A sensational qualifying, a promising start phase, two early setbacks and then a 21-hour race to catch up and finish in the top ten: The 24-hour race had everything to offer for the ABT Sportsline team on its comeback. At the finish, Kelvin van der Linde, Marco Mapelli, Jordan Pepper and Nicki Thiim fought their way to ninth place in the 136-car grid. It was ABT’s tenth appearance on the notorious Nordschleife and the first with the Lamborghini brand.
“A huge thank you to our whole team who did a zero-mistake job here at the Nürburgring for a week,” said Hans-Jürgen Abt, CEO of the ABT Group, who watched the race in the pits. “The finish in the top ten is a respectable success at our comeback, which everyone in the team and at our partner Lamborghini can be proud of – a promising start to our collaboration. Nevertheless, with this car, the strong team and a bit more race luck, much more would have been possible and also deserved.” The race marked the start of a new motorsport partnership with the Italian sports car brand, which is designed for the long term. ABT’s tuning portfolio will also be expanded to include the Lamborghini brand in 2023 with offerings for the spectacular Urus.
After three absolutely smooth qualifying sessions, Kelvin van der Linde caused the first sensation of the race week in Friday evening’s individual time trials when he finished third on the grid in the only Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 in the field. Marco Mapelli drove the start and took the lead as early as the second lap. However, the anticipation of a possible top result did not last long: two tire punctures in the second and third hours of the race, the causes of which are still unclear, threw the number 27 car back to 35th place with a large gap.
What followed was a bravura race to catch up by the four racers, whose car became one of the crowd favorites in the Eifel from day one. “Batmobile,” “Black Beauty” or “Toro Nero” – the nicknames among the 235,000 fans for the spectacular black car were many and varied. Additional attention was attracted by neon green LED bands that the team had mounted on the roof and in the front grille, making the car clearly recognizable even in the darkest hours of the night.
With consistently fast times on the track, cool heads in tight situations, a clever strategy and 22 pit stops that were precise and flawless, the ABT team made up ground after ground. The Lamborghini Huracán also presented itself perfectly prepared in consistently sunny spring weather: Apart from the scheduled tire changes and fuel stops as well as some routine work, the car did not have to be pushed into the garage for repairs even once. Damage due to contact with other vehicles: none whatsoever.
“This was a super-fast and aggressive race in which we stayed out of any trouble,” says Kelvin van der Linde, who has already won the classic event twice. With 160 laps on the 25.378-kilometre circuit, ABT also beat the race’s distance record from last year. “The two punctures on Saturday afternoon hurt us extremely, because after that we didn’t have the slightest incident with our car.” Nevertheless, the South African is taking a lot of positives with him: “The days with Jordan, Nicki, Marco and the ABT squad were enormous fun. Even though finishing in the top ten is only a small reward for the team’s hard work, everyone can be proud of what we achieved together.”
Already next weekend the ABT Motorsport weeks will go into the next round: on Saturday and Sunday (May 27 and 28) the DTM will start into its new season. ABT will be fielding two Audi R8 LMS cars for Kelvin van der Linde and Ricardo Feller. One week later, the tenth round of the Formula E World Championship season is on the calendar for ABT CUPRA. The event with two races in Jakarta marks the fifth consecutive weekend of racing for the ABT team.
Published by: ABT Sportsline
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