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After its luck-less start to the 2018 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, Herberth Motorsport finally returned to the top step of the podium in Imola, LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing continuing a strong run to take TCE honours. But did you know…?
 
 
1. Back to winning ways for Herberth Motorsport.
 
Given the Bavarian team’s phenomenal runs in Dubai, Austria, France and the United States last year, it beggared belief that Herberth Motorsport (#911) came into this year’s Hankook 12H IMOLA with just 25 points on the board in the GT European Championship, almost half that of the leading Car Collection Motorsport (#34). Such was the team’s run of bad fortune in Dubai, Silverstone and Navarra that its A6-Pro win at the Autodromo Enzo e Dino Ferrari marked the first time the reigning Champions of the Continents had finished a 24H SERIES event on the podium – of any kind – since last November’s Hankook 24H COTA USA.
 
Put another way, in the first four races in 2018 so far, Herberth Motorsport has been at the head of the field for a combined total of 330 laps. That’s 50 less than the 380 the team managed at last year’s Hankook 24H DUBAI alone!
 
 
2. CUPRA takes its first series pole position, win and podium lockout.
 
I guess questioning whether or not CUPRA’s new TCR contender could emulate the highly successful SEAT Leon TCR it replaces [‘On the grid with CUPRA TCR’] is now a moot point: at the Hankook 12H IMOLA – in only its second 24H SERIES event – CUPRA took its first series class win, just one day removed from its first category top spot in qualifying. The win was an emphatic one too, CUPRA locking out the TCR podium as LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#129) finished ahead of the sister NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing CUPRA (#175) and the first of two Modena Motorsports’ entries (#216).
 
The weekend also capped off a remarkable month of May for Bas Koeten Racing [‘Who Am I? Bas Koeten’], the Dutch team having already won the prestigious 24H Nürburgring on its maiden run just a few weeks prior and prepared 14 cars for Red Bull’s annual Caravan Race at Zandvoort. At Imola, Bas Koeten Racing secured its first TCR win since last October’s Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, and its first ever 24H SERIES 1-2 class finish, one-upping the 1-3 LMS Racing also led home last year in Belgium.
 
 
3. Less than 10 points separate the top five teams in BOTH European Championships.
 
With just three rounds of this year’s 2018 European Championship left to run, competition for the overall crowns in both the GT and TCE divisions is heating up nicely.
 
Hofor-Racing’s partnership with Bonk Motorsport is off to a particularly strong start in 2018 with the #131 BMW M235i Racing Cup undefeated in both of its CUP1 outings in Dubai and Imola, and its lone A3 run at Silverstone (psst, check out bullet point number 10). It’s a run that’s vaulted the Swiss team to the top of the TCE class standings, albeit just two points clear of Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE winner Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#303) and Imola’s TCR victor, LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#129) with TCR rivals Holmgaard Motorsport (#102) and NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175) still well within striking distance.
 
Meanwhile, despite starting its Hankook 12H IMOLA with brake failure on the first lap, Car Collection Motorsport’s recovery drive to 3rd in A6-Am means the #34 Audi R8 LMS retains its lead in the GT European Championship standings. However, PROSport Performance’s victory and Forch Racing’s third consecutive outright podium finish mean both the #85 Mercedes-AMG GT3 and #29 Porsche 991 GT3 R lie just ONE point behind, Navarra race winners Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) and the Porsche Lorient Racing duo still well in the hunt heading into the next round at Portimão.

2018 European Championship – GT
  1. Car Collection Motorsport (#34, A6-Am) – 58 points
  2. PROsport Performance (#85, A6-Am) – 57 points
  3. Forch Racing (#29, A6-Pro) – 57 points
  4. Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11, A6-Pro) – 53 points
  5. Porsche Lorient Racing (#65, 991) – 50 points
  6. Porsche Lorient Racing (#64, 991) – 49 points 
2018 European Championship – TCE
  1. Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport (#131, CUP1) – 46 points
  2. LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#129, TCR) – 44 points
  3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#303, TCR) – 44 points
  4. Holmgaard Motorsport (#102, TCR) – 37 points
  5. NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175, TCR) – 37 points

4. Ram Racing’s first outright 24H SERIES pole position in two years.
 
With GRT Grasser Racing Team taking the GT pole position at Dubai and Silverstone, and Hofor-Racing doing likewise in Navarra, it was the turn of Ram Racing (#5) in Imola to take the top spot on the grid, Tom Onslow-Cole’s 1m 42.480s securing the British team’s first outright pole position in the 24H SERIES since the Hankook 12H Zandvoort in May 2016.
 
Interestingly, if you look back at Ram Racing’s record in the 24H SERIES, you’ll find that the British team has only claimed pole position one other time – at Circuit Paul Ricard in 2015 – and started on the front row of a 24H SERIES event on only two other occasions, both, again, in 2015 (Zandvoort and Brno). Given the Merc’s demonstrative pace at Imola though, don’t expect that to be the case for much longer….
 
 
5. A6-Pro has not had a repeat winner yet in 2018.
 
So far in 2018, Black Falcon (Dubai), ROFGO Racing (Silverstone), Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (Navarra) and now Herberth Motorsport (Imola) have taken A6-Pro class wins in the 2018 24H GT SERIES. That’s in stark contrast to last season, when only Scuderia Praha and Herberth Motorsport claimed the A6-Pro top spot.
 
Cross your fingers tight enough, and we might see a repeat of the 2015 season in which all SEVEN rounds of the championship were won by seven different A6 teams.
 
 
6. Scangrip Racing became the 7th different SP3 winner in the 24H TCE SERIES since 2016.
 
Before the #118 BMW E46 Coupé pulled off-track with engine issues, JR Motorsport had looked set to repeat the class victory it took at last year’s Hankook 12H IMOLA. Hours lost on pitroad though meant Scangrip Racing (#786) was the worthy benefactor, making its maiden visit to victory road in the 24H SERIES in the process.
 
In doing so, Scangrip Racing became yet another new winner in a category that has produced so many. In fact, since the inaugural 24H TCE SERIES season in 2016, only CWS Engineering (#178) has claimed more than one SP3/ SP3-GT4 win in TCE, doing so in Magny-Cours in 2017 and Dubai one year later. For the completionists among you, the others were NKPP Racing (Brno, ‘16), Moss Motorsport UK (Silverstone ‘17), Semspeed (Misano, ‘17), NM Racing Team (Barcelona ‘17), Mercedes-AMG Testteam UweAlzen Automotive (Spa-Francorchamps, ’17), and, of course, Scangrip Racing (Imola, ’18).
 
 
7. PROSport Performance scored its first A6-Am win in Imola. But it’s not the team’s best result to-date…
 
You just couldn’t stop PROsport Performance’s winning streak in the 24H SERIES last year, the American-German team taking five of the six 991-class wins up for grabs as well as a stand-alone SP2 class win in Portimão. Only finishing 2nd to Team Black Falcon in the 991-class in Dubai prevented a shutout for the #85 Porsche 991 Cup in 2017.
 
Along with its brand new Mercedes-AMG GT3, the team has now stepped up to the A6 ranks for 2018, and having secured its first A6-Am class podium in Navarra, PROsport Performance went one better in Imola to take its first ever A6-Am class win. Ironically though, in terms of best outright finishing positions, the team’s 3rd place overall in Navarra still stands as its best to-date, engine troubles in the last 30 minutes for the #85 Mercedes of the race dropping the team to 9th overall at the flag.
 
 
8. Ebimotors and Porsche Lorient Racing continued two separate streaks.
 
Carlo and Luca Curti, and Marco Frezza sure know how to get the job done, given that the Italian teammates have walked away with 991-class victory in both of the 24H SERIES events the #73 Porsche 991-I Cup has started this season. In doing so, EBIMOTORS became the first Italian team ever to win back-to-back races in the 24H SERIES powered by Hankook, and did so in Italy no less.
 
Porsche Lorient Racing’s streak meanwhile is equally impressive: not since last year’s Hankook 12H MUGELLO – 14 months ago – has the French team failed to get at least one of its cars onto a class podium during the 24H SERIES events it has started. Discounting last year’s races at Portimão and COTA, plus this year’s season opener in Dubai – none of which the Porsche Lorient Racing team entered – the #64 and #65 Porsche 991-I Cups have taken two class wins and five further class podium spots in either the SP2 or 991 categories. And when you consider just how competitive both of those classes have been during those 14 months, that’s a pretty impressive hit record.
 
 
9. GDL Racing is now the most successful team in SPX in the 24H SERIES.
 
Heading into last weekend’s Hankook 12H IMOLA, GDL Racing and its various national iterations was level-pegging with Leipert Motorsport and Speed Lover as the only repeat winners of the SPX category since its was introduced for the 2015 season. However, victory for the #77 Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo means GDL Racing has now taken three wins in the category, including a home win for GDL Racing Team Middle East in Dubai last year and GDL Team Asia’s success at Mugello in 2016.
 
Bonus fun fact, following GDL Racing’s win on home turf, Grecian Dimitris Deverikos and Argentine Andres Josephsohn represented the 17th and 18th different driver nationalities to finish on the top step of a class podium in the 24H GT SERIES in 2018 thus far.  
 
 
10. Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport created a bizarre 24H TCE tradition in Imola.
 
Following its CUP1 victory in Dubai and a one-off, successful A3 outing at Silverstone, Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport secured its third class win on the trot with another CUP1 victory in Italy. The BMW M235i Racing Cup’s strong start to the season now sees the team head not only the CUP1 and overall TCE Teams’ championship standings, but also the overall TCE Drivers’ standings too.
 
Now, if all that sounds oddly familiar, that might be because QSR Racingschool (#154) did exactly the same thing this time last season. Having conquered the CUP1 class at the 24H TCE season opener in Silverstone in 2017, the Belgian squad – which also entered a BMW M235i Racing Cup – was then victorious on its one-off A3 outing next time out at Magny-Cours before making a triumphant return to CUP1 one round later in Misano, in much the same way that Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport took CUP1, A3 and CUP1 wins in Dubai, Silverstone and Imola respectively. And, in much the same way QSR Racingschool, Jimmy De Breucker, Rodrigue Gillion and Mario Timmers led the Overall Teams’, CUP1, and Overall Drivers’ TCE championship standings last year, Hofor Racing powered bei Bonk Motorsport, Gustav Engljähringer, Michael Fischer, Martin Kroll, Bernd Küpper and Michael Schrey do so in 2018.
 
And yes, before you ask, after the first three rounds of TCE competition, both teams had/have scored 74 points…
 
 
FULL results from the 2018 Hankook 12H IMOLA can be HERE, and you can also check out our in-depth race reports HERE and HERE. Also, don’t forget to let us know what you think of this list via our Twitter account [LINK] and Facebook page [LINK]
 
*Words by James Gent


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