· Barwell Motorsport (#77) denies Herberth in nail-biter
· Bohemia Energy with Scuderia Praha (#11) seals 24H GT SERIES Europe crown
· Flawless run for RTR Projects and new KTM X-BOW GTX (#224)
· Ligier JS2 R makes its 24-hour debut
Much as it had done at Spa, a scintillating race for the win went down to the wire, as a returning Barwell Motorsport (#77) and Herberth Motorsport (#91) were split by just over 10 seconds at the flag. There could truly have been no better way to sign off the season than a 19-hour duel for victory, Herberth Motorsport once again denied by the sheer pace of the day-glow Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo.
Ironically, the pole sitting Barwell Motorsport faced its stiffest competition from Herberth’s sister #93 991 GT3 R in the opening stages, though the Bavarian entrant began to slip back during the night. While it couldn’t quite hold on to the overall podium, 4th overall, plus its second A6-Am class win and a class title in the 24H SERIES Europe was just reward for a superb year-long effort. 3rd meanwhile went to GPX Racing (#24).
An inter-team dual for the final two A6-Am podium spots – 5th and 6th on the road – looked set to go the way of the #88 Car Collection Motorsport Audi, aided by a clumsy overtake by the sister #34 during the night which turfed the 991-class leading Porsche Lorient Racing Cup car (#912) into the gravel and ‘rewarded’ the Audi with a time penalty. A late race pit stop though, plus a stellar final stint for the #34, meant it was the latter that won out over its Dubai-winning counterpart. A tough season for Wochenspiegel Team Monschau (#22) was rewarded with a solid 3rd in-class and 7th place finish.
Ironically, hitherto steamroller Bohemia Energy racing with Scuderia Praha (#11) was barely involved in the fight for victory after turbo issues cost the Czech team almost an hour in the garage during the night. Rounding out the overall top 10, just two places behind championship rival CP Racing (#85), was an understated way to secure the 24H SERIES Europe crown, but that didn’t stop the Czech team from celebrating a spectacular season.
Compounded by a ‘mystery’ technical fault in Dubai, former series champion Hofor-Racing (#10) fared even worse in Brno as chassis damage was discovered shortly before Free Practice for the Hankook 12H BRNO. The Mercedes-AMG was withdrawn before the event had even started. The Swiss team did at least manage to make the chequered flag on its series return at Barcelona – albeit 5th in-class in A6-Am – on what is likely to be the AMG’s last race before its ‘Evo’ replacement arrives for 2020.
Both SPX and SP4 celebrated well-deserved winners in RTR Projects (#224) and Nordschleife Racing (#526), the former running the newly updated X-BOW GTX, the latter the brand new Ligier JS2 R. Only an extended diagnostic check during the night stopped the latter from finishing higher up the order, while a solid run for the former sealed the SPX championship.
A frustrating weekend for Porsche Lorient Racing saw the #912 lose the ‘991’ class win in the closing stages with a trip into the barriers, thus handing victory to Speed Lover (#978). This ironically elevated the sister #911 onto the podium behind Team Webheads (#902), securing the 991-class 24H SERIES Europe championship in the process.
GT4 championship rivals Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#50) and PROsport Performance (#1) were similarly cursed, the former suffering early damage after contact, the latter nursing a collapsed cylinder head gasket, resigning both to 3rd in-class and a DNF behind eventual winner, Orchid Racing Team (#415). Hofor / Bonk could at least celebrate another championship win though.
Celebrations were respectfully muted when news broke of Anthoine Hubert’s tragic accident in the Formula 2 sprint race at Spa-Francorchamps.
· Commanding win for TOPCAR sport (#131)
· Second heavy accident in succession for Red Camel-Jordans.nl (#101)
· RTR Projects (#224) lose win…then gain it back
· Synchro Motorsport (#676) loses win to engine change
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 Yannick 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.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Overall top 5 – GT
1. Barwell Motorsport (#77, Lamborghini) – 690 laps
2. Herberth Motorsport (#91, Porsche) – +10.481s
3. GPX Racing (#24, Porsche) – 682 laps
4. Herberth Motorsport (#93, Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 680 laps
5. Car Collection Motorsport (#34, Audi R8 LMS Evo) – 677 laps
Overall top 5 – TCE
1. TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, CUPRA TCR) – 637 laps
2. Baporo Motorsport (#135, CUPRA TCR) – 627 laps
3. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen Golf GTi) – 625 laps
4. TTC Racing (#103, SEAT Leon TCR) – 615 laps
5. Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing (#112, Volkswagen Golf GTi) – 612 laps
A6-Pro – Barwell Motorsport (#77, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 Evo) – 690 laps
A6-Am – Herberth Motorsport (#93, Porsche 911 GT3 R) – 680 laps
SPX – True Racing (#216, KTM GTX) – 661 laps
991 – Speed Lover (#978, Porsche 991 -II Cup) – 635 laps
SP4 – Nordschleife Racing (#526, Ligier JS2 R) – 510 laps
GT4 – Orchid Racing Team (#415, Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS MR) – 605 laps
TCR – TOPCAR sport with Bas Koeten Racing (#131, CUPRA) – 637 laps
SP3 – RTR Projects (#227, KTM X-BOW) – 590 laps
A3 – Hofor Racing by Bonk Motorsport (#869, BMW M240i Racing Cup) – 579 laps
Fastest lap (GT): 1m 47.378s – Dennis Lind, Car Collection Motorsport (#88, A6-Pro)
Lead changes: 38
Code 60s: 13
Total laps completed by all competitors: 24,487
1. TOPCAR sport by Bas Koeten Racing equaled the highest overall finishing position for a TCR car in a 24H SERIES event.
2. KTM became the only manufacturer to take a class win in FOUR different categories in 2019.
3. Hofor-Racing by Bonk Motorsport now holds an unusual record in the A3 class…
4. Barcelona marked the first outright win for a Lamborghini in the 24H SERIES in six years.
5. Both Scuderia Praha and Autorama Motorsport sealed their respective European championships with their worst result of the season.
6. BMW is now the most successful ‘GT4’ manufacturer since the category was introduced for 2018.