Four rounds in and with one more to go, it’s time to crown our 24H SERIES Europe champions for 2019. And alongside the standings, there are a few things you should bear in mind during our 24-hour title showdown. For instance…
1) Might this be the first year since 2013 that Porsche doesn’t take an overall win in the 24H SERIES?
Though the team has clearly lost none of its competitive edge, having claimed three consecutive A6-Am class wins and coming unbearably close to an overall GT win at Spa-Francorchamps, Herberth Motorsport (#91), unusually, goes into the 2019 24H SERIES powered by Hankook season finale without an outright win under its belt. We’ve never seen that. Even in its maiden campaign in 2015, the Bavarian team scooped the overall win in Mugello, two rounds in.
It’s even rarer to see Porsche ‘win-less’ overall in the 24H SERIES. To find the last time that happened, you have to go back to 2013, when Mercedes-AMG and Lamborghini were represented on the top step in Dubai and Barcelona, and Hungary respectively.
Can Herberth Motorsport end this particular streak in Barcelona? Absolutely. The team, after all, is a previous two-time winner of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
2) Scuderia Praha has won the last round of the European season finale every year since 2015
If the recent run by Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) wasn’t enough to put the Czech team in the hot seat heading into Barcelona, then this probably will be. Not since SPS automotive performance took victory at the Hankook 12H HUNGARY to close out the 2014 season has anyone other than Scuderia Praha failed to win the last European round of a 24H SERIES season. And bear in mind, the Czech Ferrari didn’t even enter the event that year.
The Ferrari 458 GT3 did enter three races that year though, finishing 4th in Mugello, DNF-ing at Zandvoort, and securing the win at the penultimate round of the season at, of all places, Barcelona.
3) CP Racing leads the A6-Am title chase, but hasn’t won a race yet
Charles Putman, Charles Espenalub and Joe Foster have a habit of being in championship hunt come the end of the season. The American trio for instance took the Overall Teams’, Overall Drivers’ and the 991-class championships with PROsport Performance in commanding fashion after winning six of the seven races held in 2017. One year later, now racing a Mercedes-AMG GT3 in A6-Am, the teammates once again took the gold, securing the Overall Teams and Overall Drivers’ crowns in both 24H SERIES Europe and 24H SERIES Continents, as well as the A6-Am crown.
This year – surprise, surprise – the ‘Charleses’ and Foster are at the top of the A6-Am title chase in the 24H SERIES Europe, having done so without winning a race all year. The closest the newly established ‘CP Racing’ has got was at Brno, when the ‘American team’ finished 2nd in-class and took the final spot on the overall podium. Barring a 13th place finish in Dubai, the trio has finished every race on the A6-Am podium, and now holds an 18-point advantage over nearest rivals Car Collection Motorsport (#34) and a further point over Herberth Motorsport (#93). What finer way to seal a title than with the team’s first class win as CP Racing?
4) Cor Euser Racing could still take the SPX title, despite a rough debut with the MARC II V8
Chances are series favourite Cor Euser will have hoped for a more successful maiden campaign with the MARC II V8 than his eponymous outfit has experienced. Accident damage knocked the MARC out of contention at Spa-Francorchamps, while a terminal oil leak left the team stranded in Portimão.
Salvation though could still be on the horizon. Despite having no points on the board in the 24H SERIES Europe rankings, a win would be enough – just – for the #717 machine to draw level with current SPX-class leader, Leipert Motorsport, which is unable to compete at Barcelona.
Ironically, the Dutch team’s only points haul so far this season came courtesy of the team’s now retired BMW M3 finishing 5th in SPX at the season opener in Dubai.
5) Porsche Lorient Racing vs. Porsche Lorient Racing for the ‘991’ class Drivers’ title
Well now, this could get interesting…
It will take quite a bit to best Porsche Lorient Racing (#911) in the 24H SERIES Europe. The Porsche 911-II-Cup holds a 22-point lead over DUWO Racing (#909) – tough to overhaul but not impossible – thanks to three consecutive 3rd place finishes from Mugello to Brno and a runners-up spot at Portimão. This consistency means the team also lies 3rd in the overall 24H GT SERIES Europe Teams’ standings.
Still, the fight for the 24H GT SERIES Europe Drivers’ title in the 991 category couldn’t be much closer, as Frédéric Ancel and Jean-François Demorge, both of whom will race the #911 car in Barcelona, hold just a two point lead over Lionel Amrouche, who will compete in the sister #912.
In the title race, it all comes down to which driver finishes in front.
6) One point separates FOUR drivers at the top of the 24H TCE SERIES Europe standings
And guess what? None of them have driven for Autorama this season.
Yep. Amazing as the run has been for Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) in 2019, none of the team’s drivers has been at the helm for each of the team’s four wins. In fact, only one has been involved in more than two, Fabian Danz having taken victory in Dubai (not eligible for the European season anyway), Mugello and Brno.
All that has left AC Motorsport teammates James Kaye and Stephane Perrin on top in the TCE drivers’ standings, courtesy of three podiums and a top five finish. The pair are just two points clear of British teammates Alyn James and Daniel Wheeler, who have taken the last two A3 category wins for Synchro Motorsport in Brno and Portimão, plus 3rd place finishes at Mugello and Spa.
The highest ‘Autorama’ driver is, unsurprisingly, Danz, who’s currently 3rd in the standings, 12 points adrift. And ironically, the Swiss driver will be racing the TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing-entered CUPRA TCR (#131) in Barcelona.
7) SIX different manufacturers are represented at the top of the 24H TCE SERIES standings
Unsurprisingly, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) is on top of the TCE pile with its Volkswagen Golf GTI, with fellow TCR runners AC Motorsport (#188) just behind with the Audi RS3 LMS. In 3rd is A3 class leader Synchro Motorsport (#676), the Honda Civic Type-R of which lies just one point further adrift.
Despite winning outright in Spa, the Red Camel-Jordans.nl CUPRA TCR (#101) has endured a tough season, and currently lies 4th ahead of the BMW M240i Racing Cup of ‘CUP1’ 24H SERIES Continents leader, Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869). Last up is Dan Agro Racing, whose Peugeot RCZ started its season with a bang and two back-to-back victories in Mugello and Spa.
Look, we know we go on quite a bit about the diverse range of manufacturers and tight competition in the 24H SERIES, but can you really blame us?
8) Munckhof Racing and CWS Engineering go into the European season finale on the exact same points in SP3
So far in 2019, both CWS Engineering (#378) and Munckhof Racing (#310) have made just one 24H SERIES Europe appearance, in Spa-Francorchamps and Mugello respectively. Successful appearances these proved to be too, with both the Ginetta G55 and the BMW M4 GTR finishing 2nd in-class in their respective races. That means, heading into Barcelona, both are now at the top of the ‘SP3’ standings on 15 points apiece.
But which will come out on top?
This could prove a very tough ask for Munckhof Racing. CWS after all is the reigning SP3-class champion in 24H TCE SERIES Europe, having also won the crown in 2017. Team owner/driver Colin White is the reigning SP3 Drivers’ champion, and is in contention once again against Eric van der Munckhof and the Dutch team owner’s teammate, Marco Poland. On top of all that, CWS even took the SP3 category win at Barcelona last year. Let’s just say Munckhof’s maiden 24H SERIES win would be well-timed!
Spare a thought though for Vortex V8 (#301), which lies just four points behind in the standings and took a remarkable maiden series win at the 2019 season opener in Dubai. A shock title win isn’t out of the question….
9) Synchro Motorsport is 16 points behind in the TCE standings, and came from 22 back to win the title in 2017
Hark back to 2017, and Synchro Motorsport went into the European season finale of the 24H TCE SERIES with two wins already under its belt and a solid lead in the A3 standings. The overall TCE championship was a mathematical possibility, sure, but not what the British squad was focusing its attention on.
Come the chequered flag of the 2017 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, the Synchro Honda Civic, after a frenetic race, was up to 3rd in the A3-class, while runaway TCE leaders QSR Racingschool, MONLAU COMPETICION, and CWS Engineering were buried deep in the mid-field, each a victim of torrid fortune. Having gone into the weekend 22 points adrift of the TCE championship leader, Synchro Motorsport left the season finale two points in the clear.
Heading into this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, Synchro Motorsport goes into the European season finale of the 24H TCE SERIES with two wins already under its belt and a solid lead in the A3 standings. The overall TCE championship is a mathematical possibility, sure, but…
…well, hey, you never know!
*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba Photographer and 24H SERIES