In Portugal, both Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing and Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha continued their winning streaks in the 24H SERIES, moving one step closer to the TCE and GT division championships in the process. But did you know…?
1) Herberth Motorsport’s first front row start in the 24H SERIES since 2017
Incredible, isn’t it? Despite being a perennial front-runner in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, a winner of 10 GT events outright in said series, and a former 24H GT SERIES Continents champion in 2017, Portimão this year marked the first time in 15 races and 24 months that Herberth Motorsport started from the front row for a 24H SERIES event.
Now, we’re all familiar with Herberth’s now customary charges through the mid-field in the 24H SERIES, the Bavarian team preferring to focus on race setup during qualifying rather than outright pace over a single lap. Still, for the team to have gone so long without a front row start – since the 2017 Hankook 12H IMOLA – is beyond baffling.
Want to hear something even more incredible? The Hankook 24H PORTIMAO was only the team’s second pole position since its arrival in 2015. Seriously!
2) Fourth time in five races that the GT pole sitter hasn’t finished on the outright podium
Then again, Herberth Motorsport may have a point…
Incredibly, only once this year in the 24H GT SERIES has the pole sitter gone on to finish on the outright podium. And only twice have they finished in the top three in-class.
Bohemia Energy racing by Scuderia Praha (#11) took pole position in Spa-Francorchamps, and the Ferrari’s form this year is already well-documented. GRT Grasser Racing Team took pole in the season opener in Dubai, admittedly overcoming early punctures to finish 4th overall. One round later in Mugello, SPS automotive performance (#16) wouldn’t even make the overnight intervention thanks to terminal suspension damage. In Brno, Hankook 24H DUBAI winners Car Collection Motorsport (#88) started from the top-spot but broken steering meant the Audi retired from the event two hours from home. Finally, Herberth Motorsport (#93), despite formidable pace by Klaus Bachler in the opening stages, slowly fell back to 4th at the flag over the 24 hours, but could at least celebrate a win in A6-Am.
Even in the 24H TCE SERIES, first place on the grid hasn’t guaranteed success either. Like Scuderia Praha, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) took pole and the win in Spa-Francorchamps, but Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112), which currently leads both the 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents standings, has only started one of its five races so far from the front row of the grid (7th in Dubai, 6th in Mugello, 17th in Spa, 5th in Brno, and 2nd in Portimão).
3) Scuderia Praha became the first team in the 24H GT SERIES to win four races in a row since 2017…
Yes, we know Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport’s BMW won every category it entered in last year’s 24H TCE SERIES.
In the 24H GT SERIES meanwhile, Scuderia Praha’s sensational run of four outright wins this season not only gives the Czech team an 11-point lead in the 24H GT SERIES Europe standings, but also marks the first time in two years that one team has won the same category more than three times in a row.
That team was PROSport Performance, then competing with a 991-I Cup, which took four consecutive wins in the 991 class at Mugello, the Red Bull Ring, Paul Ricard and Imola. Though the team won twice more in Portimão and COTA in 2017, one of those wins was in the SP2 class.
4) …and has also led more than 1000 laps in total of the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO
Some events just work for a team or manufacturer. Team Black Falcon often pulls a blinder at the Hankook 24H DUBAI for example, just as NM Racing Team has been the outfit to beat, in-class, in Barcelona. Of course being based 10 minutes from the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya might have something to do with that.
For Scuderia Praha, the Czech team can now add the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve to the list that already includes Mugello and Brno, given the Ferrari’s recent run at the former and its undefeated streak at the latter.
Neither comes close to Hankook 24H PORTIMAO though in terms of success. Of the 2029 laps completed at the event in 2017, 2018 and 2019, Scuderia Praha has led 1350 of them.
Just to put that into context, the next highest is 373 for Wochenspiegel Team Monschau. Yep, another Ferrari. Plus, even if you include totals from both Herberth Motorsport Porsches (137), both GP Extreme Renaults (22), and both Car Collection Motorsport Audis (20), you’re still only at 552…
5) GPX scored its best ever result in the 24H SERIES
Even if Herberth Motorsport’s on-track conflagration hadn’t occurred during the night and the Bavarian team had continued to finish 2nd, GPX Racing (#24) would still have been on for one of its best ever results in the 24H SERIES. Upon its arrival in the series with the Renaultsport R.S. 01 in 2017, the team from the United Arab Emirates took two 4th places and an overall 3rd place in its first four outings, the latter occurring at the 2017 Hankook 12H RED BULL RING.
Before Portugal, that 3rd place – 2nd in A6-Am – was the team’s best result, one the new Porsche 991 GT3 R pounded into submission by finishing 2nd overall and 2nd in the A6-Pro class.
The only driver to be involved in both results? Jordan Grogor, who teamed with Nicky Pastorelli, Alexandre Cougnaud and Jean-Pierre Valentini last weekend, and Frederic Fatien and Bassam Kronfli in Austria two years ago.
6) Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport finally broke the streak in GT4
Since GT4 became a stand-alone category in 2018, only one team – the British-based Fox Motorsport – has won the class more than once in 10 outings (Portimão and Spa, for the completionists amongst you). If you take the intervening 2018 Hankook 24H BARCELONA as the starting point, that means six different teams took taken GT4 class victory between Barcelona last year and this year’s Hankook 12H BRNO.
How fitting then that reigning 24H TCE SERIES champion Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#50) would bring that run to an end in the Algarve with its second GT4 win of the season, and its first since Mugello. With a 14-point lead in-class in the 24H GT SERIES Europe standings, it’s looking increasingly likely that the Swiss-German collaboration will take its second championship title on the bounce in 2019 too.
7) Teams from five different nationalities have taken 991 class victory this year
Interestingly, DUWO Racing continued two different streaks at this year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO. Firstly, the #909 Porsche 991-II Cup became the ninth different car to win in the 991 class since last year’s Portuguese round (Porsche Lorient Racing won in both Barcelona last year and Mugello in March, but did so with two different cars).
Secondly, the Luxembourg team emulated Speed Lover (Belgian), Modena Motorsports (Hong Kong*), Porsche Lorient Racing (French), and Duel Racing (British) to become the fifth different nationality to win a race in 991 this season.
If you include COTA last year (JDX Racing, American) and Spa (EBIMOTORS, Italian), that’s seven nationalities in a row in 991.
*Eagle-eyed readers will note that Modena Motorsport was down as ‘German’ in the 12H SPA entry list, a nod to the nationality of race:pro motorsport, the Stuttgart-based outfit that operated the Porsche that weekend.
8) Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing now has more class wins than any other single TCR team
In Portimão, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) took its fourth TCR-class win from five races. Were that not impressive enough, the Swiss Volkswagen broke free of a six-way tie to become the team with the most TCR class wins since the 24H TCE SERIES was created for 2016.
Heading into this year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, Autorama was level-pegging with MONLAU COMPETICION, Duel Racing, Team Altran Peugeot, LMS Racing*, and Red Camel-Jordans.nl, each of which had three wins apiece on their respective books.
*Quite correct. If you count Bas Koeten Racing and its many affiliated entries as ‘one team’, then technically, the Dutch stalwart would have a combined total of five wins in the TCR class, courtesy of one apiece for Kawasaki Racing and NKPP Racing, and three for LMS Racing. If Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing can maintain its recent run of form, a de facto ‘most successful TCR team’ could be crowned at COTA.
9) Synchro Motorsport scores the first outright TCE podium position for an A3-class car
How apt that, just one week after Honda secured its first F1 win as an engine supplier in 13 years, the Japanese marque would also score its best result in the 24H TCE SERIES.
…look, we know it’s a tenuous link, just go with it, okay.
The Synchro Motorsport-run ‘FK8’ Honda Civic Type-R took the A3-class win at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, and was on course to finish 4th overall in the TCE division until the Nordschleife Racing Peugeot 308 Racing Cup sputtered to a halt on-track with just minutes left on the clock. Come the chequered flag, 3rd in TCE belonged to Synchro Motorsport.
Prior to this, the highest an A3-class entry had finished at a 24H TCE SERIES event since the division was introduced for 2016 was the third race of that first season at Silverstone, in which Team Altran Peugeot finished 4th overall. It would be 3.5 years before an A3 entry scored the category’s debut TCE podium.
*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES