At this year’s Hankook 12H MONZA, Herberth Motorsport took a commanding 1-2-3 finish in the GT division, while Red Camel-Jordans.nl came from four laps back in the TCE ranks to take victory ahead of Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing and Brutal Fish by KCMG. But did you know…?
It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that Herberth Motorsport was the first team to take this particular accolade. The Bavarian team, a regular contender since 2015, now has 12 outright wins to its name in the 24H SERIES (plus an extra four class victories), secured the inaugural 24H SERIES Continents, and last year’s A6-Am 24H SERIES Europe title. When the team started entering three Porsche 911 GT3 Rs last season, fans and rivals alike knew that the Renauer twins would provide some serious competition.
To have three cars on the outright GT podium though is nevertheless an impressive achievement. The last time a team got more than one car on the overall podium for example was…er, one round ago at Portimão, the honours once again going to Herberth Motorsport (1st and 2nd). Pre-coronavirus though, the last time one team had two cars finish on the overall GT podium was at the 2014 12H ZANDVOORT, at which Car Collection Motorsport finished both 1st and 3rd with Peter Schmidt, Christian Bracke, Renger van der Zande, and Mirco Schultis, and Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff, Gustav Edelhoff, and Elmar Grimm respectively.
This isn’t the first time one team has swept any podium in the 24H SERIES, however. At the very first event in Dubai in 2006, Team Mirage Australian managed to get all three of its Mitsubishi Mirage RS’ onto that year’s ‘A1’ class podium. Admittedly, it’s still a rarity to see. In fact, prior to Herberth Motorsport’s achievement, you have to go back to Dubai again, in 2010 this time, to find the last time one team monopolized a podium of any sort in the 24H SERIES, when the trio of Marcos Racing International BMW 120Ds claimed all three spots on the D1 podium.
At last weekend’s Hankook 12H MONZA, Jürgen Häring, Taki Konstantinou and Alfred Renauer took victory for Herberth Motorsport (#92), Häring crossing the line just 28.741s ahead of Klaus Bachler, also competing for Herberth Motorsport (#93, Bachler / Steffen Görig / Stefan Aust). To-date, only three races in 24H SERIES history have had a closer finish, two of which, bizarrely, Herberth were also involved with.
At last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA, Barwell Motorsport bested Herberth Motorsport by just 10.481s. Incredibly, this wasn’t even the closest finish of the season. Earlier that season, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha also beat Herberth to the flag, this time by an even slimmer 7.871s. Monza makes three, and, interestingly, was the only time at which Herberth finished ahead.
The latter point must sting just a little for Daniel Allemann, Ralf Bohn, and Robert Renauer, who finished 2nd at Spa and Barcelona in 2019 (the latter alongside Sven Müller), but suffered gearbox failure in sight of the flag at Monza last weekend whilst leading. Ouch!
By the way, for the completionists amongst you, the 2014 12H MUGELLO, at which the AF Corse Ferrari 458 was just 5.417s ahead of the Stadler Motorsport Porsche 997 at the flag, is the closest 24H SERIES event finish to-date.
As explained by radiolemans.com’s irreplaceable Jonny Palmer, Mike Verschuur’s 1m 48.821s laptime during qualifying for the Hankook 12H MONZA marked not only Equipe Verschuur’s first pole position in the 24H SERIES, but the first for anything other than a Mercedes-AMG GT3 since last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA. This was also the first time a Renault R.S.01 has started from GT pole position at a 24H SERIES event.
First introduced at the 2014 Moscow International Auto Show, the R.S.01 made its 24H SERIES bow with BOUTSEN GINION RACING at the 2016 Hankook 24H DUBAI. Since then, Renault’s leading sports car has claimed multiple class podium finishes, but prior to last weekend’s 12H MONZA, had only started one race from the front row. That was back at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO in 2017, when GP Extreme – later ‘GPX Racing’ – lined up alongside polesitter, and eventual event winner, Scuderia Praha.
Reiter Engineering threw, what looked to be, a shock spanner in the works for Herberth Motorsport when the SPX-class outfit took the overall lead, on merit, on lap 63 of the Hankook 12H MONZA. After its pit stop, the KTM GTX Concept – essentially the latest evolution of the X-BOW – was back in the lead again on lap 75, and, to the surprise of many, collected the chequered flag as the overall leader at the end of day one, having led 33 laps en-route.
Tenured fans of the 24H SERIES were reminded of another shock contender for victory three years earlier at the 2017 Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, when the KTM X-BOW GT4 of RTR Projects took the lead on lap 11 and held it almost uninterrupted to the chequered flag at the end of day one. The KTM’s total time in the lead? 32 laps.
In bittersweet irony, neither KTM managed to turn their early pace into a victory. At Monza, Reiter Engineering lost an hour to electrical problems, but eventually collected 3rd in GTX, 23 laps down on the class winner. RTR Projects meanwhile, which also suffered electrical problems (on the restart grid, brutally), ended up collecting 6th in the SP3-GT4 class at Spa in 2017, 10 laps down.
As of this year’s Hankook 12H MONZA, Belgium’s Dominique Bastien is now a five-time class winner in the 24H SERIES, having sealed his fifth alongside Gavin Pickering in the #978 Speed Lover Porsche 911-II Cup at the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza.
What’s astonishing though is that, en-route to the chequered flag, Dominique has raced alongside eight different teammates but hasn’t taken a repeat win with any of them.
The American’s first category win was taken in SPX at the 2018 Hankook 12H SILVERSTONE alongside compatriot Phillippe Denes. Granted, it was a little while before Bastien stood on the top step again, but after that, he was on a roll, taking three 991 class wins in 2019 with Wim Meulders (Brno), Nigel Farmer, Keong Liam Lim, and Richard Verburg (Barcelona), and Frédéric Ancel, Jean-François Demorge, and Eric Mouez (COTA). All but one with Speed Lover (COTA honours were taken with Porsche Lorient Racing).
With Dominique Bastien again set to partner Gavin Pickering at Barcelona, one wondered whether the American can break this odd precedent at the sixth time of asking.
Heading into last weekend’s Hankook 12H MONZA, ARC Bratislava (#707) hadn’t turned a wheel in anger in the 24H SERIES since the 2015 Hankook 24H BARCELONA. The SP2 class of which, the Slovakian team won, incidentally. ARC Bratislava also made a triumphant return to the series at Monza, winning the GTX class ahead of JR Motorsport (#703) and early leader Reiter Engineering (#746) after a gap of four years and 10 months. It’s not often we see a team go so long without a win in the 24H SERIES.
Interestingly though, the Slovakian team though doesn’t quite take the prize for longest time between wins in the 24H SERIES. On 12 January 2013, FACH AUTO TECH took the A6-Am class win at the season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI. Five years and one day later, the Swiss team once again took class victory at the 2018 Hanoook 24H DUBAI, albeit this time in the 991-PRO class.
The remarkable streak in GT4 continued at the Hankook 12H MONZA, when MDM Motorsport (#450), led by Tom and Tim Coronel, and an Jaap van Roon, became the 14th different team to take a GT4 class win since the category was created for the 2018 season.
So far, only Fox Motorsport and 2018 Overall TCE Teams’ champion Hofor-Racing powered by Bonk Motorsport have taken repeat wins, having done so at Portimão and Spa in 2018, and Mugello and Portimão in 2019 respectively.
The remaining teams on that increasing list now includes – deep breath – Phoenix Racing (Dubai ’18), QSR Racingschool (Navarra ’18), Allied Racing (Imola ’18), NM Racing Team (Barcelona ’18), Classic BMW (COTA ’18), MRS GT-Racing (Dubai ’19), RTR Projects (Brno ’19), Orchid Racing Team (Barcelona ’19), RHC Jorgensen/Strom (COTA ’19), Atlas BX Motorsports (Dubai ’20), Muhlner Motorsport (Portimão, ’20), and now MDM Motorsport (Monza ’20).
Granted, TCE qualifying over the last few years has been ruled by the likes of SEAT/CUPRA and Ginetta, with more than 80 percent of the TCE poles claimed since 2016 belonging to either the Spanish tin top or the British sports car. At this year’s Hankook 12H MONZA though, Daniel Lloyd and Brutal Fish by KCMG (#122) made a breakthrough when the duo’s 2m 01.171s netted Honda its first TCE pole position in the 24H SERIES since the division was created in 2016. Sure, Honda has taken class pole positions in the past, with both Synchro Motorsport and RKC/GTM taking multiple poles with their respective Civics in both ‘A3’ and ‘A2’. But overall? Nope.
Not only that, but Monza also marked the first time a Honda Civic Type-R has started on the TCE front row at a 24H SERIES event. To find the previous best qualifying for a Honda, you have to go back to the Hankook 24H PAUL RICARD in 2017, when Insightracing Denmark’s Civic Type-R started 3rd on the TCE grid behind Car Collection Motorsport’s Audi RS3 LMS and Modena Motorsport’s SEAT Leon.
Fun fact, did you know that Honda now has more outright TCE pole positions in the 24H SERIES than Volkswagen? Incredibly, despite Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing’s monumental run last year, and Liqui Moly Team Engstler’s win at the Hankook 24H DUBAI back in 2018, a Volkswagen Golf has yet to start from overall pole in the 24H SERIES’ TCE division.
If the site of a Honda on the overall TCE podium may seem unusual, that’s not too surprising, given the tenacity of the CUPRA TCR, the Volkswagen Golf GTi, and the Audi RS3 LMS across the last two seasons alone. However, Brutal Fish by KCMG’s TCE podium finish at Monza was not the first for the Civic Type-R, which has finished in the TCE top three only one other time in 24H SERIES history.
That came at last year’s Hankook 24H PORTIMAO when, in a dramatic finish, Nordschleife Racing’s Peugeot 308 Racing Cup suffered gearbox failure almost in-sight of the flag. With barely 15 minutes left on the clock and with only a handful of laps to make up, A3-class leader Synchro Motorsport, running 4th overall, managed to claim the final TCE podium spot with its ‘FK8’-spec Honda Civic Type-R.
It wouldn’t be too much of an understatement to say the first-ever Hankook 12H MONZA had a bit of everything: on-track action; drama at the flag; a shock leader; a charismatic venue; changeable weather; etc, etc.
That last point is particularly notable, given that the Autodromo Nazionale di Monza, which had enjoyed beautiful sunshine and temperatures throughout Friday and most of Saturday, was temporarily overwhelmed by a rainstorm on Saturday morning. The downpour was so abrupt in fact that the track was quickly waterlogged, leading to a brief red flag period.
That means the on-track running at the first-ever Hankook 12H MONZA was a little over 10 hours in the end. 10 hours, 8 minutes, and 26 seconds, to be precise. We doubt we could squeeze that onto next year’s poster though…
*Images courtesy of Petr Frýba