As well as celebrating a 992-class podium at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, championship contender Red Ant Racing was left frustrated after a late-retirement for its #903 Porsche 992 GT3 Cup.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Red Ant Racing team owner Bert Redant has expressed “mixed feelings” following last weekend’s Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, at which the Belgian team got one of its two entered Porsche 992 GT3 Cups onto the class podium while the other retired almost in sight of the chequered flag.
Red Ant Racing had been on course to take 2nd and 3rd in the 992 category, with Redant father-sons trio Bert, Ayrton and Yannick even challenging eventual winner Red Camel-Jordans.nl for victory when a puncture for the Dutch outfit caused one of its laps to be disallowed, closing the gap between the two.
The #903 Red Ant Porsche however was eventually forced to retire from the event when a driveshaft failed with barely two hours left to run. The result means Red Camel-Jordans.nl, with which Red Ant Racing came into the 12-hour event in Germany level on points in the 992 Teams’ European standings, has now pulled seven points ahead of Red Ant’s #903 Porsche heading into the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO on 9-10-11 July.
Though frustrated by the retirement, Bert Redant was nevertheless quick to praise “each individual team member” for their collective efforts at the Hockenheimring.
“At the end of the first half, we noticed grease on one rim of our car," the Red Ant team manager explained to Belgium’s Autosport Wereld. “That came from a ‘gimbal’ and it is that part that gave way about two hours from the end. Until then, we had fought for the victory, and I think we could have done it too. Considering we’d already covered more than 50 per cent of the [race] distance, and the pits looking certain, and we ended up retiring the car."
Ironically, qualifying for the #903 Porsche couldn’t have gone much better at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, Aryton Redant securing the fastest time in his respective 15-minute session, which, when combined with the second quickest runs from Bert and Yannick, meant the #903 992 lined up on class pole position and an impressive 5th overall on the grid. Having been caught out by a late Code 60 caution period during qualifying, Philippe Wils, six-time Tour de France stage winner Tom Boonen, and Formula E test and reserve driver Sam Dejonghe in the sister #904 lined up 4th in-class, seven places further back on the overall grid.
“Qualifying went really well,” Bert Redant continued, “and we surprised ourselves with our result! It also gave the team a boost to do even better, and I would therefore also like to thank each individual team member for the efforts of the past few months.”
As opposed to nearest rival Red Camel, Red Ant Racing opted against pitting during the opening day’s Code 60 caution periods, instead sticking to the pre-race pit stop strategy that also helped the team secure class victory in both Mugello and at Spa-Francorchamps. Indeed, having maintained track position during the first purple flag period, the #904 at one stage ran 3rd for several tours, even leading the event outright for a lap. Though Red Camel would eventually pull one lap clear heading into the overnight intervention, the Red Ant duo remained in close quarters in 2nd and 3rd, only a brake-less moment for Bert Redant heading into the stadium section, and, later, a left-rear puncture dropping the #903 behind the #904.
Red Ant’s victory hopes were strengthened early on Sunday afternoon when Red Camel was handed a one-lap penalty for gaining an advantage off-track, Rik Breukers having cut the final chicane on his way back to the pits with a punctured tyre (the Dutch team would later contest this penalty). Said hopes for the #903 entry though, which by now had moved back ahead of the sister #904 Porsche, came to naught just after three-quarter distance when the driveshaft failed. Unable to affect a repair in the time remaining, the #903 was retired from the event, the points loss simultaneously dropping Bert, Aryton and Yannick Redant behind Ivo, Rik and Luc Breukers in the 992 Drivers’ European standings.
Red Ant Racing could at least celebrate 2nd in-class for Wils, Boonen and Dejonghe and the first podium of the European season so far this year for the sister Porsche. Coupled with a 2nd in-class in Dubai, the result means the #904 is now just three points adrift in the 992 Teams’ Championship of the Continents.