (GER), had to end the race in the 152nd lap in the third position approximately 15 minutes prior to the end of the race because of an engine cooling circuit failure.

The SLS AMG GT3 of ROWE RACING with race number 21 which was driven by Mark Bullitt (USA), Marko Hartung (GER), Roland Rehfeld (GER) and Michael Zehe (GER) finished tenth. The sister car with race number 22 and Klaus Graf (GER), Thomas Jäger (GER), Alexander Roloff (GER) and Jan Seyffarth (GER) as drivers had to end the race on Sunday morning while being in the front position because of problems with the right wheel suspension at the rear.

The Team Black Falcon came 14th with race number 16, which was driven by Christian Bracke (GER), Andrii Lebed (UA), Hannes Plesse (GER) and Reinhold Renger (GER). The sister car with race number 15, which was driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen (NL), Sean Edwards (GB), Manuel Metzger (GER) and Ralf Schall (GER) started in the third position and had to end the race already towards the end of the fourth lap at Döttinger Höhe because of a tyre failure.

In the commanding race with only slight discrepancies between the leading cars in the GT3 category, numerous changes in the lead took place. The SLS AMG GT3s with race numbers 65 and 66 of the Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport as well as number 22 of ROWE RACING were able to quickly establish themselves among the front runners and all of them took over the lead at different times of the race.

Ola Källenius, chairman of the board, Mercedes-AMG GmbH:
„We are proud of all three of the customer teams which took part in the 24 Hours Nürburgring with the SLS AMG GT3. Congratulations to the entire Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport for finishing third.

Uli Fritz, head of AMG customer sports:
„With the third place for the customer team Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport we finished with respectable results with our AMG customer sports programme compared with numerous teams which are supported by their company. Due to various problems, we were unfortunately not able to cross the finish line with three cars, which had proved competitive in the qualifying as well as the race.

Pierre Kaffer, Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport, race number 66:We are happy that our strategy to put our direct competitor under pressure towards the end of the race was successful, so that it was possible for us to finish among the top three. However, it is a pity that our sister car had to end the race 15 minutes prior to time. I want to thank my team colleagues and the Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport for the perfectly prepared car.“

Norbert Brückner, team manager Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport: „It was a narrow and commanding 24 hours race. We are satisfied with the third place – however, it is clearly very disappointing that our sister car had to end the race only 15 minutes prior to end. I want to thank all members of the Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport.“

Thomas Jäger, ROWE RACING, race number 22:
We are obviously disappointed by the fact that being in the front position, we had to abandon our chances to win prior to the end of the race because of technical difficulties with the rear wheel suspension. Until 10 o'clock today, our SLS AMG GT3 ran without any problems. Especially when it rained on early Sunday morning the gullwing car with the Dunlop rain tyres ran fantastically. My team colleague Klaus Graf drove by far the fastest laps in the field. After the race is before the race and that is why I am already looking forward to the 24 Hours next year. I want to thank the entire team of ROWE RACING. Congratulations to the Hankook Team HEICO Motorsport for the third overall position.

Anniversary edition: Fortieth jubilee of the famous endurance race

For many motorsports fans, the 24 Hours Nürburgring is the annual highlight in the motorsports season. 235,000 spectators came to watch the famous endurance race in the Eifel, which was held for the fortieth time in 2012. The anniversary edition of the race which is 24 hours long was held at the 25 kilometres long combination of the Nürburgring Nordschleife ("north loop") and the Grand Prix track. 169 cars and 650 drivers from 34 nations faced the competition, while 31 cars were entered in start positions in the most efficient and popular GT3 category.

Six Instructors of the AMG Driving Academy employed in the race

The six instructors of the AMG Driving Academy supporting the SLS AMG GT3 customer teams in the 24 Hours Nürburgring were Lance David Arnold, Thomas Jäger, Roland Rehfeld, Reinhold Renger, Bernd Schneider and Jan Seyffarth. Chief instructor Reinhold Renger is responsible for the entire programme and the specific course of instruction. It is part of the AMG Driving Academy's philosophy that the participants profit from the knowhow of the professional drivers – this is perfectly implemented in the MASTERS SLS AMG GT3.

MASTERS SLS AMG GT3: The highest level in the AMG Driving Academy programme deploys the racing version of the gullwing model as a training vehicle. With Bernd Schneider and Thomas Jäger as competent partners, the instructors, which were also responsible for all development and test drives of the SLS AMG GT3, are employed in the race. The AMG Driving Academy participants benefit from the modular design of the MASTERS SLS AMG GT3: four complementary stages guide the aspiring racing drivers to the finishing line – EXPERIENCE, WARM-UP, TRAINING and COMPETITION. Participants can take part in all MASTERS events in their own SLS AMG GT3 vehicles or in corresponding cars provided by AMG.

British GT Championship as framework programme at the Nürburgring

The third and fourth of the British GT Championship took place on May 18th and 19th of 2012 as framework programme of the 24 Hours Nürburgring. Both of the races were 60 minutes long and were held at the Grand Prix track of the Nürburgring. The British AMG customer sports team Preci-Spark with the twins David und Godfrey Jones as drivers of the SLS AMG GT3 with race number 22 finished sixth and tenth.

* Official photos and details courtesy of Mercedes-AMG GmbH *

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