The “Grello” from Manthey became known outside the endurance racing scene thanks to the DTM – but the program also harboured risks
The “Grello” is one of the most popular cars in the German sports car scene. The name was created by the team in the Nürburgring Endurance Series (NLS) – formerly VLN – but only really became a brand thanks to the fan cult. The roots are therefore in endurance racing, but the team also brought the Porsche 911 GT3 R to the DTM in 2023, where Thomas Preining won the championship at the first attempt.
However, Thomas Laudenbach, Head of Porsche Motorsport, was initially unsure whether it was right to bring the “Grello” into the DTM, as there was a danger of risking the brand in the event of moderate success. “The ‘Grello’ has become a brand at the Nürburgring – and it’s great that it has made the leap from endurance racing,” says Laudenbach. “It was also a risk, but sometimes courage is rewarded.”
Laudenbach’s thoughts before entering the DTM? “This is a successful brand. What if you look really old here now?” he says. “But that didn’t happen.”
After the DTM title win, there was a conversation between the Porsche Head of Motorsport and Olaf Manthey, during which Laudenbach paid tribute to the team founder for his courageous decision. “I said: Olaf, I take my hat off to you again! Because I was also one of those who said: ‘Think about this very carefully’.”
In hindsight, Manthey also understands the concerns of the Head of Motorsport: “Yes, Thomas was right. We didn’t create a brand like the ‘Grello’. We did choose what the car should look like, but the fans are the ones who make it so popular and cult.”
Therefore, the car “actually had the obligation to be at the very front. And there was a fear that this might not work right away in this tight championship. That’s why they were worried about the ‘Grello’ brand. “
However, Manthey rose to the challenge. “No matter which championship we entered, we always achieved very good results,” says a delighted Manthey. “And we had the confidence to do the same here.” And rightly so, because the Manthey EMA team not only took the crown in the drivers’ standings, but also in the team standings.
Could the “Grello” even become an international cult in the future? After all, Manthey could also take the car to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. But the decision has not yet been made. “It is not yet clear what the two cars will look like there. It’s all still under negotiation,” says Manthey. “Anything is possible.”
Laudenbach is still mum on the subject of “Grello” and Le Mans: “You’ll have to ask Manthey. I don’t know whether they will compete there in the ‘Grello’ colors, that’s not my decision.” However, it is already certain that Manthey will enter two 911 GT3 Rs in the World Endurance Championship (WEC) with Porsche in 2024.