The 21st running of the Hankook 24H BARCELONA did not disappoint, with a nail-biting fight to the finish, championships being secured, and records tumbling throughout the 24-hour epic at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. But did you know…?
1. Herberth Motorsport has now been involved in two of the series’ closest ever finishes. In the same year!
At the end of a hotly contest 2019 Hankook 24H BARCELONA, in which eventual GT winner Barwell Motorsport (#77) and 2nd-placed Herberth Motorsport (#91) were rarely separated by more than a minute on-track, Dennis Lind beat Ralf Bohn to the chequered flag by just 10.481s.
This is the third closest finish in 24H SERIES history. And not even the tightest of the 2019 season.
At round three at Spa-Francorchamps, Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) beat Herberth Motorsport by a scant 7.871s, meaning, unfortunately, the #91 Porsche 911 GT3 R has been on the non-winning side of two of the three closest finishes in the series history. Not a record Robert and Alfred Renauer will wear with pride, we’re guessing…
For those of you who are curious, the closest finish in 24H SERIES history actually came at Mugello in 2014, when AF Corse bested Stadler Motorsport by just 5.417s. Ironically, three races later in Hungary, SPS automotive performance beat Hofor Racing by 36.795s to record the then-second closest finish in 24H SERIES history, a race that has now slipped to fourth in the all-time list.b
2. It’s been a LONG time since a 24H SERIES event has featured anything close to 30 lead changes
Seriously, the fight for the lead at the 2019 Hankook 24H BARCELONA could not have been tighter: of the 690 laps completed, Barwell Motorsport (#77) led 342 of them, Herberth Motorsport (#91), 328, and from lap 144 onwards, the lead was only ever with one of these two teams.
Impressive as that is though, it’s not the true talking point of the race. That would the extraordinary 38 lead changes that took place across the whole 24-hour event. For context, Dubai, THE biggest race on the calendar, featured ‘just’ 16, while the 12-hour, third round at Spa-Francporchamps had 24. To find the last time a 24H SERIES race came close to featuring more than 30 changes for the lead, you have to go back to the 2013 Hankook 24H DUBAI, won by Abu Dhabi by Black Falcon after the top spot switched hands 29 times.
3. 690 completed laps is a new event record…sort of…
By the way, in case you were wondering, those 690 completed laps mark a new event record on the 4.655km Grand Prix layout, the previous best being the 677 laps set at last year’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA by the winning Herberth Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Remember though that the first two showings of Les 24 Horas in 1998 and 1999 took place on the 3.069km National Circuit, meaning the 918-lap total from ’98 is unlikely to ever be beaten.
4. It marked the first outright win for a Lamborghini in the 24H SERIES in six years, and a return to the top step for Russia.
Barcelona saw not only the coronation of a brand new winner in the 24H SERIES’ GT-division but also the return to the top step of a certain Italian manufacturer. Plus, interestingly, two other nationalities.
Barwell Motorsport’s maiden win was the first outright for a British-based team since ROFGO Racing took its own first win in the GT ranks at last year’s Hankook 12H SILVERSTONE. The #77 Huracán GT3 Evo meanwhile secured the first outright win for a Lamborghini since the 2013 Hankook 12H HUNGARY, and only the second overall for the Raging Bull.
On top of that, Leonid Machitski became the first Russian driver to win a 24H SERIES event outright since Nikolay Dmitriev collected a winner’s trophy for NM Racing Team in 2017. Also, bizarrely, at the Hankook 24H BARCELONA.
5. Both Scuderia Praha and Autorama Motorsport sealed their respective championships with their worst result of the season
It goes to show how incredible this year’s 24H SERIES campaign has been for Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) in the TCE division that 3rd in Barcelona marks the team’s ‘worst’ result of the year.
And yet it’s true. The Swiss outfit got its brand new alliance with Wolf Power Racing off to a storming start with TCE victory in the season-opening Hankook 24H DUBAI, following that up with a second just two months later in Mugello. A slight drop in momentum saw the team finish 2nd at Spa-Francorchamps – from the back of the field, no less – before returning to form with two further TCE wins at Brno and Portimão. The final step of the podium in Barcelona may represent a drop in form for the team(!) but was still enough to pit the Overall TCE Teams’ title out of reach.
Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) meanwhile endured a tough race in Catalunya, turbo issues and a bizarre problem with a stuck pedal box meaning the team could finish no higher than 10th overall and only 5th in-class. A unfortunate result in stark contrast to the four straight GT wins the Czech team took from Mugello to Portimão, plus the 3rd place first time out in Dubai.
Underwhelming though it may have been, the result was sufficient to secure the Overall GT Teams’ championship.
6. Porsche Lorient Racing’s #911 entry sealed the 991-class 24H SERIES Europe with its 13th consecutive podium in the 24H SERIES
Who said 13 was an unlucky number?
Porsche Lorient Racing’s #91 991-II Cup may not have won a race this year, but formidable consistency proved more than enough to secure the 24H SERIES stalwart its second consecutive class championship: between them, new ‘991’ Drivers’ champions Jean-François Demorge and Frédéric Ancel, Gilles Blasco, Lionel Amrouche, Pascal Gibon, Mathieu Pontais and Gavin Pickering (phew!) secured FIVE 3rd place finishes in-class, and a 2nd place in Portimão during 2019.
That sort of run shouldn’t be too surprising by now. In fact, you have to go all the way back to the Hankook 12H MUGELLO in 2017 to find the last time the #911 / #64 Porsche did not finish on the podium at a 24H SERIES race for which it had been entered (the team did not compete in Dubai, Potimao or COTA in 2017).
Heading into the season closing Hankook 24H COTA USA, it’s entirely possible the #911 Porsche Lorient Racing 991-II Cup – on top of the standings, just one point clear of MRS GT-Racing – could also secure the ‘991’ class 24H SERIES Continents title with its 14th consecutive category podium. A series record?
7. BMW is now the most successful ‘GT4’ manufacturer since the category was introduced for 2018
PHOENIX RACING and Fox Motorsport got Audi’s tally in the brand new GT4 class off to a great start in 2018, the German marque ending its first year with three wins and an additional 2nd place. BMW equaled its rival’s podium total, albeit with one win, a 2nd place, and two 3rd positions.
Just goes to show you the difference a year can make. Since the end of 2018, BMW has now extended its total to four wins and eight podiums (12 in total) in GT4 with Audi still on four. The meat in the sandwich is now Mercedes-AMG, courtesy of one win and a further seven podiums (eight). Alongside Germany’s big three, Porsche has now taken two wins while Ginetta and KTM have earnt one apiece.
“Wait, hang on, didn’t the PROsport Performance Aston Martin Vantage AMR GT4
take a class win at Spa?” Correct, but while the points earned kept the German team in GT4 championship contention, this win was actually part of a merged line-up with ‘SP3’. Remarkably, despite being a season-long category front-runner, Aston Martin has yet to win a race in ‘GT4’ in the 24H SERIES.
8. TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing equaled the highest overall finishing position for a TCR car in a 24H SERIES event*
An impressive run for TOPCAR sport saw the Swiss team secure the top step of the TCE podium on its maiden series outing. A run aided, in no small part, by the typically metronomic pitwork by Bas Koeten Racing.
So impressive was the pace in fact (and yes, okay, thanks to some well-placed attrition in the GT ranks) that the #135 CUPRA TCR fell just 16 laps short of finishing in the overall top 10. That’s a mighty achievement, and also equals the 11th place the Dutch outfit – together with LMS Racing – secured at last year’s Hankook 24H COTA USA in Austin, Texas. Bas Koeten’s previous visit to the winners’ circle, incidentally.
Fun fact, the team’s flawless run meant TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing completed more laps (637) in 2019 than outright winners Hofor Racing (#10) managed in 2013 (605).
*For obvious reasons, we are not including the stand-alone 2017 24H TCE SERIES season, nor the TCE-dedicated Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE of 2018.
9. KTM is the only manufacturer to take a class win in FOUR different categories in 2019
Well, you certainly can’t say that the KTM X-BOW doesn’t have range, given that True Racing’s class win with the new pre-production ‘GTX’ in SPX was not only the fourth for KTM in this year’s 24H SERIES, but also the fourth in as many categories.
RTR Projects (#224) got the ball rolling with SP2 class victory in Mugello, following this up two rounds later with a GT4 win at Spa-Francorchamps. The Czech team completed its hat trick at Barcelona in SP3 in the TCE division, the same weekend True-Racing (#216) took a maiden win for the KTM GTX in SPX.
On that note, care to guess the last time two KTMs, entered by two different teams in two different divisions, both won their respective categories during the same 24H SERIES weekend…? Exactly.
10. Munckhof Racing is only the sixth team to take a second TCE pole position since the 24H TCE SERIES was introduced.
Amazing as it may seen, given the 25 official rounds of the 24H TCE SERIES there has been since the start of 2016, only six teams have started on the TCE pole position more than once.
Italian team Nova Race was the first, the Ginetta G55 leading the field away at both Mugello and Paul Ricard in 2016. That year, Team Bleekemolen took its first TCE pole position at Silverstone, repeating the feat two years later at the same event.
In 2017, MONLAU COMPETICION started the Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE from pole position, that year’s TCR-class champion also setting the fastest lap in TCE qualifying for the next round at Magny-Cours, although the team would have to wait until this year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO before claiming its third. Interestingly, in 2019, CWS also took its third 24H TCE SERIES pole position, at Dubai, the British-based Ginetta G55 having already started from the front at Misano in 2017 and Barcelona in 2018.
In 2019, Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) took back-to-back poles at Spa-Francorchamps and Brno. Finally, we have Munckhof Racing (#310), the BMW M4 GTR having taken its second TCE pole last time out at Barcelona, one year after its first at Spa in 2018.
11. Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport holds an unusual record in the A3 class…
In Barcelona, Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869) secured its first A3-class victory of the year, securing the CUP1 title in the process. The result also continued Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport’s run as the only multi-national team/driver line-up to take A3 class victory since the end of 2016.
Yep, this is exceptionally random even for us, so let’s break this one down.
Scroll back to the 24H TCE SERIES in 2016, and British team RKC/TGM took the honours at Brno ’16 with the all-English line-up of Ricky Coomber, Thomas and William Gannon, David Drinkwater and James Kaye. Fellow all-British squad Sychro Motorsport (#676) added to its ‘A3’ tally at Silverstone and Barcelona in 2017 and Spa-Francorchamps in 2018, while Brno ’19 victors Alyn James and Daniel Wheeler were joined on the top step of the Portimao ’19 podium by fellow Briton, Matt Neal.
Belgian team QSR Racingschool took the A3 win at Misano ‘18 with countrymen Jimmy de Breucker, Mario Timmers, Rodrigue Gillion and Bart van Haeren, while the aptly named German Wheels was victorious at Spa ‘17 with Michael Luther, Jan C. Kortüm and Bernd Küpper.
Having won the A3 class at Silverstone and Barcelona last year with Michael Fischer and Gustav Engljaehringer (Austrian), Michael Schrey and Bernd Küpper (German), and team principal Martin Kroll (Swiss), and with Axel Burghardt, Volker Piepmeyer and Michael Bonk (German), Fischer (Austrian) and Kroll (Swiss) taking the Barcelona win last time out, Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport remains the only team with a multi-national driver line-up to win an A3 category race in three years.
That was a lot to take in. We’re off for a lie down…