Lithuania’s GSR Motorsport suffers suspension and wheel damage at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, an event at which the Lithuanian team was hoping to emulate its previous podium finish in 2021.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
GSR Motorsport had to contend with both wheel bearing failure and front axle damage at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, an event at which the Lithuanian team was hoping to compete for its second consecutive TCR class podium in the 24H SERIES.
Ernesta Globytė, Rokas Kvedaras and Mindaugas Liatukas finished runner-up to Holmgaard Motorsport last month at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps, and in 2021, finished 3rd in-class at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING behind an incredibly tight scrap for victory between Autorama Motorsport by Wolf-Power Racing and AC Motorsport.
GSR looked set for another strong weekend when Globytė, Kvedaras and Liatukas set the fifth fastest times in their respective qualifying sessions, the trio retaining their top five position in-class in the opening stages, albeit three laps down owing to a multitude of early Code 60s and TCR’s mixed pit strategies.
The first major issue of the weekend struck just after three hours though when Globytė ground to a halt at turn three, just eight laps into her first stint, when a wheel bearing on the Volkswagen’s front left corner having collapsed on-track. Marshalls at the scene were forced to remove the wheel to get the Golf GTI onto the low-loader for recovery.
While earlier issues for Wolf-Power Racing meant GSR lost just one place in-class, a 25-minute pit stop affecting repairs dropped the Volkswagen 24 laps behind heading into the overnight intervention.
Issues continued to plague the #105 Volkswagen on Sunday. As Lithuania’s 15min.lt confirmed, Kvedaras toured back to the pits during his first stint with what appeared to be a rear-left puncture, later confirmed to be a broken suspension mount. Having returned to the track after another 25-minute pit stop, Kvedaras came to a halt at turn one after four laps, the broken suspension having caused more damage to the rear axle than expected. Speaking with radiolemans.com’s Chris Dawes at the time, Kvedaras explained that running wide over the kerbs at turn one earlier in the event had caused more damage than anticipated:
“It might be that we were too aggressive at the first corner because all the problems are on the left side. So, we are sliding too much and there is this water drain which is having quite a big impact on the chassis of the car and all the other components. It seems maybe those impacts [at turn one] have affected many components on the chassis. We changed the nuts that were broken and now something with the [axle] in the front happened now. But the guys are very professional, we have a lot of spare parts, and they are able to repair it. So now we’ll be driving to get more and more experience!”
Though the Lithuanian team eventually made the finish following an 80-minute pit stop, the Volkswagen did so 82 laps behind. Only a late-race retirement for TCX leader Xwift Racing allowed Globytė, Kvedaras and Liatukas to recover to 6th overall in TCE in the final hour.
Ironically, despite its issues, an early retirement for Wolf-Power Racing means GSR Motorsport is now 3rd in the TCR Teams’ European Championship standings heading into the next round of the 24H SERIES season – the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO – at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve on 8-9-10 July.