At this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, both Herberth Motorsport and Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing secured 1-2 finishes respectively in the GT and TCE divisions. But did you know…?
Following similar triumphs at Mugello and Circuit Paul Ricard, Herberth Motorsport took its third win of the season last weekend at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, a result that catapulted the Bavarian team to the top of the GT3-class standings. It also marked the tenth 24H SERIES race in succession to be won outright by a Porsche.
Unsurprisingly, perennial series frontrunner Herberth have accumulated most of those wins with six: three in 2020 (Portimão, Monza and Mugello) and three in 2021 (Mugello, again, Circuit Paul Ricard, and Barcelona). The UAE’s GPX Racing is up next with two at the COPPA FLORIO in 2020 and the Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2021. Finally, Bas Koeten Racing – the only one of these teams to take an outright win with a Porsche Cup car – and Haegeli by T2 Racing took one apiece at the Hockenheimring in 2020 and 2021.
Put another way, the last time a Porsche did not win a 24H SERIES event outright was when the Black Falcon Mercedes-AMG GT3 collected the chequered flag in Dubai in January 2020.
This unbelievable streak makes it all the more ironic that a) Porsche didn’t feature on the overall podium in Dubai, and b) Porsche didn’t take an overall win at all one year earlier in 2019!
Speaking with radiolemans.com’s Nick Daman after qualifying for the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, polesitter Robert Renauer explained that “we did only one shot – all in on this one shot – and it worked out for us,” and went on to say, “I think [this is] the first pole position for us in more than one year, so a really good result.”
Robert, as it turns out, was being a bit modest. In fact, Barcelona ’21 was the first time Herberth’s #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R had started from pole position since the Hankook 24H IMOLA back in 2017, four years and just over two months earlier!
Now, while the sister #92 and #93 Porsches have secured two outright pole positions and a further four front row grid slots since Herberth Motorsport became a multi-car effort in 2019, the #91 crew has very much focused on race pace. To the point that, between Imola 2017 and Barcelona 2021, Robert and Alfred Renauer, Ralf Bohn and Daniel Allemann had only started on the front row ONCE – Circuit Paul Ricard earlier this year – in that time, and had even started as low as 12th on two separate occasions.
That might not sound all that impressive, were it not for the fact that the #91 Herberth Porsche has secured 14 outright wins and a further class victories since its series debut in 2015!
As well as setting the record for the most laps completed at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA during the event’s GT-era, another, lesser-spotted record also fell Herberth’s way during this year’s event. Heaving into last weekend, Herberth Motorsport was one of only three multi-time overall winners at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA courtesy of its victories in 2016 and 2018 alongside Zener Racing (2006 and 2008) and Team Codony Sport (2002 and 2003). The Bavarian team now stands alone as the only three-time winner of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
Of course, Porsche still has some catching up to do to equal SEAT’s phenomenal success at the event: while the Bavarian brand now has three outright wins to its name, SEAT has five. And that’s not even counting the Spanish marque’s TCE division honours!
Moving away from Herberth Motorsport and Porsche, let’s take a look at the prancing horse, specifically the Ferrari 488 GT3 raced by WTM powered by Phoenix at Barcelona. That was the team’s first 24H SERIES race since the Hankook 12H MONZA in 2020 (at which, incidentally, the team also hit the front for one lap), and while terminal gearbox issues meant the #22 Ferrari ultimately did not see the chequered flag in Montmeló, the German team nevertheless spent more time at the front of the field – 78 laps in total – than it has done at any other point in the last three seasons.
Indeed, you have to go back to the 2017 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, at which Wochenspiegel Team Monschau led 373 laps en-route to 2nd place overall, to find the last time WTM Racing led more laps at a 24H SERIES event. Since then, and prior to Barcelona, the German team’s only other time at the head of the field was a single lap in the lead at the 2020 Hankook 12H MONZA.
Heading into this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, series regular Vortex V8 had been on an unprecedented run of success with its eponymous 1.0 sports car: between the season-opener at Dubai and round four at the Hockenheimring, the French team collected five class podiums, four more than the Vortex 1.0 had managed since its full season debut in 2017! Mechanical woes regrettably meant that Vortex could only salvage 5th and 6th in-class at Barcelona, breaking the team’s podium streak in the process.
At the front, Reiter Engineering secured its third GTX win of the 2021 season at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, moving the German team to third in the Overall GT Teams’ championship and three points ahead of Vortex V8 in the GTX-class standings. Behind, and while disappointed to have lost a comfortable win after a loss of power on the start-finish straight during the night, True-Racing nevertheless managed to secure 2nd in-class at Barcelona and a podium finish for MotoGP’s Miguel Oliveira on his endurance racing debut.
Interestingly, this 1-2 finish means the KTM X-BOW has now secured the same number of GTX-class podium finishes as the Vortex V8 has so far this season.
Established in 1998 as the first official Porsche Motorsport facility in Italy, Enrico Borghi’s eponymous team made a huge splash upon its arrival in the 24H SERIES in 2018, taking three wins from five races at Navarra, Imola and Spa-Francorchamps (on-track collisions led to 5th in-class and a DNF at Portimão and Barcelona respectively). A one-off run with the Porsche 718 Cayman Clubsport at Mugello in 2020 produced 3rd in GT4, and in 2021, the Italian team, now collaborating with Willi Motorsport in 2021, has now taken wins at Mugello and Barcelona. Only late-race brake issues prevented the Romanian-Italian from taking a well-deserved 2nd in 991 at Hockenheim.
Across its 24H SERIES career then, Ebimotors has now taken five wins and an additional podium since 2018. That’s pretty impressive in a discipline as tough as endurance racing!
The mixed bag that is GT4 – a discipline representing pretty much every manufacturer on the planet – has arguably produced some of the most competitive racing to-date in the 24H SERIES, with brand titans like BMW, Audi, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche, and even independents like Ginetta and KTM, having secured class wins since its introduction for 2018.
BMW’s M4 though has now stolen a march in GT4, ST Racing securing the Bavarian brand’s mid-sized flagship coupe its tenth win in GT4 competition. Alongside the Canadian team, which also won the season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI, Team Avia Sorg Rennsport and Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport have also both taken two wins apiece in 2020 (Hockenheim and Mugello) and 2019 (Mugello and Portimão) respectively. Classic BMW (COTA ’18), MRS GT-Racing (Dubai ’19), RHC Jorgensen/Strom (COTA ’19), and MDM Motorsport (Monza ’20) have each taken one win apiece with the BMW M4 GT4.
In perhaps a surprise turn, Aston Martin has recorded four GT4 class wins with PROsport Performance since the Vantage made its official series debut in 2019 (Portimão and the COPPA FLORIO in 2020, and Paul Ricard and Hockenheim in 2021). Interestingly, Audi has yet to add to the three wins Fox Motorsport and Phoenix Racing took with the R8 LMS GT4 in 2018.
To see Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing on the top step of the TCE podium isn’t too big of a shock: the Swiss-German-entered Volkswagen Golfs have now netted 11 wins in TCR, more so than any other team since the category was introduced to the 24H SERIES for 2016. Even the 1-2 finish at Barcelona was the third the team has secured in the last two seasons. Surprisingly though, this year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA marked the first time Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing has finished 1-2 at a 24-hour race.
Autorama’s previous achievements were scored at the 16H HOCKENHEIMRING in 2020 and the 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD earlier this year. The team’s previous best at a 24-hour race meanwhile prior to Barcelona had been the 2nd and 3rd in TCR earlier this year in Dubai behind the victorious TOPCAR Sport. Amazingly, even with 11 wins and two Overall TCE Teams’ titles already under its belt, it looks like Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing is just getting stronger!
Spanish tin top success is nothing new at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA: only when the GT-era began in 2011 for example did a non-Spanish team finish on the event’s overall podium for the first time, and the consistency with which Spanish touring car teams have finished on the podium across the 22 editions of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA to-date is incredible.
RAIL EQUIP BY TOTCAR SPORT became the most recent ‘inductee’ when the Barcelona-based squad finished 3rd behind the Autorama Motorsport Volkswagens. Baporo Motorsport continued a trend it had started in 2016 by finishing 2nd in 2019 to TOPCAR Sport, while eventual TCR-class champion MONLAU COMPETICION finished 3rd overall at the TCR-only edition of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA in 2017. 2018 though remains the benchmark, MONLAU’s collaboration with Cupra Racing taking the TCR-class win ahead of, yep, Baporo.
Prior to TCR’s introduction in 2016, MONLAU finished 2nd (as ‘KH7 – MONLAU) and 1st in the touring car-focused A3T class in 2015 and 2014 respectively, while PCR Sport took its own category win back in 2011. RCA Sport kept the run going with 3rd in-class in 2012.
2013 therefore is the black sheep for Spanish touring cars at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA. That year, Monlau Competición’s two entrants was the highest of the national runners in 6th and 7th in A3T.
Despite hitting trouble in Barcelona, TCX-class victory has now vaulted CWS Engineering to the Overall TCE Teams’ championship lead, one point clear of Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing. It marks the fifth TCX podium in a row for the British team following 2nd place finishes in Dubai, Mugello, Paul Ricard, and victory at Hockenheim.
The last time the British team took back-to-back wins was at Barcelona (interestingly) and Spa-Francorchamps in 2018 en-route to that year’s SP3-class championship.
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Petr Frýba and Eric Teeken