Even with punctures and fuel feed issues to contend with Leipert Motorsport secured GTX-class victory at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, and the championship lead.
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Leipert Motorsport will go into September’s Hankook 24H BARCELONA with a two-point lead in the GTX Teams’ European standings following its first class victory of the year at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
An incredibly close fight for GTX Teams’ honours in the 24H SERIES in 2022 saw Leipert Motorsport go into Hankook 24H PORTIMAO level on-points in the European standings with RD Signs – Siauliai racing team, and just one point ahead of reigning class champion Vortex V8. Victory at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve though means the German team has now moved two points clear of RD Signs, team owner Marcel Leipert stating that his eponymous outfit will “do everything in [its] power” to retain its championship lead in Barcelona.
“Team and drivers [were impressive] in Portugal despite the difficult conditions,” Leipert explains in an official team statement. “The two newcomers” - Glenn McGee and Anthony McIntosh – “integrated perfectly and impressed us all along the line. We achieved the class victory we were aiming for and a top result in the overall standings.
“We also managed to defend our lead in the GTX class. We will do everything in our power to defend the title at the next round of the 24SERIES at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya at the beginning of September.”
Consistency proved crucial in qualifying, with team newcomer McGee, Jean-Francois Brunot and the returning Tyler Cooke (who were also joined by Kerong Li and series debutant McIntosh in Portimão) each setting the 2nd fastest times in their respective qualifying sessions, enough, ironically, to secure pole position over the battling RD Signs and Vortex V8.
Despite suffering two rear left punctures during Brunot and Li’s respective opening stints, the #710 Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo managed to maintain its class lead until half-distance, when fuel-feed issues, brought on by the excessive Portuguese heat, meant the Leipert Lamborghini slipped behind RD Signs (the latter had also suffered an early puncture). Unable to run its fuel stint to the absolute maximum, Leipert struggled to recoup the four-lap gap to its championship rival, but was at least able to run ahead of the BMW M Motorsport M4 GT4 – running a pre-production program – and Vortex V8, which lost significant time to front end repairs.
Respite arrived with less than two hours of the 24-hour event left to run though when the RD Signs Lamborghini, brutally, was brought on to pitroad with terminal electrical issues. Ironically, Leipert similarly lost an almost certain win last time out in Hockenheim within sight of the flag.
Despite losing further time to a suspected puncture, which turned out to be a vibration caused by excessive tyre pick-up, Leipert Motorsport thereafter went the distance to secure its first GTX class win of 2022, and its first in the 24H SERIES since last year’s Hankook 24H SEBRING. Though unable to make the finish, RD Signs nevertheless completed sufficient race distance to claim 2nd in-class and 6th overall.
The result means Leipert Motorsport now leads RD Signs by just two points in the European standings heading into the Hankook 24H BARCELONA, the German team having also pulled 17 points clear of Vortex V8 in the Championship of the Continents.
Having also added to the GTX Drivers’ points tally in Mugello with HRT Performance, teammates Jean-Francois Brunot and Kerong Li now have a 20-point cushion in the European standings over RD Signs’ Nicola Michelin, Audrius Butkevicius and Paulius Paskevicius.