During a truly stunning 24-hour event at Barcelona, Barwell Motorsport and Herberth Motorsport take the fight for outright victory right down to the wire, Porsche Lorient Racing bounces back from disaster to finish on the podium, and True-Racing nets a successful result for a brand new KTM.
- Check out the original post on 24hseries.com HERE
A6. Pt.1 – Barwell vs. Herberth. For 24 hours straight!
Lamborghini (#77) and Porsche (#91) in grandstand finish for the win
GPX Racing (#24) ends race with a puncture
Off the podium, but in the pound seat for Scuderia Praha (#11)
The race for the overall GT win was astounding. That’s really the only way we can describe it.
Having taken its first 24H SERIES pole position of the year one day earlier, and by just over a tenth, the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo 2019 (#77, Adrian Amstutz / Leonid Machitski / Patrick Kujala / Dennis Lind) retained its advantage into turn one and across the opening hour, Patrick Kujala running his typically stellar pace on point. Chasing the Finn all the way was the first of two fast-starting Herberth Motorsport Porsches – the #93 911 GT3 R (Edward Lewis Brauner / Stefan Aust / Klaus Bachler / Vincent Kolb / Zeljko Drmic) – which had started from the front row for the second event in succession.
As the race’s first quarter rolled past though, and despite an impressive opening run from Vincent Kolb in the #93 entry, the lead Herberth Motorsport 991 GT3 R (#91, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer / Sven Müller) – sans Albert Renauer, who was on Porsche Supercup duty at Spa-Francorchamps – soon established itself as the rival Barwell would need to beat.
From lap 144 / hour 5 onwards, the lead was with either the #77 Lamborghini or the #91 Porsche. After 12 hours, amidst the oppressive heat, through a very brief rain shower, and even after a left rear puncture for the Raging Bull during Kujala’s second stint, the pair were split by just 25.6s. At three-quarter distance, the gap between 1st and 2nd was never more than 60 seconds, and both teams had each led close to 250 of the 550 laps completed. As the final hour approached, with all scheduled pit stops completed, the gap between Dennis Lind and Ralf Bohn was down to less than 10s.
The tension in the pits was excruciating, Herberth boss Robert Renauer, desperate for the team’s first outright 24H SERIES win of the year, proclaimed the Hankook 24H BARCELONA “definitely the most challenging race we’ve had” as Barwell Motorsport boss Mark Lemmer chewed on what remained of his fingernails.
Ultimately, the superior pace of Lind was too much for the hard-charging Bohn, and the Barwell Motorsport Lamborghini crossed the line to take the team’s first 24H SERIES win, just 10.4s clear of 2nd place. One slip in the final stages would have lost them everything.
“We enjoyed that, but it was a difficult race. Really nail-biting!” explained a magnanimous Adrian Amstutz. “[Herberth Motorsport] is so good, their ‘AM’ drivers are always top notch, and the car goes very well. The Renauer [brothers] are always on-point as is there strategy. This race really could have swung either way!”
“As the final hour approached, with all scheduled pit stops completed, the gap between Dennis Lind and Ralf Bohn was down to less than 10s.”
A stunning run from the second Herberth Motorsport Porsche ended with the A6-Am win, the A6-class 24H SERIES Europe title, and 4th on the road barely three minutes adrift of 3rd-placed GPX Racing (#24, Jean-Pierre Valentini / Benjamin Goethe / Stuart Hall / Jordan Grogor / Nicky Pastorelli). The United Arab Emirates team meanwhile felt particularly relieved to collect its second outright 24H SERIES podium in as many races, given how the weekend both started and ended. During Friday’s night practice, an unfortunate collision between the GPX Porsche trundling down pit road and AC Motorsport’s Stephane Perrin led to the latter being rushed to hospital with suspected broken ribs (see our TCE report HERE). Clearly still rattled by the accident, the team was given a final shock to the nervous system when Stuart Hall suffered a right rear puncture inside the final 25 minutes.
Ironically, following four wins in succession and at an event it has twice won outright, the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Jiří Písařík / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) was unable to replicate its season-long form at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA. Neither as nimble nor boasting the same traction through Barcelona’s high-speed turns as the Porsche 991 GT3 R – that the Ferrari was overtaken by a Porsche, twice, around the outside of the fourth-gear turn nine simply rubbed salt further into the wound – Scuderia Praha lost a top five position as night fell ‘thanks’ to a broken component in the ‘electrical brain’ of the turbochargers. An hour was lost in the garage. That the moveable pedal box decided to break in the opening stages didn’t exactly help either.
Still, though the Ferrari missed the podium for the first time this season, the team’s sensational run of form meant the 24H SERIES Europe Teams’ Championship was a well-deserved reward for the Czech team’s efforts.
A6-Pro and Overall Top 3
- Barwell Motorsport (#77, Lamborghini) – 690 laps
- Herberth Motorsport (#91, Porsche) – +10.481s
- GPX Racing (#24, Porsche) – 682 laps
24H SERIES Europe Championship – GT Division
- Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11, Ferrari) – 84 points
- Herberth Motorsport (#93, Porsche) – 83 points
- Herberth Motorsport (#91, Porsche) – 81 points
24H SERIES Continents Championship (after three rounds) – GT Division
- Leipert Motorsport (#710, Lamborghini / Mercedes-AMG) – 57 points
- Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11, Ferrari) – 54 points
- Car Collection Motorsport (#88, Audi) – 54 points
A6. Pt.2 – Double podium for Car Collection; short race for Equipe Verschuur
Car Collection finishes 2nd (#34) and 3rd (#88) behind Herberth Motorsport (#93)
WTM Racing (#22) breaks ‘Barcelona Curse’
Early contender Frikadelli Racing (#31) felled by tyre issues
Behind Herberth Motorsport, Car Collection Motorsport took a well-deserved double podium in Barcelona, the Dubai-winning #88 car (Jürgen Häring / Taki Konstantinou / Tim Müller / Simon Reicher / Pierre Kaffer) chasing the sister #34 Audi R8 LMS (Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff / Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Ingo Vogler / Max Edelhoff) all the way to the chequered flag. Not a bad way for Gustav Edelhoff to celebrate his 59th birthday!
A podium contender from the outset, and even the outright leader during the opening phase of pit stops, the #34 Audi couldn’t quite mount a full attack as the race progressed, a clumsy collision with the lead Porsche Lorient Racing Cup car (see ‘991’ below) costing both teams time in the garage and a 30-second penalty for the R8.
Unsurprisingly, with Le Mans class winner Pierre Kaffer behind the wheel, the sister #88 entry remained untouchable for much of the event (ironic, given Tim Müller’s near miss with the CP Racing Mercedes). Only an unexpectedly short final stint for Taki Konstantinou and a monster final run from reigning GT Junior Cup winner Max Edelhoff in the #34 Audi prevented the Hankook 24H DUBAI winning machine from claiming 2nd on the A6-Am podium. Kudos to Jürgen Häring though, who finished just 16s adrift of the hard-charging Edelhoff.
A solid though surprisingly quiet race for CP Racing (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster / Darren Law) ended with ‘the American team’ collecting 8th overall and 4th in-class in A6-Am. Compounded by, what Charles Espenlaub teasingly called “unusual technical difficulties” during the brutally hot opening hours of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 struggled to switch on its tyres. ‘The Charleses’, Joe Foster and 2009 Daytona 24 Hours winner Darren Law – back in the legitimately hot seat after hanging up his helmet in 2014 – managed to pull itself back into the running for a class podium during the night, but in the end couldn’t overhaul strong final stints from Max Edelhoff and Jürgen Häring in the Car Collection Audis up ahead.
A love tap from the Wochenspiegel Team Monschau Ferrari 488 GT3 during the night didn’t help much either, though the German former VLN runner had other problems to worry about. It’s most significant was a second brake disc change as the prancing horse chewed its way through its discs faster than expected. Still, ‘minor touches on-track with other vehicles’ aside, WTM Racing (#22, Georg and Leonard Weiss / Jochen Krumbach / Hendrik Still) finished 7th on the road, and, crucially, 3rd in A6-Am. The result marks the second class podium of the year for the German squad and puts to bed the ‘Barcelona curse’ after two successive retirements at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
Behind them lay Hofor-Racing (#10, Michael Kroll / Alexander Prinz / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout / Wim Spinoy), which made its first race start since Mugello. The weekend got off to a poor start during Thursday’s private testing when brake failure caused Christiaan Frankenhout to hit the barriers hard at turn one, destroying most of the Mercedes-AMG GT3’s front end in the process. The mechanics’ work wasn’t done though, an impressive run in the top two in-class brought to a screeching halt against the side of Nordschleife Racing’s Peugeot 308 Racing Cup TCR (check out our TCE report HERE). A phenomenal effort by the team, plus more than two hours in the pibox, meant the #10 Mercedes-AMG GT3 did at least take the chequered flag on what was rumoured to be its final series start, and even led a lap.
“The result marks the second class podium of the year for WTM Racing and puts to bed the ‘Barcelona curse’ after two successive retirements at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.”
Hopes were high that Frikadelli Racing (#31, Klaus Abbelen / Alex Müller / Felipe Fernández Laser / Lance-David Arnold), a VLN regular front-runner, would be a contender in A6-Pro from the get-go. And such did indeed prove to be the case, the Porsche 911 GT3 R qualifying 9th overall and quickly working its way into the top five thanks to a lightning start by Felipe Fernández Laser. A false dawn, as it turned out.
An early left rear puncture inside the opening hour dropped the #31 Porsche out of the top 30, and while similarly killer stints by Alex Müller meant the A6-Pro contender was back into 9th overall four hours later, a second, identical puncture cost the team over 35 minutes in the pits. With tyre issues becoming a genuine concern, the German squad opted to play it safe and retired the car, though has not ruled out future 24H SERIES entries in the future.
“Even though we did not register the result [we wanted], we are very positive about the 24H SERIES,” explained team principal Klaus Abbelen, who also completed a 40-lap stint. “The series is quite well organized and really fun. Therefore, I do not rule out future performances on our part.”
The VLN regular’s issues though paled in comparison to those of Equipe Verschuur (#29, Erik van Loon / Harrie Kolen / Hoevert Vos / Jarno Goesten). The Renault RS01, though on the pace during Thursday’s private test session, suffered major overheating issues during Free Practice. With no spare NISMO engine, and no alternative solution to the problem, the team began the arduous – and long! – task of repairing the V6 in its entirety, the venture forcing the team to miss qualifying and only complete the task at 4am on race day. A few laps into the race, the Renault was back in to the pits, again with overheating problems. The white flag was eventually flown seven hours later and the car withdrawn with only 21 laps on the board.
A6-Am Top 3
- Herberth Motorsport (#93, Porsche) – 680 laps
- Car Collection Motorsport (#34, Audi) – 677 laps
- Car Collection Motorsport (#88, Audi) – +16.299s
SPX and SP4 – New KTM and Ligier hit their stride on respective debuts
Flawless run for True Racing (#216) and new KTM GTX
Lady Luck escapes Cor Euser Racing once again (#717)
Nordschleife Racing (#526) completes “successful baptism of fire”
“To be honest, I don’t think we’re going into this weekend with a huge amount of pressure and no real expectations either. The plan here is just to get some solid endurance testing done with KTM’s new car. Anything can happen, and we know that, so we’re not putting any additional pressure on ourselves.”
The words of inaugural W Series driver Naomi Schiff, and 24H SERIES favourite, before the green flag flew on Saturday afternoon. Ironic in hindsight given the near faultless run the new #216 True-Racing KTM ‘GTX’ enjoyed on its competitive outing in Barcelona.
The new ‘GTX’ may have been beaten to SPX pole position by the Vortex V8 (#701), but a demon start by Laura Kraihamer, plus some audacious passing manoeuvres by the Austrian KTM factory driver, meant the #216 True Racing entry led unopposed from the second lap onwards. A stunning performance, one that ended with a well-deserved class win for Kraihamer, Sehdi Sarmini, and Johannes and Ferdinand Stuck, sons of ‘86/’87 Le Mans winner, Hans-Joachim. Such was the pace, the SPX class winner even finished 9th on the road.
The same, unfortunately, could not be said of the sister #217 KTM (Klaus Angerhofer / Gerald Kiska / Sehdi Sarmini / Artur Chwist / Hubert Trunkenpolz). A trip through the gravel while Klaus Angerhofer was running 2nd threw a v-belt, causing terminal damage to the GTX’s brand new, higher capacity Audi engine (uh oh!). Swift though the engine change might have been – 1h 18m is nothing to be sneered at – the resultant “chain of unfortunate circumstances” meant the team could only finish 4th.
2nd place as a result went to Team Clickvers.de (#769, Robin Chrzanowski / Kersten Jodexnis / Stefan Berger / Maximilian Koch) after an impressively smooth run for the Porsche 991 Cup MR. Vortex V8 meanwhile (#701, Nicolas Nobs / Philippe Gruau / Stephane Cottrell / Francesc Gutierrez Agüi), despite impressive pace in qualifying, suffered a broken rear bracket early on, a litany of issues stemming from this forcing the Vortex 1.0 to stop a monumental 31 times (in contrast, the class winning True Racing KTM pitted 11 times fewer). Looks like event legend Francesc Gutierrez Agüi will have to wait at least one more year to try and claim his fourth class win at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
“A stunning performance, one that ended with a well-deserved class win for True-Racing. The same, unfortunately, could not be said of the sister #217 KTM.”
Cor Euser Racing’s luck with its new MARC II V8 meanwhile failed to improve at Barcelona (#717, Cor Euser / Einar Thorsen / Ricky Coomber / Jim Briody). Having retired with engine problems at Portimão and hit the tyre barrier hard at Spa, Euser’s eponymously-entered muscle car lasted just 10 laps before fellow endurance racing legend Jim Briody ground to a halt on the opening lap, power from the engine completely gone. A hard reset on-track got the MARC back to the pitlane, but the team was already on the backfoot.
Having lost a further eight laps when the left front wheel refused to budge during a pit stop, damage from an off-track moment left the car too damaged to continue. A slightly red-faced Ricky Coomber will no doubt come back even stronger, and though he was still smiling in the paddock, this was probably not the way Jim Briody had hoped his 99th 24-hour (or higher) race would end. Fingers and toes crossed for COTA.
In a race of one, Nordschleife Racing (#526, Guillaume Roman / Mathieu Sentis / Sebastien Dussolliet / Sebastien Poisson) made its first competitive outing in Barcelona with the brand new Ligier JS2 R with which the former TCR-class champion intends to tackle next year’s 24H SERIES Continents. Though a clutch problem led to a 4.5hr exploratory pit stop, the team leapfrogged its own expectations by completing more than 500 laps during a “successful baptism of fire.”
SPX Top 3
- True Racing (#216, KTM) – 661 laps
- Team Clickvers.de (#769, Porsche) – 629 laps
- Vortex V8 (#701, Vortex) – 594 laps
- Nordschleife Racing (#526, Ligier) – 510 laps
991 – A race of woe, and a title, for Porsche Lorient Racing
Porsche Lorient stalls, but recovers (#911); leads, then shunted (#912)
Broken shock absorber eliminates long-time leader MRS GT-Racing (#980)
Team Webheads (#902) survives two shunts for 2nd place
Those who thought Porsche Lorient Racing would have an easy run to the 991-class 24H SERIES Europe championship had another think coming, with not only the championship-leading #911 991-II Cup but the sister #912 both suffering significant problems in the opening half of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
Indeed, electrical problems straight out the gate meant the championship-leading 911 – with Mathieu Pontais behind the wheel for the first stint – was unable to even start the formation laps. A failed sensor had fried the clutch, requiring more than 50 minutes of repairs before the first lap racing could even be completed.
And yet, somehow, the downfall of the sister #912 991-II Cup was even more brutally unlucky. A fighting drive from Ludovic Loeul, Antoine Ettienne, Hervé Tremblaye and Lionel Amrouche meant the 24H SERIES stalwart had worked its way into the class lead from 4th on the ‘991’ grid as the seventh hour ticked its way into the books. Said charge ended in the turn 13 gravel trap however as the Car Collection Motorsport Audi attempted an overly ambitious move down the inside of turn 13. Beached, the #912 lost four laps being recovered.
1st on the road, ironically, would prove to be a poisoned chalice for the #912 Porsche. Having stayed out of trouble during the night, and worked its way back into the lead after 20 hours, Lionel Amrouche lost the front end through turn four, and was unable to stop the Porsche’s nose burying itself in the wall. With the damage too great to repair, the #912 was out.
Porsche Lorient’s early issues, and eventual demise, left Raceunion by MRS GT-Racing (#980, Alex Autumn / Andreas Gülden / Raulino Kreis Jr. / Hendrik Von Dannwitz / Jukka Honkavuori) and Team Webheads (#902, Andreas Riedl / Joachim Bölting / JM Littman / Tom Dillmann) battling for the lead. Despite pulling a three lap lead as the race entered its second half, broken rear suspension cost the #980 a full hour in the garage, though the German squad did well to recover and finish 4th.
“1st on the road, ironically, would prove to be a poisoned chalice.”
Team Webheads meanwhile, complete with questionable ‘Scheissflug’ bonnet decals (just Google it…) and even with current Formula E driver Tom Dillmann leading the charge, couldn’t hold on to an early lead in the 991-class, contact with the A3-class Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport BMW costing the #902 Porsche a broken front splitter and four laps as it was pulled from the gravel trap (cue the event’s first of 13 Code 60s). A solid charge was further derailed by yet more Code 60-causing contact, this time with Spanish-run, all-Lithuanian GSR by Speed Factory Audi (#105), but Team Webheads still managed to salvage 2nd at the flag, nine laps down.
All this left Speed Lover (#978, Dominique Bastien / Richard Verburg / Nigel Farmer / Keong Liam Lim) free to move into the class lead during the final three hours and claim its first class win since last year’s Hankook 12H SILVERSTONE. Even the Belgian Porsche 991-II Cup wasn’t safe though, Richard Verburg suffering a left rear puncture heading into the final hour!
Incredibly, poor luck for its rivals, and an error-free run by Mathieu Pontais, Jean-François Demorge, Pascal Gibon and Frédéric Ancel meant it was the #911 Porsche Lorient Racing entry that eventually took the final step of the class podium. A just reward for the team’s hardwork and a fitting end to a race that had started so poorly. The #911 crew could also celebrate a successful defence of its 991-class 24H SERIES Europe championship.
991 Top 3
- Speed Lover (#978, Porsche) – 635 laps
- Team Webheads (#902, Porsche) – 626 laps
- Porsche Lorient Racing (#911, Porsche) – 625 laps
GT4 – Orchid Racing Team takes maiden series win; Hofor / Bonk seals title
Orchid Racing (#415) wins as sister entry takes out Hofor Racing / Bonk Motorsport BMW (#50)
Sorg Rennsport (#451) survives heat and electrical problems for 2nd
11 hours in the pits for PROsport Performance (#1)
Save a first hour lead for PROsport Performance, the ‘race’ for GT4 honours was all about Orchid Racing Team (#415, Richard Feller / Leonard Rendulic / Fabio Spirgi / Manuel Nicolaidis), which collected the chequered flag 11 laps ahead of 2nd-placed, Sorg Rennsport, after a commanding performance.
One that, granted, came close to being derailed on a couple of occasions. Shortly before half-distance, the Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR suffered a left rear puncture whilst rounding turn 12 – kudos to Emmanuel Bello for his quick reflexes – before suffering contact later on with the second True-Racing KTM. Solid running thereafter though was enough to secure the GT4 class win on the team’s 24-hour debut, no less.
Sorg Rennsport (#451, Olaf Meyer / Björn Simon / Simon Tibbett / Stephan Epp / Torsten Kratz) completed a tumultuous race to take 2nd at the flag and climb to the top of the ‘GT4’-class 24H SERIES Continents standings. It was not the easiest of starts for the BMW M4 GT4, however, as a fuel pump issue cost the team 20 minutes in the box at the first pit stop. Electrical problems struck during the night too, and the team was eventually forced to replace the Bimmer’s battery.
One of the biggest concerns though was the heat as the mercury rose above 45 and even 50-degrees in the cockpits (and that’s on top of a race suit, boots, gloves and a helmet, by the way). Few exemplified the affects of a 90-minute stint more than Simon Tibbett: with no air conditioning and no vents in the cockpit, the American ace reportedly had to be lifted out of the #451 BMW after his first stint and was eventually taken to the medical centre with severe dehydration.
Behind the top two, the Hankook 24H BARCELONA was not a good event for the championship contenders. Just three corners in, the Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport BMW M4 (#50, Martin Kroll / Michael Fischer / Michael Schrey / Thomas Jäger / Michael Bonk) received a hefty wallop from Richard Feller in, ironically, the sister Orchid Racing Team Porsche (#917). Both cars immediately toured to the pits, the BMW with a broken rear axles, the Porsche with a hole in its radiator and heavily damaged suspension. More than three hours went by before the #50 BMW finally emerged from its pit box. Not so the Cup car, which damaged its radiator, suspension AND chassis mounting in the collision, eliminating it on the spot.
“Solid running thereafter was enough to secure the GT4 class win on the Orchid Racing Team’s 24-hour debut, no less.”
After its lengthy pit stop, Hofor Racing / Bonk Motorsport at least managed to recover and finish 3rd, claiming the GT4-class 24H SERIES Europe crown in the process and its second successive 24H SERIES title.
Having blasted into the 24H SERIES with both a bang and a brand new Vantage AMR GT4 – courtesy of a new partnership with Aston Martin Racing – PROsport Performance left Barcelona with a whimper, no doubt wondering what might have been. After just 39 laps, Rodrigue Gillion toured back to the pits with a collapsed cylinder head gasket, all hope of a decent result now gone.
Still, kudos to Team Virage, which prepared the Vantage in Barcelona and which spent the next 11 hours rebuilding the Aston’s V8 engine from scratch. Despite being well out of title contention, the #1 PROsport Performance Vantage AMR GT4 (#1, Rodrigue Gillion / Nico Verdonck / Jon Aizpurua / Nicholas Silva) nevertheless took the chequered flag, under power, on the final event of its maiden 24H SERIES season. The gloves are off, and we can surely expect more from the former series champion next year.
GT4 Top 3
- Orchid Racing Team (#415, Porsche) – 605 laps
- Sorg Rennsport (#451, BMW) – 594 laps
- Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#50, BMW) – 507 laps
*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES