2019 Hankook 24H BARCELONA. What happened? (TCE)

September 19, 2019

In the TCE field at Barcelona, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing capped a sensational season with, bizarrely, its ‘worst’ race. TOPCAR sport put memories of a tough race in Portimão to bed. RTR Projects finished a character-building race to take the win in SP3. And even an engine and gearbox change isn’t enough to deny Synchro Motorsport.

  • Check out the original post on 24hseries.com HERE

TCR Pt.1 – Redemption for TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing

  • TOPCAR sport / Bas Koeten Racing (#131) takes commanding TCE win…

  • …but 3rd for Autorama / Wolf-Power Racing (#112) is enough for title

  • Baporo Motorsport (#135) 2nd at home event

Though newly crowned 24H TCE SERIES Europe champion Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing received its fair share of the plaudits as the chequered flag at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, for 22 of the previous 24 hours, TCE had belonged to TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, Fabian Danz / Julien Apotheloz / Loris Prattes / Antti Buri).

Memories of the mid-race engine failure while leading clearly still stung, the 24H SERIES newboy guaranteeing a return race “even stronger” in Barcelona, and did not disappoint. Armed with Bas Koeten Racing’s metronomic pitwork – theirs were the fastest pit stops anywhere in the field – and what the team called “perfect tyre and car management”, the #131 CUPRA took a lead it would never lose after just four hours, eventually amassing a 10-lap gap to its nearest rival during the remainder of the race.

So impressive was the CUPRA’s pace that TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing finished ahead of ALL GT4 and 991 entries at Barcelona and secured a fourth win from five starts for Fabian Danz, the new 24H TCE SERIES Europe Drivers’ champion.

The bridesmaid for a second year in a row at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, hometown team Baporo Motorsport (#135) collected 2nd place in TCE after a solid run in the CUPRA TCR, a result the team attributed to conservative pace during Saturday’s exceptionally hot opening stages. Indeed, Alberto Vescovi claimed to be battling temperatures of “maybe 50 degrees” in the CUPRA cockpit alongside Alexandr Artemyev and Argentine teammates Manuel Sapag and Marcelo Ciarrochi both of whom were competing in their first 24-hour race.

An early contender for victory, the Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI (#112, Marlon Menden / Ralf Henggeler / Jérôme Ogay / Benjamin Leuchter / Yannick Mettler) couldn’t quite match the pace of the CUPRAs ahead around Barcelona’s fast but technical infield. Not that it nattered too much, as the final step of the podium was more than enough to secure the 24H TCE SERIES Overall Teams’ title in Autorama / Wolf’s first collaborative season together.

TCE Top 3

  1. TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, CUPRA) – 637 laps
  2. Baporo Motorsport (#135, CUPRA) – 627 laps
  3. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 625 laps

24H SERIES Europe Championship – TCE Division

  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 93 points
  2. Synchro Motorsport (#676, Honda) – 79 points
  3. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi) – 73 points

24H SERIES Continents Championship (after three rounds) – TCE Division

  1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 58 points
  2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi) – 44 points
  3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA) – 36 points

TCR Pt.2 – Best finish for TTC Racing as Holmgaard and Nordschleife shunt

  • Heartbreak for Holmgaard Motorsport (#102) in the final hour

  • Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) exits race with heavy shunt

  • Stephane Perrin recovering after pit lane incident

4th place in TCE ultimately went to a well-deserved, albeit slightly fortunate, TTC Racing (#103, Daniel Schilliger / Rolf Reding / Fredy Suter / Adrian Spescha). An unfortunate problem during Free Practice, plus tyres wear concerns in the oppressive heat, wasn’t the best start for the only SEAT Leon TCR in the field…

“I think the biggest problem for us was the heat,” explained TTC owner/driver Daniel Schilliger. “It’s really hot in the car and we struggled a lot with the tyres. Also, on Friday, Fredy [Suter] had a problem with his back. So, we were four drivers, and then, all of a sudden, we were three!”

Still, clever pit strategy meant the Swiss 24H SERIES regular was on-hand to collect its best TCE finish of the season when its rivals faltered. Speaking of which…

Despite being only 12th quickest in TCE qualifying, and having survived a clumsy brush with the TICTAP TOTCAR SPORT SEAT (#123) during the opening hour, Holmgaard Motorsport (#102, Magnus and Jonas’ Holmgaard / Roy Edland / Rowan Shepherd / Michael Carlsen) quickly established itself as a thorn in the side of the podium contenders. Six hours in, Kim Holmgaard’s eponymous team had already climbed to 4th behind the lead Autorama entry, a position the #102 VW held, and even improved upon, through the night and early Sunday morning. Endurance racing is a cruel affair though, and a brutally unlucky Roy Edland suffered front left brake failure heading into the rapid turn three right-hander with just 45 minutes left on the clock.

An eventual 6th in TCR behind the second Autorama Volkswagen (#114, Kristian Jepsen / Jan Sorensen / Yannick Mettler) was a decent recovery under the circumstances, but nowhere near what the hard-working Danish outfit deserved. Still, Holmgaard brothers Magnus and Jonas could at least celebrate a joint win in the TCE Junior Cup championship standings.

Also suffering problems was the Nordschleife Racing Peugeot 308 Racing Cup (#172, Maxim Aronov / Thierry Boyer / Lev Fridman / Michel Sallenbach / Philippe Steveny). In what could well be Il Lione’s final 24H SERIES race start with the French team, a hefty collision with the Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 sent both to the garage for extensive repairs. The Peugeot may have returned to the track after 3h 45m of repair time, but niggling issues continued to plague the former ‘Team Altran’-branded 308 Racing Cup TCR, and 9th was as good as it was going to get.

“Endurance racing is a cruel affair though, and a brutally unlucky Holmgaard Motorsport suffered front left brake failure with just 45 minutes left on the clock.”

Easily the most dramatic retirement from the category came courtesy of the Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA TCR (#101, Ivo Breukers / Luc Breukers / Harry Hilders / Gijs Bessem). The Dutch team had already suffered brake problems and a broken paddle shifter in the early stages, the latter incident requiring team owner Ivo Breukers to ‘liberate’ the steering wheel from Bas Koeten Racing’s spare ‘NKPP’-liveried CUPRA in the paddock. Seven hours in, the orange CUPRA TCR ended its race nose-first against the tyre barriers after a high speed off at the exit of turn four. The front end was completely destroyed, and the CUPRA’s day was done on the spot, but Harry Hilders mercifully walked away unscathed.

In one of the more bizarre scenes of the year, the impact caused a one-hour Code 60 as track marshalls struggled to right the tyre wall that had ‘dominoed’ itself during the accident.

Our final word on TCR goes to AC Motorsport (#188, Stéphane Perrin / Vincent Radermecker / Tom Boonen / James Kaye / Mathieu Detry). Coming into the event, teammates Stéphane Perrin and James Kaye led way in the TCE Drivers’ standings, but the weekend got off to a bad start. While waiting to alight the #188 Audi RS3 LMS during night practice, Stéphane Perrin was clipped by the GPX Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R as the latter turned into its pit box too early. The unfortunate contact sent the Belgian driver to the hospital with suspected broken ribs and contusions. CREVENTIC wishes Stéphane Perrin a speedy recovery.

A fairytale win for Stéphane unfortunately was not to be for AC Motorsport. Despite falling just 0.0015s short of claiming the TCR-class pole position, the Audi first suffered a broken shock absorber and a sensor issue that knocked out the ABS system before the race was even half done. With just over 90 minutes of the race left, the Audi ended its day in the turn nine gravel trap after shedding its front left wheel nuts. Fingers crossed the TCE title contenders can return in-strength for next year’s 24H TCE SERIES Europe.

TCR Top 3

  1. TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, CUPRA) – 637 laps
  2. Baporo Motorsport (#135, CUPRA) – 627 laps
  3. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) – 625 laps

SP3 – RTR Projects survives engine change to take third win of 2019

  • RTR Projects (#224) takes the win, despite journey through the gravel

  • Character-building 2nd place for Perfection Racing Europe (#345)

  • Munckhof Racing (#310) takes pole but retires with gearbox failure

Much like SPX [GT race report HERE [LINK]), SP3 belonged to the KTM X-BOW at this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA. Not just at the chequered flag, but during the opening 12 hours too.

Though pipped to TCE pole position by a demon lap from Glenn van Berlo in the Munckhof Racing BMW M4 GTR, a fast-starting Erik Janis soon put the #224 RTR-Projects KTM X-BOW GT4 (Janis / Jan Krabec / Daniel Skalický / Petr Lisa / Tomas Miniberger) into the lead. By the end of the first hour, the Czech team was leading TCE and already 16s ahead of its closest SP3 rival. After two hours, the gap had extended to nearly 50s, and by the third hour, the KTM was a full two laps up the road. On the cusp of half-distance, True-Racing led the way by a full 12 laps, courtesy of its rivals dropping back with myriad mechanical woes and the KTM’s superior race pace in exhaustively hot conditions. Victory seemed a foregone conclusion.

The KTM’s advantage came unglued on lap 293 though when Jan Krabec received a punt from “one of the Porsche Cups”, stones from the turn seven gravel puncturing the radiator and nearly frying the Audi four-cylinder entirely. Repairs cost the team more than an hour meaning team owner Tomas Miniberger resumed in 3rd, 13 hours in.

Ironically, after a conservative start, it was PR&V (#302, Christian Gloz / Alain and Flavien Remi / Hervé Houdre) that stayed out of trouble long enough to inherit the SP3 lead, the Porsche Cayman GT4 CS even heading the class for two hours. A maiden 24H SERIES podium was not to be though as, in a bizarre repetition, Christian Gloz was also unceremoniously turfed out of a 12-lap lead and into the turn four gravel trap shortly after the 14th hour ticked by. With the Porsche’s steering rack broken and no spares in the garage, PR&V’s race was done after 340 laps.

RTR Projects was thus up to 2nd, which quickly became 1st when new (temporary) leader Perfection Racing Europe also hit trouble soon after. Back up to speed and now heading into the final quarter of the race in the lead, nobody could touch the Czech team.

Finally, having finished 2nd in-class at the event in 2013, and 3rd one year later (both in a BMW M3 E46), RTR Projects could finally celebrate its first class win at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, and, crucially, its third of the 24H SERIES season.

Despite being a massive 58 laps adrift of the KTM at the flag, Michael Klostermann’s Perfection Racing Europe outfit (#345) could at least be satisfied with 2nd in SP3, albeit in a bittersweet sort of way. Having already been forced to repair a broken shock absorber and replace the floor before the race had even started, consistent running for Klostermann and his three Danish teammates (brother Claus, Tommy Laugesen and René Rasmussen) meant the Ginetta G55 was solidly in the top two in-class for much of the opening half of the race, and even threatened the overall top two in TCE.

“By the end of the first hour, RTR-Projects was leading TCE and already 16s ahead of its closest SP3 rival. After two hours, the gap had extended to nearly 50s, and by the third hour, the KTM was a full two laps up the road.”

Fate, as it usually does, intervened shortly after nightfall though when a collision on-track destroyed the Ginetta’s rear track rod. Shortly after that, and adding insult to repaired injury, the front left wheel parted company with its mountings through the fast turn four, and Claus Klostermann was unable to stop the nose burying itself in the gravel trap, perilously close to the tyre barriers. Cue another hour in the pits. Still, a quiet run thereafter, plus Munckhof’s drivetrain issues, meant 2nd place in-class was all but confirmed for Perfection Racing Europe as daylight crept over the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya.

With PR&V’s woes, the last step of the podium was a cert for Munckhof Racing (#310, Eric van den Munckhof / Marco Poland / Marcel and Glenn van Berlo / Ted van Vliet). Despite maintaining pole position into turn one, the BMW M4 GTR, with team namesake Eric at the wheel, soon plummeted through the TCE field, a badly overheating gearbox under the torturous Catalonian sun bringing the Bimmer onto pit road for a 2.5hr pit stop shortly before the fourth hour. Back on-track, suspected brake failure compounded the team’s issues further later on as Marco Poland speared very wide at turn 10, bringing the BMW back to pit road once again. With the gearbox once again overheating, and two more lengthy pit stops, Eric finally waved the white flag after 378 laps. As it turns out, this and the 3rd place in-class that came with it was still enough to secure Munckhof Racing the SP3-class 24H SERIES Europe crown.

It’s nice to think about our championship, and it’s well-deserved, but honestly, we really wanted to finish,” explained team owner Eric van der Munckhof. “Last year, we broke an engine in Barcelona and in fact, we haven’t finished a 24-hour with this car yet. Fingers crossed for 2020!”

SP3 Top 3

  1. RTR Projects (#224, KTM) – 590 laps
  2. Perfection Racing Europe (#345, Ginetta) – 532 laps
  3. Munckhof Racing (#310, BMW) – 378 laps / DNF

A3 – Hofor Racing / Bonk Motorsport takes win, Synchro takes title

  • Hofor-Racing / Bonk Motorsport (#869) takes first class win

  • Synchro Motorsport (#676) seals ‘A3’ title, despite engine change

  • Engine failure down fun-M Motorsport (#802) at half-distance

Further back in A3, Synchro Motorsport’s charge to, what looked increasingly like, the #676 Honda Civic Type-R’s third win on the bounce faltered during the night when the British team were forced to replace not only the gearbox but the entire six-cylinder engine too. It was difficult to ignore the potential knock-on effects of the hefty thump the Honda had received earlier in the day from one of the GT front-runners. Given the impactful way the team exited last year’s race, luck rarely appears to be on their side at Barcelona…

Still, the volunteer Honda UK employees – the epitome of professionalism that they are – managed to get both tasks done in less than three hours (1h 10m for the gearbox change, 1h 15m for the engine). All hope of another class win had already gone up in literal smoke, but 2nd place after a determined run from team principal Alyn James, Daniel Wheeler, and three-time British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal meant 2nd in-class was enough to secure both the A3-class 24H SERIES Europe title and an impressive 2nd overall in the TCE championship standings.

Despite a couple of time penalties for ‘avoidable contact’ – the most egregious of which sent then 991-class leading Team Webheads into the gravel (see ‘991’ in our GT report HERE [LINK]) and the BMW M240i Racing Cup into the pits for repairs – the second Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport entry (#869, Martin Kroll / Axel Burghardt / Volker Piepmeyer / Michael Bonk / Michael Fischer) completed a controlled race to collect its first A3 class win, ironically, since last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA. The result also guaranteed the team the CUP1-class crown.

An unclassified 3rd place went to fun-M Motorsport (#802, Harald Rettich / Paul Sieljes / Danny Brink / Klaus Dieter Frommer). Despite a solid run in the opening stages, trouble broke at dusk for the Hankook 24H DUBAI class winner a drive-less Harald Rettich crawled to a precarious halt between turns four and five, mere inches off the racing line. Though Rettich managed to eventually coast the BMW M240i Racing Cup back to the pits, which went on to complete another 75 laps, the team’s race was felled for good with engine failure shortly before the half-way point.

A3 Top 3

  1. Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869, BMW) – 579 laps
  2. Synchro Motorsport (#676, Honda) – 517 laps
  3. fun-M Motorsport (#802, BMW) – 283 laps / DNC


*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES