NINE fascinating facts from the 2019 Hankook 12H SPA

April 29, 2019

Scuderia Praha scooped victory from under the nose of Herberth Motorsport in one of the closest, and most dramatic, finishes the 24H SERIES has ever seen. But did you know…?

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1) The ending may have been one of the most dramatic, but it still wasn’t closest

What a finish! I mean, seriously, what a finish!

After 12 hours of racing, barely the length of the Kemmel Straight split Ralf Bohn in the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R from the chasing Matteo Mallucelli in the Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 when the latter pitted for fuel with just 17m of the race remaining. Two laps later, the Porsche made its way to pit road for its own splash-and-dash. Problems while re-fuelling would cost Herberth an additional 20 seconds, and in the end, it was the Ferrari that swept past at Raidillon to pull an extraordinary win out of the bag. Ultimately, after such a cruel blow, just 7.871s split Scuderia Praha from the 2nd-placed Herberth Motorsport come the chequered flag.

Now, you might reasonably expect such a pulse-shattering finish would be the closest outright gap between 1st and 2nd in 24H SERIES history. It comes close, but incredibly, the ending to the 2014 Hankook 12H MUGELLO was even closer, as AF Corse beat Stadler Motorsport by a scant 5.417s. Ironically, Ferrari got the better of Porsche on that day too.

2) One GT team taking outright victory at two of the first three rounds of a 24H SERIES season is rarer than you might think…

No, seriously. In fact, at Spa-Francorchamps, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha became only the third team in a decade to win two of the first three rounds of the championship.

For the first instance, you have to go back to 2011, when the Schubert Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 won outright in both Dubai and Barcelona, VDS Racing Adventures picking up the win at the intervening Hankook 12H HUNGARY. Fast forward to 2017 and Herberth Motorsport replicated this ‘record’ by winning round one in Dubai and round three at the Red Bull Ring, Scuderia Praha, ironically, taking the garlands at round two in Mugello.

Oddly, following GT wins in Mugello and Spa-Francorchamps, Scuderia Praha is the first of these repeat winners to take two wins back-to-back. In doing so, the team also became the first team to win the first two rounds of the European Championship. Good way to start a championship campaign, I’m sure you’ll agree…

3) A6-Am – First time the Renauer brothers have been on different steps of the same podium

Alfred and Robert Renauer are no strangers to the top step of the podium. In its various guises, the Herberth Motorsport Porsche has taken 10 outright wins in the 24H SERIES thus far with one, and usually both, of the Renauer twins behind the wheel. Brutal bad luck in the closing minutes aside (check out our GT race report HERE), it was no surprise to see the pair of them on the podium once again at this year’s Hankook 12H SPA.

Interestingly, although the brothers have shared podium finishes before in the 24H SERIES, this was the very first time Alfred and Robert shared a podium having raced two different cars. Robert after all took the A6-Am class win with Daniel Allemann and Ralf Bohn in the Herberth Porsche 911 GT3 R, while Alfred was on the third step with Tim Müller, Taki Konstantinou and Jürgen Häring collecting 3rd place in-class for HB Racing. You really don’t see that very often…

4) A6-Am – Extending the record: A6-Am celebrates its fifth different winner in succession

Speaking of things we don’t see very often, Herberth Motorsport’s win in A6-Am marked the fifth race in a row in the 24H SERIES that a different team has taken the win. It’s first time since the A6-Am sub-class was created in 2016 that more than three squads have done so.

The streak started with SPS automotive performance, aptly, at last November’s Hankook 12H SPA, and since then, the German team has been emulated by PROsport Performance (COTA ’18), HTP Motorsport (Dubai ’19), Hofor Racing (Mugello ’19), and, finally, Herberth Motorsport (Spa ’19). This beats the previous best set by IDEC SPORT RACING (Mugello), Hofor-Racing (Circuit Paul Ricard) and Spirit of Race (Barcelona) in 2016, and equalled by GRT Grasser Racing Team (Red Bull Ring), Hofor-Racing (Circuit Paul Ricard…again), and Car Collection Motorsport (Imola) one year later.

Fun additional fact, though Herberth Motorsport has amassed an impressive collection of silverware, this is the first time the former Champion of the Continents has taken an A6-Am win in the 24H SERIES.

5) SPX – JR Motorsport scored its first class win since 2017

Did you know that, had Herberth Motorsport managed to hold on for the win at Spa, this would have been only the second time an A6-Am team claimed an outright victory, and the first time since the 2017 Hankook 12H IMOLA.

Turns out though that another streak was broken at Spa-Francorchamps, as JR Motorsport collected its first class win in the 24H SERIES since, yep, the 2017 Hankook 12H IMOLA. On that occasion, Bob Herber and Martin Lanting piloted the team’s BMW E90 M3 to SP3-GT4 class victory. Just under two years later, Ward Sluys, Ted van Vliet and Michael Verhagen took the SPX class win at Spa aboard the team’s new M3 F80.

Funnily enough, two other class winners at Imola in 2017 also took a win last weekend at Spa, namely Scuderia Praha (A6-Pro) and PROsport Performance (SP3), the latter of whom would go on to win the 2017 991-class European Championship.

6) 991 – Modena Motorsport’s first class win since the 2017 Hankook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD

A regular in the 24 TCE SERIES since 2014, last weekend’s race at Spa-Francorchamps was the first time that Hong Kong-based Modena Motorsport stepped up to the GT division, and the first time we saw the team’s new Porsche 911-II Cup in action. A terrific debut it was for the #916 Porsche too, as John Shen, Francis Tjia, Philippe Descombes and Benny Simonsen collected the 991-class win on the car’s maiden 24H SERIES outing.

The result marks the first time Modena Motorsport has been on the top step of its respective podium since taking the TCR-class win at Circuit Paul Ricard in 2017. Interestingly, Shen, Tija and Simonsen were on driver detail in the SEAT Leon TCR too, John’s brother Wayne completing the line-up on that occasion.

7) TCR – First time that SEAT/CUPRA didn’t shut out the TCR podium at Spa

You may already know that, so far, Red has yet to finish off the TCE podium at the Hankook 12H SPA, amassing a TCE win (’19), a 2nd place (’17), and a 3rd overall (’18, 2nd in-class).

But did you know that, coming into the event, SEAT/CUPRA* had locked out the TCR-class podium every year at the Hankook 12H SPA? In 2017, LMS Racing Powered by Bas Koeten finished ahead of Red Camel and Bas Koeten Racing powered by Kawasaki’s respective SEAT Leons, while last November, Red once again split Bas Koeten’s NKPP Racing and LMS Racing-customer CUPRA TCRs.

Turns out third time wasn’t so lucky though, as the Spanish marque’s domination of the event came to close in 2019 courtesy of 2nd and 3rd place finishes for Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s Volkswagen Golf GTI and AC Motorsport’s Audi RS3 LMS.

*CUPRA became the newly rebranded sporting arm of SEAT in early 2018, and the CUPRA TCR is essentially a re-badged and updated SEAT Leon TCR. So, yeah, we can probably get away with grouping these together…

8) SP3 – First class win for PROsport Performance’s new Aston Martin Vantage GT4, and the British marque’s first 24H SERIES win in nine years

There were celebrations aplenty in the PROsport Performance garage at Spa-Francorchamps. Having claimed the new Vantage GT4’s podium finish last time out in Mugello, the reigning GT European Champions were now toasting a maiden series victory for their brand new Aston Martin. Give or take a dash of gaffer tape.

Amidst this achievement, it was easy to forget that, in taking the chequered at the head of the SP3 class, PROsport Performance had also recorded the first class victory for an Aston Martin since AUH Motorsport’s Humaid Al Masaood, Michael Prophet, Eric Charles and Alex Kapadia piloted the previous gen Vantage GT4 to SP3-GT4A victory at the 2010 Hankook 24H DUBAI.

9) A3 – Dan Agro Racing and Synchro Motorsport are now two of only three teams to always finish on the podium at Spa

Despite suffering rear axle issues, an overheating engine, and even a spin into the barriers exiting Raidillon, Dan Agro Racing completed another successful Hankook 12H SPA with a 1-2 finish. Not only was this the Danish team’s second European Championship race win in succession, it was also its third consecutive podium at Spa-Francorchamps. In 2017, Søren Jønsson, Henrik Sørensen and Lars Mogensen collected 2nd in the A2-class aboard the Renault Clio Cup. One year later, Anders Rasmussen, Sune Marcussen, Henrik Thomsen and Nicolaj Kandborg finished 3rd on the team’s only 24H SERIES outing of the year with the Peugeot RCZ. And last weekend, Nicolaj Kandborg, Lars Seistrup, Mikkel Gregersen and Steffan Jusjong collected the win.

Synchro Motorsport meanwhile finished 3rd in A3 at the event in 2017, a result that guaranteed the British team that year’s 24H TCE SERIES. One year later, Alyn James and Dan Wheeler, now partnered with three-time British Touring Car Champion Matt Neal, took the team’s first class win in just over one year at Spa, and last weekend, the trio collected 3rd place in A3 after a troublesome race.

This means that both teams, together with TCR runners Red are now the only teams to have a 100 per cent podium finishing record at the Hankook 12H SPA.

*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES