Car Collection Motorsport secures a hard-earned 3rd in GT3-AM at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS, while three-time European Rallycross champion Andreas Bakkerud finished top five in-class on his 24H SERIES debut in the sister Audi R8 LMS GT4.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba / Lionspeed GP
Three-time European Rallycross champion Andreas Bakkerud completed a solid run at the Hankook 12H SPA-FRANCORCHAMPS with Lionspeed Car Collection Motorsport to secure 5th in-class on his 24H SERIES debut, despite an overheated engine delaying proceedings during the second half of the event.
Bakkerud lined up for his 24H SERIES debut alongside José Garcia and Patrick Kolb in the Lionspeed GP-supported Car Collection Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT4 at Spa marking the first time the ’11, ’12 and ‘21 European Rallycross champion – and multi-time World Rallycross event winner – competed in a 12-hour endurance event. The entry also marked the first time Car Collection ran its GT4-spec Audi R8 in the 24H SERIES since last year’s Hankook 24H SEBRING season finale. Garcia and Kolb also competed on that occasion alongside Jörg Viebahn and Patric Niederhauser.
Having lined up 6th in-class on the grid, Kolb, who set the third quickest time during his 10-minute qualifying session, had pulled the #499 Audi up to 3rd in-class after the first two hours, Bakkerud thereafter during an impressive 29-lap double stint even pushing the R8 LMS GT4 into 2nd in-class behind the ALFAB Racing McLaren 570S GT4. Consistent running, albeit hindered by some unfortunately timed Code 60s, meant the #499 Audi was still 5th in-class heading into the overnight intervention.
Overheating issues though the following morning – noted only as a “defect” in the team’s official post-race update – would cost Bakkerud, Garcia and Kolb more than 40 minutes in the garage, the #499 dropping 15 laps behind the class leader and to 6th in-class by the time Bakkerud brought the R8 back onto the track. Late turbocharger failure for the ALFAB Racing McLaren eventually promoted Car Collection back to 5th in GT4 at the flag.
Though disappointed by the delay, Andreas Bakkerud was upbeat nevertheless about his 24H SERIES debut at Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps and his pace aboard the Audi in his 12-hour endurance racing debut.
“Had the most awesome time with Lionspeed GP this weekend when I got the full-on endurance race experience!” the Norwegian explained on his official Facebook page. “I had a great day racing the first of two parts of the 12-hour race here at Spa. I’ve done so many different types of motorsport, and I really got to experience the full thing with endurance racing in my 29 lap stint [on Saturday]. There’s so many cars on track at the same time, but I think I managed both speedways and also racecraft.
“The result wasn’t great due to some technical issues, but I’ve had at least six hours of seat time [across those] three days which was awesome! Thanks Lionspeed GP for the experience!”
Across in the sister #34 Audi R8 LMS GT3, team staple Johannes Dr. Kirchhoff and former GT Junior Cup winner Max Edelhoff were joined by Tim Müller, outright winner of the 2020 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, for round three of this year’s European championship. After qualifying on the third row of the grid, Edelhoff made a strong start to the event, initially climbing to 4th in the early going before leapfrogging into 2nd and, later on, the overall lead, thanks to some perfectly-timed and rapid pitwork by the Car Collection crew. The #34 Audi even went on to lead 11 laps of the event outright during the first half. Dropping back with an opposing pit stop strategy to its nearest rivals, the #34 Audi nevertheless went into the overnight intervention 4th overall and just one lap adrift of the leaders.
Müller could not quite regain the lost lap during his opening stint the following morning, despite a phenomenal effort, but significant time was lost shortly during his opening double stint on Sunday when the Audi’s right rear tyre delaminated on the Kemmel Straight, destroying much of the R8’s right rear bodywork in the process (amazingly, neither the suspension nor the undertray were damaged). Time lost to a second puncture meant the #34 Audi went into the final hour 5th overall, only for further time to be lost when a third puncture – rear left this time – caught Müller out again, this time on the approach to Raidillon, the Audi briefly spinning to a halt on the crest of the hill. Despite losing ground on-track to the JUTA Racing Audi, Car Collection was nevertheless able to recover and seal a hard-earned 6th overall at the flag and 3rd in the GT3-AM class.
The result means that Car Collection Motorsport (#34), heading to its home event next month at the Hankook 12H HOCKENHEIMRING, is now joint-4th in the overall 24H SERIES European standings. After its Hankook 12H SPA win, Phoenix Racing now leads the championship just five points ahead of Spa-Francorchamps runner-up CP Racing.