The Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 (#11, Jiří Písařík / Josef Kral / Matteo Malucelli) has won the first-ever Hankook 12H NAVARRA. Matteo Malucelli drove over the finish line to complete 387 laps of the 3.933km Circuito de Navarra in northern Spain to take the team’s first series victory since last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO after a largely trouble-free run.
Top 3 Overall
A quick rain shower and contact in the early going had threatened to knock the Ferrari out of contention, but in the end, the Czech-run team was able to cruise to a well-deserved victory on the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook’s first visit to Navarra.
“It was just a great race,” said Malucelli’s teammate Josef Kral. “It looked much easier from the outside than it was behind the steering wheel. But in the end the team did a great job, it’s our first win of the season, and hopefully we can keep up the momentum.”
The Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#34, Gustav Edelhoff / Elmar Grimm / Max Edelhoff) finished three laps behind in 2nd place after a stunning battle for A6-Am honours in the closing half-hour. Having finished ‘part one’ of the Hankook 12H NAVARRA in the lead, the German-run Audi lined up on pole position for today’s restart grid, never dropping outside the top 10 en-route to its third A6-Am win in four starts.
“Max [Edelhoff] was able to push more, but we had no fuel,” explained the young German’s teammate Gustav Edelhoff. “So he just had to save as much as he could for the last few laps. We’re not even sure he’ll make it to Parc Fermé!” He did.
After a superb effort, the PROsport Performance Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#85, Charles Putman / Charles Espenlaub / Joe Foster) finished just 1.6 seconds adrift of the Audi to secure 2nd in-class and its best result yet with the team’s new Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“You can’t get much closer than that!” said driver Charles Espenlaub. “We were amazed [Car Collection Motorsport] could make it that far, and I guess they just had a better strategy then we did, but we’re really happy and looking forward to the next race. We got a lot to drink about tonight!” A 20-second penalty post-race did not affect PROsport Performance’s position.
A6-PRO & A6-AM
Running 4th and 5th on the road respectively, the Forch Racing Porsche 991 GT3 R (#29, Zeljko Drmic / Patrick Eisemann / Robert Lukas) secured the A6-Pro runners-up spot just ahead of the Swiss Team Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#15, Roberto Pampanini / Christoph Lenz / Mauro Calamia), which completed the A6-Am podium. The IDEC SPORT RACING Mercedes-AMG GT3 meanwhile (#17, Patrice Lafargue / Paul Lafargue / Dimitri Enjalbert) started yesterday’s race from the front row, recovering from a slow start and a brief excursion through the gravel trap to nevertheless take the final step of the A6-Pro podium.
Despite dominating the first two hours of the race from pole position, the Hofor-Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (#1, Michael Kroll / Chantal Kroll / Roland Eggimann / Kenneth Heyer / Christiaan Frankenhout) finished just off the A6-Am podium in 7th after a misplaced gamble on pit strategy dropped the reigning A6 and GT champions down the order after the third hour. Behind them on the road was the second Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS (#33, Ali Çapan / Dirg Parhofer / Isaac Tutumlu Lopez / Peter Schmidt) and the Herberth Motorsport Porsche 991 GT3 R (#911, Daniel Allemann / Ralf Bohn / Robert Renauer). The latter had looked set to compete for outright victory until a clash on-track just 15 minutes into the race dropped the reigning Champions of the Continents to the tail of the field. Ironically, the car it clashed with was the Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari.
The EBIMOTORS Porsche 991-I Cup (#73, Lino Curti / Carlo Curti / Marco Frezza) rounded out the overall Top 10, and also collected the 991-class win on its series return. The Huber Motorsport Porsche 991-I Cup (#81, Peter Kieber / Thomas König / Adrian Spescha) and the Porsche Lorient Racing Porsche 991-I Cup (#64, Philippe Polette / Frederic Lelievre / Pascal Gibon) completed the category podium after its sister entry (#65, Jean-François Demorge / Alain Demorge / Gilles Blasco / Frédéric Ancel) was cruelly robbed of the final podium spot with just 15 minutes of running time left when a fuel pump cable disconnected.
The VDS Racing Adventures MARC Focus V8 (#58, Raphaël van der Straten / José Close) claimed its second category win of the season in Navarra, and was the only SPX entry still running at the chequered flag. Victory had looked set to go to the True-Racing KTM X-BOW (#116, Johannes Stuck / Ferdinand Stuck / Reinhard Kofler / Klaus Angerhofer), but the Austrian team could not remove the left rear wheel during a pit stop, retiring shortly afterwards. Cruelly, the sister entry (#117, TAKIS / Hubert Trunkenpolz / Gerald Kiska / Klaus Angerhofer / Reinhard Kofler) retired on the very same lap after making contact with the tyre barriers. Both KTMs though had done enough to secure 2nd and 3rd respectively on the SPX podium.
Victory in GT4 had looked a synch for the Endurance Team Romania Ginetta G55 GT4 (#446, Fabrizio Broggi / Sergiu Nicolae) on the team’s series return, but gearbox problems followed by a broken wishbones allowed the QSR Racingschool Mercedes-AMG GT4 (#254, Mario Timmers / Bert Redant / Michiel Verhaeren) to take its maiden GT4 class win.
European Championship action in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook continues next month at the Hankook 12H IMOLA on 24-25-26 May, which will see GT and TCE entries compete together on-track in Italy. One round later, GT, TCE and PROTO teams and drivers will be in Portimão, Portugal, for the second round of the 2018 Championship of the Continents. Further information on both this year’s calendar can be found at www.24hseries.com.