In TCE, Autorama Motorsport began a fruitful maiden season with Wolf-Power Racing, one that would produce two division championships. On top of that, TCE saw strong performances from Bas Koeten Racing, Red Camel-Jordans.nl, and a brave end to the season for AC Motorsport, while Synchro Motorsport showed its formidable chops in A3. Here, we run through the races, one-by-one.
The relationship between Autorama Motorsport and Wolf-Power Racing (#112) got off to a strong start in Dubai with a win in the TCE division. But don’t let the team’s subsequent strong season thereafter fool you into thinking this was a walkover for the Swiss team. Ironically, TCE looked to be the race nobody wanted to win in Dubai.
Team Dynamics with WRC Developments (#138), a subsidiary of the successful British Touring Car Championship, exited the race in dramatic fashion, destroying its front end against the wall just eight hours in. Falling oil pressure and terminal drivetrain problems eventually felled fellow former leader LMS Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#129), while KCMG (#122) suffered a scary incident on-track during the night when fire caught the back of the Honda Civic ‘FK7’ TCR, burning most of the rear end to a crisp.
Arguably the worst luck was reserved for AC Motorsport (#188) though. The Belgian-based Audi RS3, which had started on pole position, was an early contender for victory only to drop back with a broken fuel pump. Solid running through the night meant the Audi was back in the lead come daybreak and had even pulled one lap clear until suspension failure unraveled the team’s hardwork with just four hours to go. The way was clear for Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing, while 5th for AC Motorsport just behind TFT / COGEMO / TLRT (#154) was hardly a just result for the team’s efforts.
2nd went to a well-deserving Bas Koeten Racing (#125). Alongside the retirement of its sister entries, the Audi had at one point been dead last after breaking its shock absorber. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) completed the TCE podium, despite the team’s brand new CUPRA TCR suffering right rear suspension failure inside the first four hours and running out of fuel in the early stages.
Attrition hit SP3 hard during the opening stages, although, sportingly, both Vortex V8 (#301) and CWS Engineering (#378) managed to continue running. The former, running a bespoke Scirocco GC 10, survived rear suspension failure and, later, a heavy impact into the barriers. Luck eventually went the French team’s way though when the CWS Ginetta G55 was collected by the MP Motorsport Mercedes. On top of those lengthy repairs, the British squad also withstood a second trip into the barriers and a front puncture to collect 2nd in-class.
The all-Belgian G & R Motorsport (#603) took A3 victory, though admittedly more eyes were trained on the heritage-liveried Lotuses that finished in 2nd and 3rd. Hindered by gearbox failure during qualifying, PB Racing would later be forced to conduct a seven-hour engine change on the #634 Elise Cups after a severe clout from a GT3 front-runner ruptured the radiator. The sister #633 entry fared little better, spending more than 10 hours in the pits with almost ceaseless gearbox problems. That both took the chequered flag was testament to the team’s efforts.
Brutally, DUWO Racing (#840) was denied a win in CUP1 when an electrical issue sent the BMW M235i Racing Cup into the garage just five hours short of the flag. fun-M Motorsport (#802), itself delayed by 20 minutes during the night, was the welcome recipient.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 545 laps
2. Bas Koeten Racing (#125, CUPRA, TCR) – 541 laps
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – 538 laps
24H SERIES Continents Top 3 (after round 1) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, TCR) – 30 points
2. Bas Koeten Racing (#125, TCR) – 28 points
Vortex V8 (#301, SP3) – 28 points
MONLAU COMPETICION (#109) could quite reasonably look upon the Hankook 12H MUGELLO as a missed opportunity. Having qualified on TCE pole position, and held its lead into the overnight intervention, a spanner in the shape of a driveshaft failure was thrown into the works on Saturday morning, and the all-Thai #109 entry was forced to hand the lead over to Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112). Unfortunately, despite a renewed charge during the afternoon, heavy broad-side contact with the tyres barriers spelt the end for the #109 CUPRA TCR shortly before mid-distance.
Thus it was that Autorama (#112) dutifully took its second win in succession, and from the third row of the grid no less. Victory was far from a foregone conclusion though as the Swiss Volkswagen Golf GTI only just held the hard-charging, AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (#188) at bay for most of Saturday afternoon. Come the chequered flag, the pair were split by just 26s.
Tension was equally heightened in the Lestrup Racing Team (#110) garage as the returning Swedish outfit sought its second consecutive TCR class podium, following a 3rd place at the 2018 season-closer in COTA. A late-race Code 60 to recover the Car Collection Motorsport Audi (see ‘GT’ review on page xxx) gave the fuel-starved VW some much needed respite over eventual 4th placed Holmgaard Motorsport (#102), another early leader, heading into the final stages.
A trying run for Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101), one replete with rear suspension and gearbox problems, eventually saw the orange CUPRA TCR come home an exhausted 9th. Bonk Motorsport meanwhile (#115) survived a fantastically close call with the NKPP Racing Porsche to collect a solid 7th.
Following the disappointment of Dubai, at which the Porsche failed to even make qualifying after terminal gearbox problems, it was fitting that Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (#312) walked away from its second series entry with the win. Admittedly, slow pitwork early on meant it was Munckhof Racing (#310) that led the way after ‘part one’, though overheating issues in the rising Tuscan temperatures and a lengthy time penalty for inadvertently overtaking under double yellow flags meant the BMW M4 GTR slipped back to 2nd for good after the fifth hour.
One round after its Dubai win, Vortex V8 (#301) was slowed by drivetrain issues and eventually dropped 23 laps back from the SP3 leader. The French team could at least celebrate a second consecutive class podium for the Scirocco GC 10 in 3rd.
Despite an off in Free Practice, Dan Agro Racing (#685) enjoyed a faultless run thereafter to collect its first 24H SERIES win in the A3 class, the Belgian team followed home by the similarly slick WEC Motorsport BMW E46 M3 (#639).
Multiple collisions meanwhile stymied Synchro Motorsport’s (#676) run to 3rd, the most significant of which was a clash that sent the Team Hyundai Denmark i30 N TCR (#130). The latter’s overly ambitious overtake meant the Hyundai’s charge lasted just 32 laps.
Bizarrely, the usually bullet-proof Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869) survived just 159 laps, and was pushed with a box full of neutrals into the garage from which it would not return.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 300 laps
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi, TCR) – +26.792s
3. Lestrup Racing Team (#110, Volkswagen, TCR) – 296 laps
24H SERIES Europe Top 3 (after round 1) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, TCR) – 20 points
2. AC Motorsport (#188, TCR) – 19 points
3. Dan Agro Racing (#685, A3) – 18 points
Amag First Centri Porsche Ticino (#312, SP3) – 18 points
Much like its GT contemporaries, the fight for TCE victory went similarly down to the wire at Spa-Francorchamps.
Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) eventually took the winner’s garlands, having cemented pole position the previous morning. It was far from a clear run for the Dutch team though, the CUPRA falling one lap down on the leaders almost immediately with a rogue puncture and a broken stabilizer. Superb pace early the next morning and some notable on-track passes put Red Camel into the lead in the closing stages, albeit with a late race splash-and-dash to complete.
Whether 2nd-placed Autorama Motorsport by Wolf Power Racing (#112), catching the leader quickly, also needed to stop remained a mystery until the final two laps, the Volkswagen Golf GTI pulling on to pit lane with just two laps to go, much to the relief of the eventual winners. 12th place overall for the TCE winner just showed how hard the division had been pushing at Spa.
The AC Motorsport Audi RS3 LMS (#188) was once again in the wars at Spa. Having been rebuilt in its entirety overnight after a heavy shunt during Thursday’s private test session, the Audi RS3, incredibly, started on the TCE front row behind the Red Camel CUPRA and even went into the overnight intervention in the lead. Sadly the Belgian team’s fairytale result didn’t come to pass at home, the Audi unable to keep pace with the leaders and ultimately dropping to the final step of the podium. Still, 3rd overall at a race the team hadn’t expected to start was no mean feat!
Holmgaard Motorsport (#102) was another team among the front-runners in the early going, and was one of only four TCR cars on the lead lap after the intervention. Gearbox failure though cost the team 2.5 hours in the garage and any hope of its maiden podium. Still, 4th in-class in Mugello, 6th in Spa, and 6th in Barcelona proved consistent enough to secure brothers Jonas and Magnus Holmgaard the TCE Junior Cup title come season’s end.
4th overall in TCE, ahead of the Lithuanian IGORIO LANKAI CUPRA (#132), eventually went to PROsport Performance (#1), which collected its first 24H SERIES class win with the brand new Aston Martin Vantage GT4 after a solid run. CWS Engineering (#378) suffered another difficult weekend, the Ginetta G55 spending a few moments on fire thanks to tyre pick-up in the rear wheel arch, and later pulled into the garage for a full gearbox replacement. Still, a second consecutive 2nd in-class was just reward for the team’s efforts.
Another excellent run for Dan Agro Racing saw the team’s two Peugeot RCZs survive a high-speed nudge of the tyres at Raidillon (#685), suspected rear axle issues (#686), and an overheating engine (also #686) to claim the two top spots in ‘A3’, and an impressive 7th and 8th overall in TCE. Admittedly, victory had looked set for Synchro Motorsport (#676) early doors before boost pressure issues and a broken driveshaft dropped the Honda Civic Type-R to 3rd.
Although well out of contention, BMW Team van der Horst (#602) was nevertheless applauded for its efforts. The Dutch team saw no track action at all on Friday after the BMW E90 330i suffered gearbox failure, but had a brand new M3 transported from its HQ in Dusseldorf in order to take the chequered flag on Saturday.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – 232 laps
2. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 231 laps
3. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi, TCR) – 230 laps
24H SERIES Europe Top 3 (after round 2) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, TCR) – 37 points
2. Dan Agro Racing (#685, A3) – 36 points
3. AC Motorsport (#188, TCR) – 35 points
Back on form after a tough race at Spa, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) took its third win of the season in Brno, though the Swiss-based Volkswagen had to work hard for its garlands.
Spa winner Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) was an early force to be reckoned with, although father-son duo Ivo and Rik Breukers – teaming for the first time with Rik’s younger brother, Luc – could do little to avoid destroying their tyres on the Automotodrom Brno’s abrasive surface. Early race leading pace was slashed by almost eight second per lap, and having lost further time to a handling concerns, the CUPRA had to eventually settle for 3rd, albeit just eight seconds adrift of the always mercurial NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175), which took its first podium of the 24H SERIES season in 2nd.
Another early contender for victory, Team ABBA Racing (#334) leapfrogged into the lead during the opening stages, the BMW M3 V8 GTR – a former winner of the Hankook 24H SILVERSTONE – and had pulled comfortably clear of the pack before overheating. A melted sensor meant the BMW refused to go into gear at its first pit stop, and the M3 would later be plagued by driveshaft failure, broken suspension mounts and a collapsed steering arm. Contact with the Herberth Motorsport Porsche added insult to continued injury, and Team ABBA Racing finally parked itself (against the barriers) for good on Saturday afternoon. A default ‘SP3’ class win offered little consolation.
With AC Motorsport (#188) ending its afternoon in the gravel trap on the very final lap, 4th overall instead went to Lestrup Racing (#110), the Swedish team having run the leaders hard throughout the weekend. Former TCR-class champion MONLAU COMPETICION (#107) was in the mix for the lead from the get-go before it too started eating its tyres. Time lost to speeding in the pit lane and following a trip through the gravel meant the front-running CUPRA had to settle for 6th overall.
Few TCR outfits could boast the problems of Team Hyundai Denmark though (#130). The i30 N was on the back foot early on Friday afternoon after suffering right rear suspension failure. Troubles were further compounded by overheating problems and a bizarre incident when the i30 N speared into the gravel at turn three, seemingly without power steering. The result was a hard-fought 8th in TCR, just behind TTC Racing (#103).
Synchro Motorsport (#676) finally put a streak of bad luck behind it by taking its first ‘A3’ class win of the season with the Honda Civic Type-R, despite heavier than expected tyre wear and a broken driveshaft repaired in record time. The result moved the former 24H TCE SERIES champion into the lead of the A3-class 24H SERIES Europe title chase.
Behind Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869) on its return to the A3 category, 3rd in-class went to a deserving Winkler Tuning (#666). The only diesel-powered car in the field completed just three laps before the overnight intervention after suffering colossal engine failure. Smooth running on the Saturday though following an all-night repair meant the BMW E46 123D completed enough laps to be awarded the final podium spot.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 295 laps
2. NKPP Racing by Bas Koeten Racing (#175, CUPRA, TCR) – 294 laps
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – +8.234s
24H SERIES Europe Top 3 (after round 3) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, TCR) – 56 points
2. AC Motorsport (#188, TCR) – 47 points
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – 44 points
Odds favoured TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing (#131) to take TCE victory as the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO entered its second half. Having roared into the lead from the second row, the CUPRA TCR had dominated the opening 12 hours, and had already amassed a four-lap lead over the pursuing pack. It was a performance ended, brutally, by a trip through the gravel to avoid a stationary Porsche on the racing line, the high-speed contact rupturing the CUPRA’s radiator and frying the engine. Just like that, TOPCAR was out.
Following another consistent run, Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) was the beneficiary, and having already pulled a 10-lap advantage over its nearest rivals, summarily waltzed to the chequered flag to collect its fourth win in five starts, placing one hand on the TCE European championship in the process.
Having qualified on pole position, 2nd was still a solid result for AC Motorsport (#188), given the issues the Audi RS3 LMS had to overcome in Portimão. After receiving a love tap from the GPX Racing Porsche early on, being instructed to repair the resultant hanging bodywork, and struggling with overheating tyres, the Belgian team’s afternoon went further off the rails when the front right tyre parted company from the rim. Quick thinking from Sam Dejonghe meant the Audi was able to continue and collect a hard-earned podium.
Nordschleife Racing (#172) was not so fortunate. The French team – a former TCE champion under its original ‘Team Altran Peugeot’ name – went into the second half of the event propping up the TCR field courtesy of a beached moment in the gravel, but had moved its way consistently back into the top three come the final hour. Then all hell broke loose: fuel pump failure ground the Peugeot 308 Racing Cup to a halt with just 10 minutes left on the clock. A rapid turnaround meant Nordschleife, briefly, kept 3rd in TCE only for the same problem to strike a few laps later. With no time left to repair the issue, 3rd in the TCR class was confirmed, but the final overall podium step was gone.
That instead went to Synchro Motorsport (#676), and with barely five minutes left on the clock to rub salt further into the wound. In doing so, the Honda secured its second A3-class win on the bounce, despite concerns for engine and brake temperatures, and a couple of broken front struts. Even clumps of tyre pick-up had removed most of the Honda’s rear bumper…
3rd overall in TCE was not only a well-deserved accolade for the former TCE Team’s champion, it also marked the first time that an A3 car finished on the overall TCE podium since the division’s introduction for 2016. So excited was team principal Alyn James with the news that he inadvertently tapped the overall GT leader heading into turn one!
A broken turbocharger for Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869), and the resultant 4.5 hours required to fit the replacement, meant all hope of an A3 class win for the BMW was quickly out the window, though the Swiss/German team did “run like clockwork” thereafter to secure 2nd in-class, albeit 156 laps adrift.
Further back, potential podium contention for Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) came to a close when the CUPRA TCR suffered brake failure at the end of the start-finish straight at three-quarter distance. Save a couple of bruises, Klaus Kresnik mercifully emerged unscathed, but the CUPRA’s race was run.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 641 laps
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi, TCR) – 622 laps
3. Synchro Motorsport (#676, Honda, A3) – 609 laps
24H SERIES Europe Top 3 (after round 4) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 84 points
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi, TCR) – 69 points
3. Synchro Motorsport (#676, Honda, A3) – 68 points
24H SERIES Continents Top 3 (after round 2) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen, TCR) – 58 points
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi, TCR) – 44 points
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA, TCR) – 36 points
TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing (#131) put the disappointment of Portimão behind it in decisive fashion with TCE victory in Barcelona. The CUPRA TCR quickly rose from 5th on the grid to be running 3rd after one hour, 1st after two hours, and led uninterrupted from the fourth hour onwards, consistency both in the pits and on the track netting Bas Koeten Racing its first win of the season. So impressive was the run in fact that the TCE winner finished ahead of all GT4 and 991 entrants at Barcelona.
Baporo Motorsport (#135) enjoyed a successful return to the Hankook 24H BARCELONA by replicating the 2nd place it secured at the 2018 edition, while Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112) finished an understated 3rd. Ironically, the team’s ‘worst’ result of the year was still enough to secure the 24H SERIES Europe Overall TCE Teams’ championship, as well as the drivers’ crown for Yanniuck Mettler.
A well-deserved 4th looked set to go the way of Holmgaard Motorsport (#102), until, with just 45 minutes to go, front suspension failure sent the Volkswagen Golf GTI into the gravel at high speed, dropping Kim Holmgaard’s eponymous team to 6th at the flag. 4th instead went to TTC Racing (#103), despite the only SEAT in the field battling higher-than-expected tyre wear and a last-minute back injury that reduced its driver line-up from four to three.
Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101) ended its race against the wall for the second event in a row, the impact causing the tyre barriers to domino themselves into the gravel, a situation that took almost an hour to remedy. Nordschleife Racing (#172) similarly struggled to shake off the bad luck of Portimão, contact with the Hofor Racing Mercedes causing almost four hours-worth of repairs, dropping the Peugeot to 9th.
Further back, SP3 seemed to be the class nobody wanted to win. Early, commanding leader RTR Projects (#224) had pulled several laps clear during the opening stages, only to be turfed into the gravel by “one of the Porsche Cup cars”. Repairs to the radiator took nearly an hour, allowing both Perfection Racing Europe (#345) and PR&V (#302) to move ahead. Ironically, the latter would also fall foul of an on-track clash – the broken steering rack from which marked the end of the Porsche’s race – while the former lost time to a broken rear track rod and a wheel that parted company from its mountings. An unlikely, though deserved win, thus came back to the KTM X-BOW ahead of the Perfection Racing Ginetta and the Munckhof Racing BMW (#310).
Given its high profile exit from the race in 2018, and its recent run of momentum, Synchro Motorsport (#676) looked set for a fairy-tale third A3 win on the bounce in Barcelona, and an outside shot of the TCE title. All that came unglued though when the ‘FK8’ Civic required both an engine and a gearbox change before half-distance, dropping the Honda to 2nd behind the recovering Hofor-Racing Motorsport (#869). The win, the German team’s first of the season in ‘A3’, also netted the BMW M240i Racing Cup the CUP1 title.
AC Motorsport meanwhile (#188) finished 8th overall in TCE following a bizarre incident in the pit lane during Night Practice. Waiting for his stint in the Audi, Stéphane Perrin was inadvertently clipped by the GPX Racing Porsche, leaving the Belgian with a broken sternum. In heroic fashion, the Belgian was back behind the wheel just over a month later at the TCR SPA 500.
Overall Top 3 (TCE)
1. TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, CUPRA) - 637 laps
2. Baporo Motorsport (#135, CUPRA) - 627 laps
3. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) - 625 laps
24H SERIES Europe Top 3 – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) - 93 points
2. Synchro Motorsport (#676, Honda) - 79 points
3. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi) - 73 points
24H SERIES Continents Top 3 (after round 3) – TCE
1. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen) - 58 points
2. AC Motorsport (#188, Audi) - 44 points
3. Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101, CUPRA) - 36 points