Without its technical issues, could the Lestrup Racing Team Volkswagen Golf GTI have finished on the TCR podium at the 2022 Hankook 24H PORTIMAO?
Words – James Gent
Images – Petr Frýba
Fredrik Lestrup has praised the pace of drivers Mats Olsson, Peter Fahlström, Stefan Nilsson and Patric Olovsson at the recent Hankook 24H PORTIMAO, claiming that, but for technical issues early on, his eponymous team’s Volkswagen Golf GTI could even have finished on the podium.
The Swedish team, making only its second start in the 24H SERIES since the Hankook 24H DUBAI last weekend at the Autódromo Internacional do Algarve, ended a hard-fought race 5th in the TCR class, an issue with the turbocharger having cost Lestrup Racing close to two hours in the pits in the early going. 87 laps down on eventual TCR winner BBR, Lestrup Racing also finished 34 laps down on 3rd-placed finisher, Wolf-Power Racing.
But for its earlier issue though, which initially dropped the #110 Volkswagen almost 70 laps behind the winner, Fredrik Lestrup believes that a podium finish might well have been on the cards at the Hankook 24H PORTIMAO.
“We are pleased with the pace in the race, but not the result that we got due to technical issues,” Fredrik Lestrup explained. “We had the speed for the podium, but we lost a lot of time when the team was forced to change a very hot turbo. The focus from then was to finish the race and take no risks. Still, the endurance part of our team is vital and a great preparation for the coming [TCR Scandinavia] round where we aim to fight for more wins.”
Consistent runs from Fahlström, Olovsson and Nilsson in their respective qualifying sessions meant the #110 Volkswagen Golf GTI lined up 6th in-class on the grid, the trio then working their way into the TCR top five across the opening four hours. At one-third distance however, Fahlström, suffering power loss issues brought about by high mid-afternoon temperatures in the Algarve, brought the Volkswagen back to the garage to repair what turned out to be an electrical issue with the wastegate. The Swedish team then spent the next 1h 45m replacing the four-cylinder’s turbocharger in its entirety, Nilsson emerging during the ninth hour in 7th, 66 laps down on the leader.
“It was a really warm and tough endurance race,” Peter Fahlström continued. “The car was great at Portimão, a circuit we’ve never raced before but one of the best circuits I’ve ever raced. The pace was strong among all four drivers, we were very evenly matched. We had the pace to reach the podium, unfortunately a turbo issue put an end to that. A disappointing result but still a very strong race weekend by the team, one of the best efforts that we’ve ever done.”
Though the VW would later suffer a front left puncture and intermittent power issues, an engine bay that eliminated the BBR’s #158 CUPRA Leon Competición TCR and “severe vibration” issues that heavily delayed the returning Viper Niza Racing meant Lestrup Racing eventually collected the chequered flag 5th in-class, ‘just’ laps behind 4th-placed 700 Miles. This marks the second consecutive top five finish for the Swedish team’s Volkswagen, which finished 4th in-class last time out in Hockenheim behind Lestrup’s brand-new Audi RS 3 LMS.