MONTMELÓ (8 September 2013) – Swiss team, Hofor Racing, claimed victory in the 16th running of the 24H BARCELONA – Trofeu Fermí Vélez. With the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3, drivers Michael Kroll, Roland Eggimann, Kenneth Heyer and Christiaan Frankenhout racked up a total of 605 laps of the 4.655 kilometres long circuit. After 24 hours, team owner Michael Kroll drove the sportscar across the finish line to secure victory. “We had our eyes set on a podium finish, but to win it outright is just fantastic. Even more so as this was only our second race with the SLS AMG and the first 24-hour race with this car,” Michael Kroll said. The Ruffier Racing-Porsche 997 Cup (#10, Lafargue/Lafargue/Racinet/Abergel) led the 997 Cup class for almost the entire race and finished an excellent second overall. Third place outright and victory in the D2 diesel class went to the MDM Motorsport-BMW 320D (#63, De Laat/De Prenter/Boorsma/Bus).
While Michael Kroll, Roland Eggimann and Christian Frankenhout all scored their maiden overall win in a 24-hour race, it was a very special success for German driver Kenneth Heyer. Having won the 24-hour race at Zolder in Belgium one week ago, he became the first driver in motorsport history to score back-to-back overall wins in 24-hour races on two consecutive weekends. However, he wasn’t even present to collect his trophy on the podium, because he was already on his way to Spa-Francorchamps to race there in a 600 kilometre race for the Belgian BRCC series this afternoon. That is a true endurance racer… Heyer’s trophy was collected by his father, German motor racing legend Hans Heyer, who wore his trademark Tyrolean hat on the podium.
The success for the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 was another endurance race win for the sportscar with its gullwing doors. Earlier this season, Mercedes-Benz teams already won the Dunlop 24H DUBAI, the 12H Bathurst and the 24-hour races at the Nürburgring and Spa-Francorchamps. The Hofor Racing-Mercedes moved up into the lead just after midnight as the Stadler-Porsche (#7, Matter/Amstutz/Siedler/ Baumann) retired with a blown engine. The Porsche had led the race for the best part of the first twelve hours. However, the Hofor-Mercedes had its fair share of problems, too. “The last ten hours of the race, we had to drive without second gear, which didn’t make it easy,” Dutch driver, Christiaan Frankenhout reported.
With heavy rain on Saturday afternoon and no less than 20 ‘Code 60’ and two safety car phases to neutralise the race following various incidents and accidents, the race was a challenging affair for all competitors. That also became apparent by the fairly high attrition rate. From the 56 cars that took the start, six were not classified as they had completed an insufficient number of laps and eleven cars officially retired.
Early race leaders Barwell Motorsport (#1 Aston Martin, Poole/Abra/Senna/Mücke) made a rapid recovery during the afternoon after losing a wheel in the opening hour, but dropped back again due to a hole in the radiator in the evening. In the early morning hours, a collision meant the end of the race for the Aston Martin. Stefan Mücke was taken to hospital for observation, but sustained no serious injuries. The collision also put an end to the race for the Clickvers.de-Porsche (#12, Destrée/Jodexnis/Pauels/Chzarnowski) that had run in the top three for most of the night. Another top three contender, the Car Collection Motorsport-Mercedes (#2, Schmidt/Mattschull/Schmersal/Edelhoff/Kirchhoff) retired following a crash just before midnight.
With their overall win, Hofor Racing also secured victory in class A6 with the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3 of Italian outfit, De Lorenzi Racing (#3, De Lorenzi/Nearn/Breukers/De Heus) second in class. French team, Ruffier Racing, won the Porsche 997 class, followed by the Motorsport Services STR team from New Zealand (#9, Niall/Niall/Harvey/Pilatti) and De Lorenzi Racing (#11, Tan/Keong/Fecchio/Paletto).
French team, GC Automobile Factory, had a clean sweep of the podium in the SP2 class with its two silhouette cars. Victory went to car number 17 (Montant/Perrin/ Fridman/Bonjean), followed by the team with the sister car with number 18 (Cimadomo/Amrouche/Provost/De la Chapelle). Class honours in SP3 went to the Italian Nova Race team with the Ginetta G50 GT4 (#25, Magnoni/Scarpaccio/Ghizzi/ Cressoni/Stefanelli), from the Cor Euser Racing-Lotus Evora GT4 (#22, Prewitt/ Euser/Severs/di Leo) and the Bonk Motorsport-BMW M3 (#21, Burghardt/Bonk/Bonk/ Partl/Weidinger).
British outfit Intersport Racing won class A5 with its BMW M3 (#33, Clarke/Gibson/ Hayes/Radcliffe), followed by the RTR Projects-BMW M3 (#32, Miniberger/Vitek/ Paulavets/Cervenka) and the MMC Motorsport-BMW (#30, Cox/Cox/Cox/Borness). A3T brought victory for the New Zealand-based Motorsport Services team with its SEAT Leon Supercopa (#43, Glasson/Mahy/Lowrey/Harris), who took the class win in the final hour after problems for the NKPP-Ymor Racing-SEAT (#37, Bessem/ Hilders/van den Berge/Posthumus) that still finished second in class from the Hofor/Kueperracing-BMW E46 M Coupé (#35, Kuepper/Kroll/Kroll/Feller). The German Besaplast Racing Team repeated its class victory in A2 from last year with the Mini Cooper S (#46, Kovac/Lestrup/Tekaat/Littig), followed by the Roadrunner Racing-Renault Clio (#51, Peter/Umemoto/Gronnig/Hrubesch) and the Solà Sport-Renault Clio (#52, Dauger/Antunes/Sarrea/Solà).
Swiss team TTC Racing led the D1 diesel class throughout to win with the Volkswagen Golf V TDI (#60, Schilliger/Kempf/Hans). The Red Camel Racing-SEAT Leon 2.0 TDI (#59, Dijkhof/Kresnik/Bassil/Faber) came second, Spanish team Black Motorsport ended up third with another SEAT (#58, Lloret/Sturlese/Parés/Pascual/ Salazar). D2 honours were taken by Dutch team MDM Motorsport, followed by British team Saxon Motorsport with the BMW 135D GTR (#56, Barrow/Corbett/Barrow).
Latest information, live-timing, photos and video footage can be found at live.24hseries.com. There will also be regular updates on Twitter (@24HSERIES, hashtag #24HBCN) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/24hseries). A highlights show of the 24H BARCELONA will be broadcast on Motors TV on October 6 at 21.00 hrs CET.