At the 2021 Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, Herberth Motorsport took its third consecutive event win, Porsche Lorient Racing made a winning return to the 24H SERIES, and Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing took a TCE win that had looked set to go to AC Motorsport. But did you know…?
At the 2021 Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD, Herberth Motorsport took its third win at the event with the Porsche 991 GT3 R. The Bavarian team was joined on the podium by the MiddleCap racing with Scuderia Praha Ferrari 488 GT3 and the Rutronik Racing by TECE Audi R8 LMS. Rewind to 2017, and the Herberth Motorsport Porsche was once again in the top spot, with Audi (Car Collection Motorsport) and Ferrari (Scuderia Praha) once again completing the GT rostrum.
Now that might not be seem much on the surface, until you look at the 2016 race when the Herberth Motorsport Porsche (obviously) was chased home by the Mercedes-AMGs of RAM Racing and Hofor-Racing. Meanwhile, at the inaugural event in 2015, it was RAM Racing that took the chequered flag, with Herberth Motorsport’s Porsche and HP Racing’s Mercedes following the British team home.
Basically, with one Porsche and two Mercedes featuring on the Paul Ricard podiums in 2015 and 2016, and a Porsche, Audi and Ferrari sharing the podium in 2017 and 2021, it does make you wonder which two brands will join the Stuttgart carmaker on the podium on CREVENTIC’s next two visits to Le Castellet…
Herberth Motorsport’s record at Circuit Paul Ricard is truly incredible: the Bavarian team has won three of the four events held, and its 14-lap winning margin in 2016 is among the highest in 24H SERIES history. Even more notable than that though is the fact that Herberth Motorsport has now led all but 649 of the 2,087 total laps completed at the Hankook 24H / 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD. Or 69 percent. Interestingly, Herberth spent the least amount of time in the lead – 118 laps – en-route to 2nd at the event in 2015, compared with the 533 laps, 560 laps and 227 laps the GT3 R completed in 2016, 2017 and 2021 respectively. Hardly surprising then that Porsche has also led more laps than any other manufacturer at the event.
The second most? That would be Mercedes-AMG with 536 total laps at the head of the field. Admittedly the bulk of that is courtesy of RAM Racing’s 449 laps in the lead in 2015.
In another odd sense of symmetry, the first three editions of the Hankook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD all featured eight Code 60s, equating to between 90 and 97 minutes of 60kph running. That the 12-hour edition had four Code 60 periods seemed apt.
What’s more notable though is the 26m 42s total time spent under Code 60 at Paul Ricard in 2021, as this marks only the fourth time since 2015 that a CREVENTIC event has featured less than 30 minutes of purple flag running. At the Hankook 12H BRNO in 2015, the purple flags flew for just 19m 41s. At the same event four years later, Code 60 was in force for 21m 46s, and at Mugello in 2019, competitors spent 20m 12s at 60kph.
Basically, three of the shortest Code 60 caution periods in 24H SERIES history have occurred in the last 13 races!
…but neither have pulled clear in the championship standings.
Both Herberth Motorsport and Reiter Engineering secured GT3(AM) and GTX honours respectively in Mugello and most recently at Circuit Paul Ricard. Herberth Motorsport’s duck egg in Dubai though – the result of a clash with DINAMIC MOTORSPORT in the opening two hours – means the Bavarian team is only one point ahead of nearest rival Car Collection Motorpsort in the GT3-AM standings. Indeed, had Car Collection managed to leapfrog its German compatriot Rutronik Racing (as it threatened to) for the final podium spot at Paul Ricard, the #88 Audi would actually be ahead in the standings, even without a championship win to its name so far this year.
It’s a similar situation in GTX. Reiter Engineering’s non-compete in Dubai means the KTM X-BOW is actually 12 points behind class leader Vortex V8, which has now taken three podium spots on the bounce in Dubai, Mugello and Paul Ricard.
Just goes to show that consistency really can make all the difference in endurance racing…
Both GT4 competitors hit trouble at Paul Ricard: terminal engine problems eliminated ST Racing just after half distance, while PROsport Racing lost more than an hour in the pits with turbocharger problems. The German team nevertheless fought back to secure GT4-class victory and the first win for the Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4 since last year’s COPPA FLORIO 12H Sicily.
The result also means that no SP3 / GT4 team, or manufacturer, has taken a repeat win at a CREVENTIC endurance event at Circuit Paul Ricard. Prior to PROsport’s win with the Aston, track-club took the SP3-GT4 class win in 2017 with a Lotus Evora GT4. ALFAB Racing meanwhile was victorious with its Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport in 2016, and Nova Race took ‘SP3’ honours in 2015 with its Ginetta G50 GT4. Added to that, because the previous winners were Italian, Swedish and British respectively, Germany’s PROsport ensured a fourth different nationality was represented on the GT4 top step at Circuit Paul Ricard.
Ironically, had ST Racing come through to win at Paul Ricard, the Canadian team’s BMW M4 GT4 would have kept the chain alive too!
Speed Lover, a 24H SERIES mainstay since the first Hankook 24H DUBAI in 2006, is no stranger to double podiums: at Monza last year for example, the Belgian team finished 1st and 2nd in the 991 class with its duo of Porsche 991-II Cups.
Circuit Paul Ricard though marked the first time that the reigning 991-class champion (Europe) had two cars on different class podiums during the same 24H SERIES race weekend. Jean-Pierre Verhoeven, Jaxon Verhoeven and Gilles Smits took the new 992-generation Porsche 911 GT3 Cup to 2nd in the GTX class, while Olivier Dons, Dominique Bastien and Eric Mouez secured 3rd in 991 with the sister Porsche 991-II Cup.
That’s the best multi-class result for the team by far in the 24H SERIES. Their previous best was in Dubai in 2018, when its trio of Porsche 991 Cups finished 3rd in SP2, 4th in SPX, and 6th in 991.
A 24H SERIES stalwart since 2015, Porsche Lorient Racing was a high-profile absentee from last year’s COVID-19 hit 24H SERIES, entering just one event – the Hankook 24H DUBAI – in January. And unprecedented levels of rain meant even this ended with an underwhelming 7th in-class.
The former 991-class 24H SERIES champion though returned to action with aplomb at Circuit Paul Ricard, besting standings leader DUWO Racing by a massive 26 laps to collect the 991 category win (aided admittedly by the Luxembourg team losing an hour in the pits to a broken tie rod and ABS sensor). This was Porsche Lorient Racing’s first 24H SERIES win since the Hankook 24H COTA USA season finale in 2019, ending the French team’s longest winless streak in the 24H SERIES in the process.
Victory in 2021 also means that Porsche Lorient Racing now has only two winless seasons in the 24H SERIES. The latest, understandably, was its part campaign in 2020, and the first was the team’s maiden outing in 2015, where the team finished 2nd twice at Mugello and Brno.
Prior to 2021, SEAT Sport’s record at CREVENTIC events at Circuit Paul Ricard was impressive. Seat León Cup Racers locked out the TCR podium at the Hankook 24H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD in 2016 (not surprising, given that all the entrants were SEATs), and the Spanish marque took victory once again a year later with Modena Motorsports. Even the TCR-formative A3T class had two SEATs on the podium – NKPP Racing and Memac Ogilvy Duel Racing – in 2015.
2021 though was the first time that SEAT née CUPRA not only didn’t win the class at Paul Ricard but failed to finish on the podium. The highest-placed example was Tictap Totcar Sport’s CUPRA TCR in 4th behind the Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing Volkswagens and the AC Motorsport Audi RS 3 LMS. In a double whammy, the only retirements in the TCR class were RC2 Junior Team by Cabra Racing’s CUPRA Leon Competición TCR and Red Camel-Jordans.nl’s CUPRA TCR.
That a broken bearing denied AC Motorsport its second TCR win in the 24H SERIES at Circuit Paul Ricard just two hours from home was all the more galling given how commanding their performance had been up to that point. An eventual 3rd in-class at least guaranteed AC Motorsport some return for their outstanding effort, but losing victory to championship rivals Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing must have stung. Not least because, the last time AC Motorsport lost a near-certain win in the 24H SERIES, the Swiss team was the beneficiaries on that occasion too.
At the 2019 Hankook 24H DUBAI, tyre pickup from the Audi RS 3’s left rear wheel arch was ignited on the hot exhaust, sending plumes of acrid smoke into the cockpit and forcing Tom Boonen to drive back to the pits whilst leaning out of the driver’s side door! Not only did the incident lose AC Motorsport its one-lap lead with just over four hours to go, it also dropped the Belgian team off the TCR podium altogether. A debuting Autorama Motorsport meanwhile – Stefan Tanner’s former Stanco&Tanner Motorsport now aligned with Adrian Wolf’s Wolf Power Racing – came through to take a memorable Dubai win on the collaboration’s maiden endurance outing.
AC Motorsport would at least get their revenge one year later when the #188 was emerged victorious at the rain-shortened 2020 Hankook 24H DUBAI.
For 2020, and in a bid to increase competition in the TCE division, CREVENTIC combined the SP3, A3 and CUP1 categories to create the all-encompassing ‘TCX’ class. To great effect, it must be said, as the class produced six different winners in as many races.
Team ACP - Tangerine Associates got the ball rolling in Dubai ’20, and was then followed by Autorama Motorsport (Monza, ’20), DayVTec Engineering (Hockenheim, ’20), Nordschleife Racing (Mugello, ’20), PK Carsport (Dubai, ’21) and Speed Lover (Mugello, ’21). Nordschleife Racing thus became the category’s first repeat winner at the 2021 Hankook 12H CIRCUIT PAUL RICARD.
- Words – James Gent
- Images – Petr Frýba and Eric Teeken