Christodoulou wins closest-ever Nürburgring 24
1st June 2016
Adam Christodoulou became only the fourth British winner of the Nürburgring 24 Hours after a dramatic final lap that saw the No. 4 AMG-Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 take victory by the narrowest margin in event history.
It is the biggest win of the 26-year-old’s career so far and his first since becoming an official AMG driver over the winter.
After 24 hours of hard racing around the most difficult circuit in the world, Christodoulou shared the top step of the podium with 2013 winner Bernd Schneider, Manuel Metzger and Maro Engel, who overtook the AMG-Team HTP Motorsport no. 29 driven by Christian Hohenadel on the 134th and last racing lap.
“It all came down to whether we were going to do an extra lap or not,” Christodoulou explained. “We had the fuel to do it, but we were uncertain whether the other car did, so we had to keep the pressure on.
“But once we realised that the opportunity was there and we could force an extra lap out of the race, of course we went for it. Maro drove his socks off and was hunting him down, he saw the gap and he went for it. Those last two laps went from wanting the race to go on longer to carry on the fight, to the checkered flag not coming soon enough! The whole thing feels a bit surreal, I shouted that hard when we got the lead, I think I’ve lost my voice!”
Adverse weather conditions are almost to be expected at the Nürburgring, but few could have predicted the extent to which it would arrive in the first hour of the race. After starting 17th, Christodoulou had made his way up to tenth in the first two laps and passed the no. 2 Audi for ninth through Fuchsruhe,just as the rain started to hit between Adenauer Forst and Kesselchen.
The vast majority of the field including Christodoulou stayed out on the slick tyres they had started with, only to find hailstones the size of golfballs and rivers of water at the fast left-hander at Schweudenkreutz on the following lap. As several of his rivals aquaplaned off the road, Christodoulou quickly took stock of the situation and slowed down, crucially managing to keep the car on the road until the red flags were thrown. at you don’t catch any of them at a bad point.
Christodoulou’s next stint came at around 11:30pm as the track began to dry. Christodoulou reported a vibration a few laps into his stint and pitted for a new set of tyres, which put the AMG-Team Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 off-strategy withAMG-Team HTP Motorsport and would allow them to run longer in the final stint.
After a few hours rest while Engel charged up to second, Christodoulou returned to the cockpit as daylight made a welcome return and on Lap 92 set the fastest lap of the race at that point as he battled over the lead with the no. 88 Haribo Racing Team-AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3.
Exiting the car with around five hours to go, all he could do was watch as Metzger and Schneider completed their stints, before Engel took over for the finish.
“I think every driver gets nervous before a race, but watching from the pits I was falling apart starting to realise we might pull this off,” he said. “The last two laps are always chaos because if you don’t cross the checkered flag you aren’t classified, so suddenly with five minutes to go there must have been 20 cars that shot out of the pitlane, so you just hope that you don’t catch any of them at a bad point.
“In the end my team-mates did a stunning job, every stint they did was full attack. The boys from AMG-Team Black Falcon executed all of their pitstops perfectly, which is something that the team has always put a lot of work into. For Black Falcon to win it a second time, so soon after the first one in 2013 shows just how strong they are.
“I’d like to dedicate this one to Sean Edwards because this was the last 24 Hour race that he raced and won, with Black Falcon a few years ago. I only met him a few times, but when I watched him win here, I remember thinking ‘one day that’s where I want to be, I want to be fighting at the front of this race’. I feel very fortunate to have been given thatopportunity and would like to thank everybody at AMG-Team Black Falcon and everyone involved for all their hard work.”
Track Days / Test Days / MotorsportDays.com