Though the German team was denied victory late in the day at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, Leipert Motorsport, Jean-Francois Brunot and Kerong Li have strengthened their respective leads in the European standings and the Championship of the Continents.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba / Leipert Motorsport
Leipert Motorsport has moved to the top of the GTX Teams’ standings in both the European title chase and the Championship of the Continents, despite a frustrating end to the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING.
The German team, which finished 3rd overall at last year’s event, came into this year’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING two points ahead of GTX rival Vortex V8 in the Championship of the Continents, but trailing fellow Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo runner RD Signs – Siauliai racing team in the European standings. Issues for both Vortex and RD Signs though means Leipert Motorsport, which finished on the podium at its home event despite late-race drama, is now at the head of both championship standings.
Leipert got its weekend off to a strong start with pole in GTX and 4th on the overall grid after strong runs from Jean-Francois Brunot, Kerong Li and Tim Müller in their respective 15-minute qualifying sessions: Müller set the fastest GTX time in Q2, while Li missed the category top spot by just 0.019s in Q1.
Leipert’s form continued into the race, Müller leading the RD Signs Lamborghini heading into the second hour with series newcomer E2P Racing in 3rd. Having made contact with the Lestrup Racing Team Volkswagen early on, championship rival had already lost more than 90 minutes to repairs in the opening stages, the Vortex 1.0 losing further time to gearbox gremlins and a beached moment in the gravel.
The race began to slowly unravel shortly heading into the overnight intervention, however. With RD Signs having already retaken the GTX class lead, debris on-track managed to hole the Leipert Lamborghini’s radiator during Müller’s opening stint on Sunday. This, plus heavier than expected brake wear, severely restricted the Huracan’s pace, the V10’s temperature continuing to spike throughout the afternoon.
A reprieve seemingly arrived just two hours from home when RD Signs, which by now had pulled three laps clear, was pulled into the garage with terminal gearbox issues, handing the lead to Leipert. Sadly, with just 20 minutes to go, Kerong Li was pulled into the garage to refill the Lamborghini’s coolant while Leipert mechanics simultaneously tried to remove an air lock from the system. This nine-minute delay on pitroad thus allowed the E2P Racing Porsche, which had been running eight laps behind, to sail through and take the GTX win at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING almost within sight of the flag.
Despite the frustrating near-miss, Leipert Motorsport managing directors Marcel Leipert & Marc Poos believe positives can still be taken from the Hockenheim weekend, given the championship implications.
“The drivers put in a strong performance and the car worked solidly. It was bitter to lose an almost certain class win so close to the end. It was just bad luck that a stone damaged the radiator. At least we still managed to finish, unfortunately not in the position we had hoped for. However, we are happy to start the race in Portimao as championship leader in the GTX class and to defend our position there.”
2nd in-class at Hockenheim means Leipert Motorsport now holds a six-point advantage over Vortex V8 heading into the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO on 9-10-11 July. Interestingly, with Leipert and RD Signs having both scored a 2nd and 3rd place finish so far this year – Leipert recovered to finish 3rd at Spa after RD Signs crashed out at Eau Rouge, while the Lithuanian team took 2nd at Mugello when Leipert was unable to compete – means both teams now hold 26 points in the European standings. Having competed with HRT Performance in Mugello though, Jean-Francois Brunot and Kerong Li now have 44 points in the GTX Drivers’ standings.
Fresh from its win in Hockenheim, points for which were allocated to the Spanish team’s 991 Teams’ total, E2P Racing now leads the 991 class European standings ahead of Van Berlo Motorsport by Bas Koeten Racing.