Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha scored its third win on the bounce in Brno, while Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing took its third TCE victory from four outings this season. Both now lead their respective European Championship standings. But did you know?
1) First time since 2016 that one GT team has won three races outright in succession
Proud as Jiří Písařík, Josef Kral and Matteo Malucelli should definitely be after their storming start to the 2019 GT European Championship, wins for Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) at Mugello, Spa and Brno proved significant for reasons other than the lead this gives the Ferrari 488 GT3 in the standings.
Not only do these results bring the team’s win tally in the 24H SERIES to 11, but this Mugello-Spa-Brno run is also the first time any GT team has scored a hat trick of overall wins in the 24H GT SERIES since 2016. The last time, fittingly, was when series nemesis Herberth Motorsport (#91) – then called ‘Precote Herberth Motorsport’ – won at Zandvoort, Circuit Paul Ricard and Barcelona three years ago. The team that brought that run to a close? Scuderia Praha.
Also, additional fun fact, can you guess the highest number of wins Scuderia Praha has taken during a single 24H SERIES season? Correct, three, a record it set in 2017 and equalled in 2018. Could the Czech team break its own record in Portimão?
2) Two Czech teams take class wins at the same race for the second time this season
Interestingly, when Scuderia Praha and RTR Projects took the Overall / A6-Pro and SPX wins earlier this year in Mugello, this marked only the second time in 24H SERIES history that more than one Czech team scored a class victory at the same race. This first was accomplished four years earlier when Scuderia Praha – naturally – since Scuderia Praha, RPD Racing and Duck Racing took the outright/ A6, SP2 and A5-class wins respectively in 2015 at – where else? – Brno.
Back to 2019, and just two rounds after Mugello, Scuderia Praha and RTR Projects managed to repeat their class wins on home turf in Brno, albeit with the KTM leading the GT4 field over the line instead. While this doesn’t quite match the three Czech winners of 2015, this result does mark the first time that teams from the Czech Republic have scored more than one class win at the same race on two separate occasions during a 24H SERIES season.
Okay, we’ll admit this stat took a little extra digging, but how could we not include a Czech-heavy fun fact from the Hankook 12H BRNO, of all places?
3) Just over 20 minutes spent under Code 60
This one is genuinely baffling. Given that 31 cars, of GT and TCE designation, were sharing just over 5km of sinuous asphalt in Moravia, struggling with uncharacteristically low levels of grip, and even had to deal with a sudden rain shower just after half-distance. Given all of that, it’s astonishing to think that the total time spent under Code 60 caution period during this year’s Hankook 12H BRNO was just 21m 46s (12m 21s on Friday, and 9m 25s on Saturday).
Granted, infrequent Code 60 cautions are no new thing at Brno. During the 24-hour running of the event in 2016, the purple flags were flown three times for a total of 54m 03s, while in 2015, Code 60 was called only twice for just 19m 41s. That rather handily slots the 2019 race right in the middle.
To add some additional context to that figure, more time was spent under three separate Code 60s at this year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI than Brno’s total amount. 21m 54s was spent collecting the MP Motorsport Mercedes and the CWS Engineering Ginetta from the turn eight tyre barrier, another 21m 54s – oddly – lost tidying up after the V8 Racing Corvette’s spill at turn three during the night, and 37m 32s spent on safety grounds after the KCMG Honda Civic Type-R caught fire at turn 10.
As we say. Genuinely baffling.
4) Five different manufacturers are in the top five of the GT European Championship standings
Again, don’t let Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha’s admittedly extraordinary efforts so far this season trick you into thinking the GT European Championship is already over. Far from it in fact. Take a look at the standings and you’ll see that the Scuderia Praha Ferrari holds only a two-point lead over the Herberth Motorsport Porsche in 2nd, while the CP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 – another A6 front runner – lies just three points further adrift.
That’s already three different manufacturers in the top three, and the PROsport Performance Aston Martin and the Car Collection Motorsport Audi are just a further two and six points behind, raising the total to five.
Like we say, there’s still plenty to play for at Portimão and Barcelona.
5) 4th different 991 winner this season, and the 8th in succession
Talking of tight championship battles, things are getting mighty interesting at Porsche Lorient Racing, as the #911 991-II Cup now holds just a three-point advantage over the sister #912 entry, teammates Gilles Blasco, Jean-François Demorge and Frédéric Ancel boasting a similar lead over Lionel Amrouche
Just goes to show what consistency can do for a title charge, given that the #911 hasn’t scored a 991-class win since last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA (this was when the team still ran the #64 number plate, remember). Interestingly, though none of us knew it at the time, this win helped kick start a remarkable run of eight different winning cars from the last eight races.
Forch Racing gets the ball rolling with its return win in Portimao, and is subsequently followed by the #64/#911 Porsche Lorient Racing 991 (Barcelona), EBIMOTORS (Spa), JDX Racing (COTA), Duel Racing (Dubai), the #912 Porsche Lorient Racing Cup (Mugello), Modena Motorsports (Spa again) and Speed Lover (Brno).
If you’re one of those thunderous bores though who insists we classify the two Porsche Lorient Racing wins together as a single team accomplishment, that still leaves us with six different ‘991’ winners in the last six races from last year’s Hankook 12H SPA to this year’s Hankook 12H BRNO. Mike drop.
6) …and the run of different winners continues in GT4 too.
The depth of competition in the GT4 class since its introduction as a standalone category for 2018 truly has been astonishing: in the 10 times the GT4 class has run (it was merged with ‘SPX’ at Silverstone in 2018 and ‘SP3’ in Spa this year), NINE different teams have walked away with the win, RTR Projects being the latest in that tally after a sensational run in Brno.
For the completionists amongst you, that list included (deep breath) Phoenix Racing (Dubai ‘18), QSR Racingschool (Navarra ‘18), Allied Racing (Imola ‘18), Fox Motorsport (Portimão and Spa ‘18), NM Racing Team (Barcelona ‘18), Classic BMW (COTA ‘18), MRS GT-Racing (Dubai ‘19), Hofor Racing by
Bonk Motorsport (Mugello ‘19), and RTR Projects.
By the way, any GT4 teams reading this list may want to consider forking out for either an Audi R8 LMS or a BMW M4, given that both models have now scored three GT4 wins apiece. Compare that with one each for the Mercedes-AMG GT4, the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, the KTM X-BOW, and the Ginetta G55.
7) The fight between 2nd and 3rd was the closest of any TCE position all year
It was always going to take something pretty impressive to beat the 7.871s that split Scuderia Praha and Herberth Motorsport at Spa-Francorchamps. And in fairness, NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing and Red Camel-Jordans.nl gave it a solid go in their fight for 2nd in the TCE division, Harry Hilders and Rik Breukers being split by just 8.234s at the chequered flag.
Still, while not the closest finish of the year, this was the tightest fight at the flag we’ve seen in TCE all season. The previous closest was the 26.792s that separated Autorama’s Jan Sorensen and AC Motorsport’s Vincent Radermecker battle for the win at Mugello.
Additional fun fact, that Scuderia Praha-Herberth result at Spa wasn’t actually the closest finish we’ve seen in 2019 either. Rinaldi Racing’s Manuel Lauck managed to pip Porsche Lorient Racing’s Jean-Philippe Belloc to 12th overall in an A6-Am / 991 duel, also in Mugello, by just 2.015s.
8) Fabian Danz is the only driver to be involved with all three Autorama wins this season in TCR
Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) is off to a superb start in 2019. Of the first four 24H TCE SERIES races this season, the Swiss team has won three of them (Dubai, Mugello and Brno) and finished 2nd at the other (Spa). This means the team currently holds an 11-point lead at the top of the TCE European Championship standings and a one-point lead in the TCE Championship of the Continents.
Interestingly though, Autorama mainstay Fabian Danz is on his own at the top of the TCE European Drivers’ Championship. In Dubai, the Swiss driver took victory with Marlon Menden, Yannick Mettler, Jérôme Ogay and team boss Stefan Tanner, the win in Mugello alongside Kristian Jepsen and Jan Sørensen, and victory last time out in Brno with Kari-Pekka Laaksonen and reigning TCR-class European Drivers’ Champion. That’s three wins with eight different teammates!
9) Team ABBA Racing’s class win in ‘SP3’ was its first in the 24H SERIES in almost three years
Team ABBA Racing (#334) had a weekend to forget at Brno: despite leading all but two of the opening 23 laps in TCE, intense heat in the BMW M3 V8 GTR led to a badly burnt right boot for Sam Neary and a melted sensor in the gear selector, the latter costing the team more than an hour in the garage. A trying weekend also included a hefty collision with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche on the very last lap of Friday’s race before a loss of drive finally put the BMW out of its misery with just one hour left to run on Saturday.
However, even despite their poor fortune, Team ABBA Racing did manage to complete enough laps to collect the SP3-class win, the team’s first in the 24H SERIES in over 38 months. Indeed, Brno marked the first time since the 2016 Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE that Richard Neary’s team secured a class victory in the 24H SERIES.
Also, fun fact, did you know that Team ABBA Racing was also the sixth different team to take SP3-class victory since last year’s Hankook 12H SPA? At Brno, the team emulated CWS Engineering (Spa ’18), Cor Euser Racing (COTA ’18), Vortex V8 (Dubai ‘19), Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (Mugello ‘19), and PROsport Performance (Spa ‘19) in the process
10) Second time in the last two Brno events that a Honda has led a BMW over the line in A3
This past weekend, former 24H TCE SERIES champion Synchro Motorsport (#676) finally took a maiden series win for its new FK8-spec Honda Civic Type-R in Brno. It was the team’s first win since its now-retired ‘FK2’ Honda won the A3-class of last year’s Hankook 12H SPA.
Alyn James and Daniel Wheeler were dutifully followed over the line by Axel Burghardt, Jurgen Meyer, Nicole Holzer and Martin Kroll in the Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport BMW M240i Racing Cup (#869), albeit three laps behind. Oddly, rewind to the same event in 2016, and the RKC/TGM Honda Civic Type-R took the A3-class win, having pulled three laps clear of Bonk Motorsport, the latter of which was competing that weekend with a BMW M235i Racing Cup.
Even more bizarrely, the A3 podium in 2016 and 2019 were both propped up by a BMW 3 Series.
*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES